Memphis. Our usual practice has been for all prisoners to be sent to corps headquarters and then to Cairo. My department has three lines now, the Mississippi, the Tennessee, and now the Nashville railroad. Cairo would be the best place for the first two lines, but here our prisoners should go to Nashville. I will see General Grant again at Chattanooga and will ascertain from him the course he has heretofore pursued in this regard and will advise you, but I think Cairo will be the best point for us to send our prisoners to. It is a common center for the rivers which are our surest lines of communication.
I will therefore make an order that all prisoners of war captured be sent by the most convenient routes to Cairo and for the commanding officer there to make reports to you as required by orders. When prisoners of war are too badly hurt to bear transportation to Cairo they are not worth capturing. In that case the best plan is to put them on the inhabitants to care for. I find their sick and wounded too anxious to be made prisoners for better treatment.
I am, &c.,
W. T. SHERMAN,
OFFICE COMMISSARY-GENERAL OF PRISONERS,
Washington, D. C., November 18, 1863.
Colonel W. HOFFMAN,
Commissary-General of Prisoners, Washington, D. C.:
SIR: While at Annapolis under your orders I visited the Naval Academy and College hospitals at that place for the purpose of ascertaining the condition of the Federal paroled prisoners recently arrived from Richmond and at present inmates of these hospitals. I found such as had survived (forty-eight having died within ten days of their admission) in a most wretched condition, though now surrounded by every comfort which a well-ordered hospital and competent, attentive attendance can supply. They were suffering from scurvy, hospital gangrene, pneumonia, and some, though laboring under no disease, were actually dying of starvation. One poor fellow informed me that for fifteen days previous to his departure from Richmond he had received no animal food whatever, and for five days had been supplied with but one cracker and a half per day. These hospitals are admirably conducted in every particular by their respective reception, if necessary, of 1,000 additional patients. At the Naval Academy Hospital the surgeon in charge has very judiciously, I think, made arrangements for the reception and preliminary treatment of the paroled prisoners in tents, as he informs me that he finds when they are placed at once in a warm, comfortable ward, the reaction which ensues is too great for their reduced systems to bear, and that pneumonia or some other inflammatory condition supervenes and is very frequently fatal. This he expects to obviate by the means above mentioned, and I think his idea will prove a just one. But this communication is more especially for the purpose of calling your attention to the necessity of having the flag-of-truce boat fitted up with the hospital appliances necessary for the proper medical treatment of the sick paroled prisoners during the passage from City Point to Annapolis. A competent and experienced medical officer should also be assigned to the boat, for very much of the after success in these extreme cases depends on the early treatment which they receive. I am informed that the acting assistant