HEADQUARTERS COMMANDANT OF PRISONS,
Camp Chase, Ohio, April 21, 1863.
Colonel W. HOFFMAN, Commanding - General of Prisoners.
COLONEL: I have the honor to state that several rebel commissioned officers have made application to me to be released upon the oath of allegiance to the United States Government, as please see the application of Captain Frank May, herewith inclosed. Your instructions of February 17, 1863, contain the following paragraph:
It will be determined in a few days whether rebel officers can be permitted to take the oath of allegiance.
Since the date of that paper I find no orders on file relative to the release of this class of prisoners. Again and of same date:
You are not at liberty to grant paroles to rebel officers under any circumstances without the authority of the Secretary of War except in case of illness, which is provided for by the Circular of Regulations.
On reference to those regulations I do not discover that I as commandant of the post have any authority to parole prisoners on account of illness of to even transfer them from the prisons as a matter of safety in cases of contagious disease. Paragraph 9 of the Regulations appears only to refer to the visits of the friends and relatives of prisoners in cases of illness.
In this connection I would respectfully state that two smallpox cases became developed in the prisons recently and as a matter of safety to the other prisoners I caused their transfer from the prison to the pest - house. I would thank you to furnish me with specific instructions for my guidance in exercising authority in all matters concerning the prisons and prisoners in my charge.
Herein please notice a copy of General Orders, Numbers 36, * Department of the Ohio, issued by Major - General Burnside, which relates to prisoners from the rebel service on parole. Under this order I have directed the return to confinement at this post of several who were on parole in the city of Columbus by direction of His Excellency Governor Tod. I would thank you to designate the authority under which his Excellency has heretofore directed the parole of rebel prisoners placed in charge of the commanding officer of this post. There are now confined here perhaps over 100 prisoners of war who were sent here from Kentucky as deserters. No positive proof of their being deserters came with them more than that they were picket up at points in Kentucky as having been in the rebel army, and the rolls with them state that some are deserters and others claim to be so. Since the last exchanges I prefer addressing myself to you to ascertain whether I am to go on and release such prisoners under your orders of February 18, 1863, as it would seem as though the authorities at Louisville could more properly have released them, possession doubtless better information than I can have on the merits of their respective cases.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
ALEX. E. DRAKE,
Captain, U. S. Army, Commanding Post.
[Inclosure No. 1.]
PRISON HOSPITAL, Camp Chase, Ohio, April 20, 1863.
Captain DRAKE, Commanding Post.
SIR: I am sick in this hospital and as there is very little hope of my final recovery in this place I was recommended by the post surgeon for
* See p. 463.