War of the Rebellion: Serial 119 Page 0510 PRISONERS OF WAR AND STATE, ETC.

Search Civil War Official Records

RICHMOND, VA., November 13, 1863.

Honorable SECRETARY OF WAR:

By this flag boat I write the President very briefly, giving such information as may possibly e o some interest. * I hope you may see the letter. I have been behind the curtain in rebeldom.

The officers here are very earnest that rebel officers, prisoners, may be placed immediately on precisely the same lever that we occupy. We sleep on the floor without blankets except as we obtain them from our friends. Only one of our rooms has glass; all the others, five in number, have open windows, fee to the sweep of the northers.

We have one-half pound of corn bread (about) of unsifted meal and a little rice and two or three sweet potatoes a day each, and that is all. Yesterday I had eight potatoes; two of them were less than medium size, but good; the rest were worthless, being no larger than one's finger. We have water ad libitum. Our rations are that and no more and nothing else! Our captivity is aggravated by the knowledge that rebel officers in our hands have comfortable quarters, abundant and various rations of excellent quality. General Morgan's chief of staff, now exchanged for Lieutenant-Colonel Irvine, assistant commissioner of exchange, was here some time since and expressed his indignation at the treatment we received, remarking that they (rebel prisoners in our hands) made savings of their rations, with which they obtained butter, eggs, milk, &c. We entirely concur in the policy of treating the rebel soldiers kindly, but we entreat that officers may at once be subjected to the same treatment that we suffer. Such a course may possibly obtain for us some amelioration of our condition. Our captivity would be intolerable but for our purchases of necessaries, being more than $1,000 a day at enormous prices, everything costing us from 50 to 100 per cent. above market prices, and for the prospects in the immediate future, as we judge of them from the intelligence we obtain. Our officers are robbed of everything when captured, if not then, when taken into prison; money, clothes, all valuables, often of watches. We wish that the great amount of money taken from General Morgan, his officers and men, may not be restored to them, but employed to make good to our officers these losses. If we are to be detained here, to which we cheerfully agree if the interests of the country require it, we can use a considerable amount of rebel money, $100,000 for two months, of which the officers will pay at market prices about 10 per cent. The authorities here give 7 for 1. I believe I am the only general officer of the U. S. Army the rebels hold, while we have many of theirs. Perhaps you may think it consistent with the public interest to procure my exchange soon.

I am inclined to think that the starvation rations that we get are due to the extreme poverty of the rebel Government. I think meat cannot be had, either from it scarcity or from the unwillingness of the farmers to part with it for the currency. Probably both considerations are involved in the matter. Gold to-day is quitted at 150 per cent. (15 per 1); corn meal, $18 to $20; potatoes, $10. 50 to $12; flour at wholesale, $110; sweet potatoes, $2. 50 one-half peck; ducks, $7 to $8 apiece; everything else in proportion. You will see by this that the rebel currency is now very near zero, to which it will instantly fall upon a decided victory either in Virginia or Tennessee. The regular issue here is $50,000,000 a month, as stated by a Richmond paper. It is very easy to see that the rebellion cannot possibly run on much longer,