On to-day the quartermaster has begun making most important and necessary repairs and improvements in the Gratiot Street Prison, and when completed it will be comfortable and can be kept clean. To send off the last body of prisoners arrangements were made to start the boat by 11 a. m. It did not start until 1, and was so impeded by the ice that it did not arrive at Alton until dark. But for the ice the boat could have arrived before 4 o'clock. In no case will any effort be wanting to have things so arranged that prisoners sent from here to Alton will hereafter arrive in the day, and invariably will full rolls be sent. But the prisoners that were sent by me were men who had been captured as guerrillas in Missouri and the only rolls of them ever sent to this office contain merely their names and by whom captured, with the remark that they were to be imprisoned. Having at an early day made myself familiar with your instructions I have carefully followed them and not deviated from them in a single instance that I know of. You said that prisoners might be sent to Alton; if impracticable to keep them here until their cases were disposed of. The foregoing facts show that the case provided for by you existed, and I wrote to Colonel Hildebrand that these prisoners' cases had not been disposed of by me so that he might keep them distinct from others. I have confined my releases from the Alton Prison strictly to those authorized to be released by me in your letter of 29th of October. Beyond that I have not given an order relating to a prisoner at Alton. I was told to-day that General Grant had lately ordered prisoners there to be released, and perhaps you may have supposed that releases made if any were upon orders from this office. I have not given a solitary pass or permit to visit the Alton Prison, it being forbidden in your letter of October 29. You state:
It is reported to me that great inconvenience is experienced by the daily calls for the release of prisoners made from your office.
The releases which I have ordered have been strictly within your instructions. I nowhere find in them directions as to the time when I shall make the orders. The releases that I have ordered were of prisoners who were there when I became provost-marshal. As I have reached their cases and ascertained that the charges against them were unfounded I have sent up the orders for the release, for I have considered that after it is determined that a man should be discharged he ought at once to be released; and as it is an expense to the Government to subsist him to sooner that stops the better. I think there must be some misapprehension as to the inconvenience from this cause, for it will less interfere with the prison routine to release the men gradually than in large bodies. Upon the closing sentence of your letter I remark I regret that you have the impression that I have not confined myself within the orders of the War Department and your instructions relating to the Alton Prison. At all times it will give me great satisfaction to have you point out any misconstruction of mine of the orders and regulations made, and I assure you that any mistake that I may make will not be intentional and when pointed out will not occur again. In a late letter I stated that "a large number of my prisoners are men captured in Missouri in bands, and a part of them sworn into the Confederate service by recruiting officers from the rebels who had reached the northern part of the State," and I asked if these men are to be sent forward to be exchanged. My impression is that a large number of irregular prisoners, such as men captured in small bodies without organization, and also disloyal citizens who would have joined the Confederate Army if they could have reached it, have been sent forward
4 R R-SERIES II, VOL V.