There is a difficulty at night in distinguishing the guard vessel from others and I respectfully suggest that the one here as well as the one at Norfolk may hoist a red light at night so that our steamers may know and be able to communicate with them.
In regard to flag-of-truce boats their purpose always is to reach here before night. But Colonel Ludlow is sometimes unavoidably detained and it may happen too that our prisoners cannot be put on board the transports at City Point in time to reach your picket boat until after dark. The prisoners are generally miserably provided for and a delay of a single night at Newport News would be inconvenient. I therefore propose that you suggest some signal by whistle or lights by which the flag-of-truce boats may advise you of their approach. It is not likely that it will be often necessary to use it.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOHN A. DIX,
WAR DEPT. ADJT. GENERAL'S OFFICE, Numbers 46.
Washington, February 20, 1863.
With a view to the more prompt and effective execution of so much of General Orders, Numbers 191, of November 19, 1862, as relates to the collecting of paroled troops at the camps designated the attention of mustering and disbursing officers and recruiting officers of the Regular Army is again specially called do the provisions of General Orders, Numbers 72, of June 28, 1862; and that it may be known what is done under these orders the officers referred to will make to the superintendent of the volunteer recruiting service in each State tri-monthly reports of men collected and forwarded and the superintendents will make like reports to the commissary-general of prisoners in this city, Colonel W. Hoffman, Third Infantry. These reports will not only give the numbers but will also state the steps taken to carry out the order, with such suggestions as they may have to make to promote the object in view.
All stragglers from the army whether paroled, exchanged or otherwise come within the reach of this order; and that none may be ignorant of it officers charged with its execution will give it circulation in the local newspapers, announcing at the same time that all absentees who fail to report within five days will thereafter be considered deserters for whom the usual reward will be paid on delivery. At stations where it would be more convenient to do so detachments will be sent directly to Camp Parole, at Annapolis, rather than to Elmira, N. Y.
By order of the Secretary of War:
WAR DEPARTMENT, Washington, February 21, 1863.
SIMEON DRAPER, Provost-Marshal-General, New York:
You are not authorized to parole any person who has held a rebel commission or been in the rebel service. Such action cannot be approved by this Department. The person referred to in your dispatch if he has held a rebel commission should be immediately arrested and brought to Washington.
EDWIN M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.