from the severity of the weather owing to the want of straw, blankets, stoves for heating the barracks in which they are confined and possibly for the want of adequate clothing. General Orders, Numbers 67, series of 1862, from the War Department, Adjutant-General's Office, provides that clothing and other necessaries shall be supplied to prisoners of was under regulations to be prescribed by the commissary-general of prisoners. The needful regulations in this respect are presumed to have been furnished you and the supplies in accordance therewith should be obtained of the proper staff departments on requisitions approved and ordered by you. In case no such regulations have been supplied for your government you will cause to be furnished the stoves necessary to heating the prison barracks, the proper allowance of straw for bedding and a blanket apiece for such of the prisoners as are not already provided with one. You will please report your action under these instructions to these headquarters.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. G. WRIGHT,
WASHINGTON, February 7, 1863.
Mr. WILLIAM P. WOOD, Superintendent Old Capitol Prison.
SIR: I have received your letter of the 5th instant, together with the list accompanying it, a copy of Mr. Baxter's receipt to you of the 29th October last and a copy of your letter prepared for Mr. Baxter.
I inclose herewith a certified copy of Mr. Baxter's receipt,* which I offered you in conversation.
As you refer to my letter calling for that receipt as if my use of the term "official" in connection with it had changed its character from that of a private to that of a public document I must explain that you had no authority to hold any private intercourse with people in arms against the Government of the United States. When your authority to act under the orders of General Wadsworth (approved by the Secretary of War) ceased your acts, unauthorized in fact, might be said to be extra official, but your proceedings did not the less belong to the United States Government and ought to have been submitted to the Government.
I presume I understand now the reason of your recall. By the copy of the memorandum of agreement between yourself and Mr. Baxter your appear to have exercised functions not committed to you. By the order of General Wadsworth September 28, 1862, you were directed "to proceed to Richmond via Fortress Monroe for the purpose of delivering exchanged State prisoners, marked A, and for tendering exchange of State prisoners, marked B, for Union State prisoners now held in confinement by the authorities in Richmond. " This paragraph covers your authority and it does not empower you to enter into general negotiations with Confederate authorities, yet the copy you furnish shows that you assumed that power and formally signed your name to an agreement the effect of which if sanctioned would have committed the United States Government to a policy which would virtually have paralyzed its power to act upon rebels under the law of treason. It appears to me that you could n been aware of the grave character of the act you committed. But I do not question your motives.