HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF,
New Orleans, March 2, 1863.
Brigadier General T. W. SHERMAN,
Commanding Defenses of New Orleans.
SIR: To avoid the possibility of a misunderstanding on so important a point the commanding general directs me to state that the prisoners of war belonging to the Forty-second Massachusetts who came down on the Iberville are, with the exception of the chaplain, paroled but not exchanged. The chaplain is unconditionally released. The conditions of the parole are thus stated in the fourth article of the cartel between the United States and the enemy promulgated in General Orders, Numbers 146, of 1862, from the War Department, Adjutant-General's Office:
The surplus prisoners not exchanged shall not be permitted to take up arms again nor to serve as military police or constabulary force in any fort, garrison or fieldwork held by either of the respective parties, nor as guards of prisoners, depot or stores, nor to discharge any duty usually performed to soldiers until exchanged under the provisions of the cartel.
Very respectfully, your most obedient servant,
[RICHARD B. IRWIN,
Lieutenant-Colonel and Assistant Adjutant-General.
Saint Louis, Mo., March 2, 1863.
Colonel W. HOFFMAN,
Commissary-General of Prisoners, Washington, D. C.
COLONEL: I desire to submit to your consideration the matter of rebel prisoners of war now within the department and that have recently passed through here. On the 12th of December I forwarded from here toward Cairo 82 prisoners of war for exchange at Vicksburg and on the 5th January 63 others. These were never exchanged, as when the boat containing about 1,100 prisoners (the 82 of December 12 among the others) which had been sent from Cairo reached Vicksburg Admiral D. D. Porter would not permit the prisoners to land account of the battle then going on and they were ordered up to Helena. From Helena they were sent up to Memphis, thence to Cairo, thence hither, and I having no accommodation for them here by orders from General Curtis sent them to Alton. Since that time all the Arkansas Post prisoners have passed through Saint Louis, the sick only being left here, and have gone to Camp Butler, Springfield, Ill., and Camp Douglas, Chicago. There were about 4,000 of them I think. I was never furnished with complete rolls. I have here 200 other prisoners of war for exchange and last week sent up to Alton about 200 more, not having room for them there. I am constantly written to by the prisoners inquiring concerning their exchange and can only answer by saying that they will go by the first exchange. By the terms of the cartel all prisoners of war if not exchange are to be parole within ten days and yet here are those I have mentioned now confined many weeks beyond the stipulated time. I do not feel authorized in paroling these men and respectfully request that some means be taken to rid our prisoners and camps of those who under the cartel are entitled to their liberty so far as we are concerned. May I request your early attention to this subject, colonel, and that I may be informed concerning the prospect of an exchange?
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
F. A. DICK,
Lieutenant-Colonel and Provost-Marshal-General.