War of the Rebellion: Serial 118 Page 0764 PRISONERS OF WAR AND STATE, ETC.

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[Second indorsement.]

SURGEON-GENERAL'S OFFICE, June 10, 1863.

Respectfully returned to Colonel Hoffman with the information that his recommendation to the Quartermaster-General (to have a hospital for prisoners erected at Fort Delaware) said to have been referred to this office on the 27th ultimo has not been received.

By order of the Surgeon-General:

JO. R. SMITH,

Surgeon, U. S. Army.

HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF EASTERN KENTUCKY,

Louisa, Ky., June 9, 1863.

Lieutenant Colonel LEWIS RICHMOND,

Assistant Adjutant-General, Hdqrs. Department of the Ohio.

COLONEL: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of a copy of a letter,* date of May 29, 1863, from the commissary-general of prisoners to the major-general commanding the department, referred to me, and which with its inclosures is herein inclosed. The prisoners in question+ were arrested as we arrest many persons-upon only probable suspicion. In his region where a great portion of the inhabitants are actively engaged in [giving] aid, comfort and information tot he enemy it is impracticable to arrest only those against whom charges are preferred in regular form backed by proper evidence. That would be to allow the most dangerous persons in the community to go free. In our scouts we seize those who we have reasonable grounds by hearsay or otherwise to believe are aiding the enemy. We have no time to investigate but take them along. Upon arrival at the headquarters of the troops their cases are investigated by a military commission appointed for that purpose and dealt with as a general thing in accordance with its suggestions. If found to be harmless, neutral, or if no positive proof can be obtained of their complicity with the enemy and they are not themselves good loyal citizens they are usually discharged upon taking the oath of allegiance and giving bond for their good behavior in future.

It has never been supposed that such cases were to be referred to the commissary-general of prisoners. The instructions contained in a letter of February 26, 1863, from Major-General Wright, then commanding the department, a copy of which is herewith inclose,++ have been followed as far as possible. The above-named persons were not properly prisoners of war though so reported. But General Orders, Numbers 44,# War Department, series of 1861 (as published in General Orders, Numbers 9, Department of the Ohio, current series, the original never having been obtained though repeatedly applied for), directs that the names, &c., of all prisoners be reported, &c., and it was in accordance with this that the within report was transmitted.

The commissary-general of prisoners appears to have supposed that all these men were taken into custody upon known grounds, whereas a more proper view of the matter is that they are so taken only to determine whether they shall be considered as prisoners as prisoners at all. The reasons for reporting their names, however, appears to be the same, whether retained or not. Rolls of prisoners of war according to the blanks

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*Omitted here; see Hoffman to Burnside, p. 719.

+See White to Thomas, May 12, p. 595.

++Omitted here; for Wright's instructions, see p. 299.

#See Vol. III, this Series, p. 9.

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