General Orders, Numbers 163, of the series 1862, sent therewith also is at hand. The letter shall be published to my troops and enforced as far as possible. A wide difference of opinion exists among officers in the matter of paroling prisoners of war. The enemy has a very loose practice of picking up our men, stragglers and others, by their properly organized troops as well as irregular guerrillas, of paroling them and turning them loose to find their way back to our lines as best they may. Hundreds of such men are now to be found in every army corps and at every post. In like manner our scouting parties and detachments pick up stragglers who invariably represent themselves, sometimes truthfully but more frequently falsely, as having abandoned their cause and on their way home. These invariably get off somehow or other and compose the gangs of robbers and guerrillas that infest the whole Southern country. Since the Dix-Hill cartel for the exchange of prisoners of war, published to the army in General Orders, Numbers 142, of September 25, 1862, I contend that neither party can claim a credit for prisoners delivered or exchanged in any manner other than that therein set forth, and that commanders of detachments, guerrillas or regulars, who take prisoners and set them free on parole cannot claim exchange for such prisoners; that the parole is void and of no effect, and the soldiers thus returned may be made to rejoin and do duty with their companies. If we insist upon the enemy taking our men prisoners, holding them and exchanging them at the place and in the manner set forth in the cartel it will break up a system that is operating against us.
I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
W. T. SHERMAN,
Washington, February 4, 1863.
Colonel ROBERT ALLEN, Saint Louis, Mo.:
It is stated that the paroled prisoners taken [in] Arkansas may be sent this way for delivery at Richmond. I see no reason for incurring such an expenditure when they can be sent directly to Vicksburg; but if it should be ordered you will of course send them by the cheapest route, which if they are on the river will probably be by the Ohio to Parkersburg or Pittsburgh. As the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad has been excepted from the railroad contracts and has charged higher rates per man per mile than others, do not let them come by that road unless their agents agree to put their charges down to the convention rates as to fare and baggage and distances. Their ticket agent (L. M. Cole) now offers this.
M. C. MEIGS,
Washington City, February 4, 1863.
Colonel W. HOFFMAN, Commissary-General of Prisoners.
COLONEL: Application has been made to me by the agents of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad for the transportation of the Arkansas prisoners on the road if sent to Richmond. They say that the cheapest transportation will be by the Ohio River to Parkersburg and by their road to Baltimore, thence by water to City Point, and they offer