My part in this transaction has been but a subordinate one, having generals on both sides of me to give to receive the orders, and I feel conscious that I performed my whole duty faithfully, carefully and with judgment, as is fully established by the foregoing report.
In closing my report I must beg leave to express my deep regret that my untiring efforts to perform the various duties of my office with ability and promptness should meet only with such harsh censure as is contained in your telegram to the Honorable Mr. Watson, Assistant Secretary of War.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Colonel Third Infantry, Commissary-General of Prisoners.
[Inclosure Numbers 1.]
MILITARY PRISON, Alton, Ill., April 9, 1863.
Colonel WILLIAM HOFFMAN,
Commissary-General of Prisoners, Washington, D. C.
COLONEL: Your dispatch of the 8th relation to Confederate prisoners of war sent from this prison for exchange to City Point, Va., on the 1st instant was received last evening and in compliance therewith I have the honor to report that so soon as I received the instructions from the headquarters Department of the Missouri to prepare these prisoners for the exchange (which was five or six days before they left the prison) I directed Doctor Wall, assistant surgeon of the Seventy-seventh Ohio Volunteers, the senior medical officer in charge of the prison hospital, to make a critical examination and inspection of the sick under his care with a view to their being sent away for exchange and to designate such of them only as were then free from any infectious disease, especially the smallpox, and able to perform the journey to City Point, Va., without inconvenience or difficulty. This inspection I have reason to believe was faithfully made and no prisoner was sent from here so far as I know who was not entirely free from smallpox. I was present when the prisoners were called out for exchange and saw each man take his place in the ranks previous to being marched to the cars, and with the exception of two or three of them who were somewhat lame from wounds or other injuries I saw none so far as I was capable of judging who were not in a condition to perform the journey. The smallpox has prevailed here in the prison to a greater or less extent for some months past and it is not impossible but that some of the prisoners who left here on the 1st instant, though to all appearances entirely free from disease at the time, may have had the seeds of this disease in their system. But no one of them who was known to be thus affected was permitted to leave or did leave at that time. I have not heard that the smallpox was carried away with the prisoners sent from here but I infer from the tenor of your dispatch that a report to that effect has been put in circulation.
I inclose herewith the report of Doctor Wall in relation to the inspection made by him as alluded to in the body of this my report.
I have the honor to be, sir, with much respect, your most obedient servant,
Major Third Infantry, Commanding Military Prison.
32 R R-VOL II, VOL V