OFFICE COMMISSARY-GENERAL OF PRISONERS,
Washington, D. C., December 2, 1863.
Major CHARGE O. JOLINE, Aide-de-Camp, New York:
MAJOR: In reply to your note of the 28th ultimo, inquiring how a prisoners formerly in the rebel service may reinstate himself as a loyal citizen, I have to inform you, for the information of Major-General Dix, that all such cases are treated as prisoners of war, and a discharge on taking the oath of allegiance can be granted only by the Secretary of War, but such discharges are now granted only on very rare occasions. Instructions have been given to commanders in charge of prisoners to report to this office the names of all who desire to take the oath of allegiance, giving a brief statement of the particulars in each case. All so reported will not be sent forward for exchange, but at a future day, when the Secretary of War thinks it advisable, such applications will be finally acted on, and all whose cases are favorably presented will be discharged.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Colonel Third Infantry and Commissary-General of Prisoners.
WAR DEPARTMENT, Washington City, December 2, 1863.
Honorable BENJAMIN S. COWEN,
ROSWELL MARSH, Esq., and
Hon. SAMUEL W. BOSTWICK:
GENTLEMEN: You have been appointed a special commission to examine into and report upon the cases of political and State prisoners held under authority of the United States at the State prison at Alton, Saint Louis, Camp Douglas, or elsewhere within the Department of the Missouri. For your services in the performance of this duty you will be allowed the usual compensation of $8 per diem while actually employed and your necessary traveling express. You are also authorized to employ a clerk at a rate of not exceeding $3 per diem. In the performance of your duties you will observe the following instructions:
First. As soon as convenient you will proceed to the city of Saint Louis and report yourselves to the commander of the department, Major-General Shofield, who will give such orders to his subordinates as may be necessary to enable you to perform your duties. If there be any political or State prisoners in the city of Saint Louis you will cause them to be brought before you for personal examination and to hear their statements, having previously obtained from the officers by whom they have been arrested, or any other offices, a copy of the charges or causes for which the arrests and detections have been made. Where necessary you will apply to General Schofield for aid to procure the attendance of officers or other persons making arrests and necessary information touching that subject. You may hear the testimony of any persons acquainted with the facts in regard to the conduct of any prisoners, and take such means as you may deem right and proper to understand the merits of the case. This examination will be private and informal, and which a view simply to informing yourselves of the propriety of the prisoners being retained in custody or discharged.
Second. If you shall find a case to be one where there is no further occasion for imprisonment you will make report thereof to Major-Gen-