War of the Rebellion: Serial 118 Page 0922 PRISONERS OF WAR AND STATE, ETC.

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indiscriminately it may be remarked generally and with equal force as to persons guilty or innocent that this mode of punishing (long exposure to weather in winter) is improper, because it cannot be measured and assigned with that definiteness which should charishment. One thus punished for so simple an offense as a fisticuff might have entailed upon him permanent loss of health if not loss of life. Hence the undersigned thinks this treatment was either no punishment at all in consequence of mildness of the weather or if the weather was severe enough to make the punishment felt it might continue in fact long after it was intended and entirely beyond Captain Alexander's control.

Upon the general conduct of Captain Alexander as resting on the mere opinion of witnesses there was some difference. Some of the witnesses charged great severity and cruelty, but it should be also stated that when this class of witnesses were pressed for facts to sustain their opinion they referred principally to the facts above recited. On the other hand it is but just to Captain Alexander to say the testimony was both satisfactory and abundant that the prison in everything relating to its sanitary condition and the general comfort of its inmates was well kept; that Captain Alexander to the mass of the prisoners is as kind and indulgent as could be expected or desired, in many cases allowing prisoners to send out and get better supplies than are furnished in their rations. The undersigned thinks the above contains a fair summary of the most material portions of the testimony, speaking from impressions as made during the progress of the investigation, not having since examined the manuscript, it having gone immediately into the hands of the printer.

The conclusion of the undersigned therefore is that in view of the great and delicate responsibility devolved upon the keeper of such a prison, embracing among its inmates the most lawless and desperate characters, while it may be much regretted that such modes punishment were used he is yet not prepared to recommend Captain Alexander's dismissal. The undersigned thinks the infliction of corporeal punishment as administered by Captain Alexander was illegal and improper; that the punishing by exposing prisoners to the weather was warranted, and that the order to shoot at those at the window was also unjustifiable. But inasmuch as it is not known that any serious consequences have resulted from any of these acts, and inasmuch as they appear to have been resorted to by Captain Alexander not from any wantonness or cruelty but from a desire to maintain proper discipline and perhaps from an erroneous conception of his rights and powers as keeper of such a prison, the undersigned recommends that no further action be taken be taken by the House.

There is one other fact in connection with this prison which should be remarked upon but for which Captain Alexander from the testimony does not seem to be responsible. It is that persons are sometimes arrested and incarcerated there for days and weeks and sometimes for months without being either brought to trial or even having charges preferred against them; sometimes confined simply under virtue of orders of superior officers "till called for. " It is true this evil does not seem to exist to any great extent but it is an infringement of personal liberty and the exercise of unauthorized power which should meet no encouragement and which should be abolished.

Respectfully submitted.


One of the Committee.