HDQRS. HOFFMAN'S BATT., DEPOT PRISONERS OF WAR.
Near Sandusky, Ohio, October 6, 1863.
Colonel WILLIAM HOFFMAN,
Commissary - General of Prisoners, Washington, D. C.:
COLONEL: I am in receipt of your letter of the 30th with regard to overcoats. There has been great complaint for some time respecting overcoats and blankets. I have not allowed them except in a few cases where the persons were sick and wounded. It is now very cold. I have given the sutler permission to sell coarse gray overcoats since the receipt of your letter. It is often the case that friends will send an overcoat, or other clothing, when they will not send money. Sometimes they are not new. If a prisoners writes for clothing, I direct that it shall be plain gray. Sometimes it comes unexpectedly to prisoners of some other color. Shall I allow overcoats of any other color, or if one comes refuse its being delivered? It is impossible to send such things back, as the express company will not received it without prepayment of charges. There is a large amount of citizens' clothing in the yard. Very many prisoners come with full suits of clothing, both civil and military. It is often the case that it is a condition of surrender that the officers retain their private property. The Port Hudson prisoners have large stocks of clothing, both civil and military, whether purchased since capture or not I am unable to say. I mention these facts to show that it is impossible to keep prisoners, trying to escape, or being removed for any purpose, in uniform under these circumstances. It has seemed to me important to have the prisoners provide themselves without expense to the Government, as far as possible, and I have no doubt very many overcoats will be sent here without the knowledge of prisoners until they arrive, and I would like your views on the importance of their being all gray. Many prisoners desire to purchase blankets or shaws. In fact they are the coldest set I ever saw.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
WM. S. PIERSON,
Lieutenant - Colonel Hoffman's Battalion, Commanding.
HEADQUARTER FORT McHERNY, MD.,
October 6, 1863.
Colonel WILLIAM HOFFMAN, U. S. Army,
Commissary - General of Prisoners:
COLONEL: I am instructed by Bvt. Brigadier General W. W. Morris to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of August 18, 1863, doubtless in reply to his communication of July 30 to Lieutenant - Colonel Chesebrough, and by him forwarded to you. You state that " captured negroes are ranked as camp followers and therefore prisoners of war. "
It is respectfully suggested that they be employed in the service of the Government as paid laborers and teamsters, thus rendering service to the Government and avoiding the return to slavery of such as were slaves. It is further suggested that those among them who are freedmen with families and desire to go should be sent South with the first installment of prisoners going thither, as exchanged prisoners or not, as the Government thinks best.
If the question here raised are beyond your jurisdiction, it is respectfully asked that this communication be forwarded by you to the Secretary of War.
I remain, colonel, respectfully, yours,
P. A. PORTER,
Colonel Eighth New York Vol. Art., Commanding Fort McHenry.
23 R R - SERIES II, VOL VI