question raised properly belongs. He will no doubt advise you of his decision on the application. It may not, however, be improper for me to say that the opinion is entertained that at present the policy of the Department is against allowing rebel prisoners of war to take the oath of allegiance so long as we have captured soldiers of our own remaining in the hands of the Confederate authorities subject to exchange. They are believed to have the first claim upon our Government, a claim which would seem to be ignored to the extent that we deprive ourselves of the means of meeting it by setting at liberty those who, under the cartel, constitute the only available means for effecting exchanges. It is true that by this process soldiers are with drawn from rebel ranks, but this is not regarded as such again to our cause as is the ransom of our own tried troops from Southern prisons. There are in addition considerations of humanity involved which cannot be disregarded.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
OFFICE-COMMISSARY-GENERAL OF PRISONERS,
Washington, D. C., October 19, 1863.
Lieutenant Colonel W. S. PIERSON,
Commanding Depot Prisoners of War, Sandusky, Ohio:
COLONEL: I have just received there port of Surgeon Clark, a medical inspector of prisoners of war, of his inspection of the sanitary condition of the depot under your command, and there are some things in his report which require immediate attention. Surgeon Clark reports the police of the prisoners' barracks and hospital very bad. This is a state of things for which there can be no sufficient excuse. If the police cannot be very good there is surely no excuse for its being very bad. In such a body of men there should be found enough with proper feelings of humanity, cleanliness, and industry to take charge of a hospital of sixty patients and keep it intolerable police. It requires only proper energy and judgment on the part of those in charge to insure favorable results. The police of the whole camp, excepting the officers' quarters, and to a certain extent the guard barracks and hospital is most inexcusably neglected. Some of the beds in the prison hospital are in a horribly filthy condition. I do not appreciate the necessity for this state of things, knowing that you have a wash-house and the means of paying for the washing. It shows a very great neglect on the part of the surgeon in charge, which the commanding officers should not have tolerable. It is reported that but two wards are in use, the other two requiring repairs. I cannot under stand why any part of the hospital should be permitted to become so much out of repairs as to be un fit for occupancy, except through the same causes which bring about the utter neglect of cleanliness. There is a deficiency of hospital under-clothing, and this, with the bedding, is not properly washed. Receptacles for garbage and other offal from the cook-house and barracks should be provided. Lime or some more powerful disinfecting agent should be used more freely. The prisoners' barracks should be thoroughly policed every day instead of once a week. I observed several chamber utensils in the barracks. These should only be allowed in the hospitals. Much of the fault undoubtedly lies with the prisoners themselves, but were deficiencies once supplied and strict discipline enforced a much better condition of things would soon ensue.