I have the honor to inform you that no such order as the one referred to authorizing the release of prisoners by the Governor of Kentucky has been issued by the War Department. As far as possible to guard against impositions in petitions presented for the release of prisoners, even when presented and urged by Members of Congress, the Secretary of Wa decided that such petitions should not be entertained unless approved by the Governor of the State in which the petitioners and the prisoners reside and then a release can be granted only on his order. The great difficulty in selecting the good cases from the bad is that nothing reliable in the shape of charges is sent with the prisoners only suspected and those caught in the commission of serious offenses are alike classed on the rolls as guerrillas, aiding guerrillas, bushwhackers, 7c. When a petition is presented in behalf of any such person it is impossible to tell to what class he belongs, the wrongly accused or the seriously guilty.
There are but two Fields, J. and W., on the rolls of Johnson's Island and both were sent to Vicksburg for exchange in November last, and the prisoners referred to by Colonel Foster could not have been released from that prison. There is a special commissioner at Camp Chase to investigate and decide in all cases at that prison and I do not know on what ground the discharges are granted. I except to issue an order in a few days for transfer of all prisoners from Camp Chase to Johnson's Island, and in order that such men as Colonel Foster alludes to may not be discharged to the detriment of the public interest through want information I have respectfully to request that you will direct that where prisoners are sent to the island a full report of each case of the character of the man and the charge against him shall be sent with him. So long au prisoners are continued at Camp Chase like reports should accompany all sent there.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Colonel Third Infantry, - General of Prisoners.
OFFICE COMMISSARY - GENERAL OF PRISONERS,
Washington, D. C., April 24, 1863.
Major General A. E. BURNSIDE,
Commanding Department of the Ohio, Cincinnati, Ohio.
GENERAL: Brigadier - General Mason, who has recently assumed command at Columbus, Ohio, reports the great want of discipline among the paroled troops at Camp Chase, a state of things which has been brought to my notice more than once in other ways, and I would respectfully invite your attention to the subject with the request that you will direct such steps taken as will establish the good order and proper discipline so much needed at the camp. The indispensable requisite in the camp is an active and efficient commander with a reliable guard of at least five full companies. Without a force to compel obedience in paroled prisoners of war nothing can be done with them and they desert from the camp almost as fast as they can be brought back. Commander should be either a lieutenant - colonel or colonel so as to insure his having sufficient command, but the should have an efficient adjutant, commissary and quartermaster. When the prisoners are remover to Johnson's Island, as I have in a letter of this date informed you is contemplation, the prison guard now at the camp may make part of the permanent guard and the larger prison will again