War of the Rebellion: Serial 118 Page 0920 PRISONERS OF WAR AND STATE, ETC.

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and inconsistent with our system of government. But it does not appear that this punishment has been inflicted except on persons of abandoned characters, and for such offenses as stealing, fighting and abusing more helpless fellow-prisoners.

It should be observed also that this mode of punishment is common in military prisons, and that all these cases happened before Congress had passed a law prohibiting this mode of punishment in the Army. Some persons have been put out of the prison into a walled yard and so confined for several days; and in one instance two or three prisoners were allowed to remain out a short time in bad weather. This we condemn, but it is proper to state that in one of these instances the prisoners so punished had attempted to blow up or injure the building by firing and exploding a canteen of powder, and all the prisoners in that particular room were so taken to this yard, the object seeming to be to force some of them to reveal the names of the ringleaders. It does not appear that any of these persons suffered materially. In another instance of this yard punishment the offense was beating a fellow-prisoner, an old man of sixty-five years, so severely that he afterwards died from the effects of the beating. Captain Alexander in excusing himself for these acts exhibits a statement signed by General Winder in which he is directed to use corporeal punishment if necessary to enforce discipline.

In one instance a sentinel discharged his gun at the window of the prison where a prisoner was putting his head out in violation of rules and otherwise annoying the sentinel. The ball struck the frame of the window and tore off some splinters, which scarred the face of another prisoner standing near. This we condemn as barbarous in the extreme, but the evidence discloses that the order was not to shoot in such cases so as to endanger the person of the prisoner but only to terrify him. Captain Alexander would say in the hearing and presence of the prisoners that if they broke the rules by putting their heads out of the window they should be shot, but he would instruct his sentinels not to shoot so as to hurt but around the window so as to frighten.

Without pretending to review all the particular cases of punishment the undersigned referring to the evidence in the case have come to the conclusion, considering the nature of military prisons and especially in view of the desperate and abandoned characters of the inmates of Castle Thunder who are described by the witnesses as being in the main murderers, thieves, deserters, substitutes, forgers and all manner of villains, that the management of it by Captain Alexander has not been marked by such acts of cruelty and inhumanity as to authorize his condemnation, but on the contrary we are satisfied that he has exhibited such traits of character as in our opinion eminently fit him for such a position. In the successful management of a military prison promptness and a determination to enforce rigid discipline are essential and in these qualities we conclude that Captain Alexander excels.

All of which is respectfully submitted.




First minority report on the management of Castle Thunder.

[RICHMOND, Mary 1, 1863.]

The undersigned, one of the special committee of five appointed under a resolution of this House to investigate and report upon certain