War of the Rebellion: Serial 118 Page 0923 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. - CONFEDERATE.

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Second minority report on the management of Castle Thunder.


Speaker of the House of Representatives:

The undersigned, a member of the special committee appointed under certain resolutions of the House of Representatives directing the committee to investigate the treatment of prisoners confined in the prison known as Castle Thunder, in the city of Richmond, and make report to the House thereon, begs leave to submit the following minority report:

The first resolution of the series adopted instructs the committee to inquire and report "What punishment if any in violation of law has been inflicted upon prisoners confined in Castle Thunder, the kind and character of punishment inflicted by the officers of that prison?" It was proven by witnesses brought the committee that punishment of the most degrading and cruel character had been inflicted at various times by order of the officer in charge of this prison upon the prisoners confined therein. Some ten or twelve prisoners, all, with the exception of two, Confederate soldiers, were by order of Brigadier General J. H. Winder punished by lashes on the bare back. The offenses charged to have been committed by them in violation of the prison rules were fighting and stealing. The charges were preferred by their associates in the prison and the persons selected for punishment were chosen with the permission of the officers by the general vote of all the prisoners. In other words the parties making the charge an acting as witnesses sat as jurymen upon the case instituted by themselves and assessed the punishment. This novel and original method of enforcing the discipline of a prison invented by the officer having control of Castle Thunder deserves in my opinion the severest censure at the hands of Congress.

It was also in evidence before the committee that in the month of November one hundred or more of the prisoners were sent out into the back yard of the prison and kept there exposed to snow, rain and sleet having insufficient covering an comparatively unprotected against the weather. This punishment was inflicted by order of Captain Alexander to force from the prisoners a confession of who amongst them had been guilty of placing some powder in a canteen.

It was also proven before the committee that upon various occasions prisoners were punished by bucking, handcuffing and tying to a post with their arms stretched as tightly as possible and kept in this position for hours.

Witnesses also testified that Captain Alexander had during extremely cold weather refused fire to the prisoners and they were compelled to rely upon their own ingenuity and their precarious recources inside of the prison to supply fuel.

All the punishment inflicted except that by whipping was by order of Captain Alexander. Upon one occasion a sentinel discharged his gut at a prisoner in one of the windows and the splinters from the frame of the window wounded another prisoner.

Upon the facts elicited by the examination before the committee the undersigned is of the deliberate opinion that the punishments inflicted in Castle Thunder have been not only degrading and cruel but barbarous and inhuman. It is no excuse for the officers who are guilty of this conduct that Castle Thunder is a military prison and its inmates frequently of desperate character. The object of establishing and maintaining such an institution is the protection of society by the confinement of persons dangerous to its peace. To effect this object it is not necessary that men should be subjected to lashes, exposed to the