War of the Rebellion: Serial 119 Page 0670 PRISONERS OF WAR AND STATE, ETC.

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The following is a copy of General Mason's reply:

STEUBENVILLE, OHIO, November 30, 1863.

Colonel WILLIAM WALLACE, Columbus, Ohio:

SIR: In reply to your telegram of Saturday I have the honor to inform you that no instructions were given to Sergeant Moon by Lieutenant Judkins with reference to the inspection of cells in the Ohio penitatiary. I have thought it proper to give you a full history of the confinement of prisoners of war in the Ohio penitatiary. Morgan and his officers were turned over by me to the warden of the Ohio penitentiary for safe-keeping, in July last. After that time the military authorities only pretended to have control over the letters and articles of clothing, &c., they should receive and send, and also decide who might visit them. Such number of men for guard was furnished as the warden form time to time might require. The disposition of the guard and the times the prisoners might be allowed out of their cells, in fact everything to their safe-keeping was in the hands of and under the control of the warden exclusively.

During the month of October, I think, I met the directors of the prison and suggested the propriety of sending one of our physician to attend the prisoners and also to appoint one of our sergeants as prison steward, to take the duties of their steward, Barcus. I sent Doctor Bailey as surgeon and Sergeant Moon as steward. I had Sergeant Moon selected as a trustworthy and reliable soldier. I gave him his instructions that he was to receive all communications either for myself or the warden; all letters the prisoners might desire to send; to return such articles to them as might be authorized from my office, and none other; to keep an eye to all irregularities and report them to the warden; to see that the cells were in order, and that the guards were attentive to their duties; to conduct the prisoners to and form their meals, and allow no communication with them. He had nothing to do with the locking or unlocking of their cells or as to the time they should be in or out of them. The usual routine of duties of the keepers of the prison was in no way interfered with. All of the arrangements were so complete that I cannot conceive how prisoners could escape without aid from the outside. They were locked up at 5 o'clock p. m. and remained in their cells until after 7 o'clock a. m. During the day they were constantly under the eye either of the guard, the steward, or one of the prison keepers. All soldiers employed in and about the prisoners were under the orders of the warden of the penitentiary.

I have written this letter that you may know who was or who was not responsible for safety of the prisoners, and that in the investigation full justice may be done to all parties. I think a full and searching investigation is demanded, for there must have been some bribery and corruption.

The officers of my staff were not authorized to give orders with reference to the prisoners, and none were given by them.

Your obedient servant JNO S. MASON,


Letter of Colonel Wallace to General Wright:

HEADQUARTERS U. S. FORCES, Columbus, Ohio, December 6, 1863.

Brigadier General GEORGE B. WRIGHT:

SIR: In compliance with your request I have the honor to make the following report of my administration of the command of the U. S. forces at Columbus, Ohio, previous to and during the escape of General John Morgan and six other rebel officers, prisoners of war, confined in the Ohio penitentiary.

Brigadier General John S. Mason left this post on the 25th day of November, 1863, having been ordered to San Francisco without having been relieved by any officer appointed to relieve him. As ranking officer I took charge of his headquarters until such time as his successor should give. I found that General Mason has charge of the fund belonging to the rebel officers confined in the Ohio penitentiary, that he furnished a guard for them at meat time, and provided their medical treatment, and that this arrangement had been made at the request of the directions and warden of the penitentiary, November 2, 1863, a copy of which, marked A, is herewith inclosed.

Lieutenant Judkins, of General Mason's staff, was disbursing officer of the fund referred to above, and had charge of all letters passing to and from the prisoners. I immediately appointed Captain R. Lamb, of the Eighty-eighth Ohio Volunteer Infantry, to relieve Lieutenant Judkins of these duties. No change was made, and as far as my authority extended I conformed strictly to the regulation before followed. It has been the rule at Camp Chase and at the penitentiary to permit interviews between a prisoner and his near relatives when sick, if the relatives be loyal and come so recommended. On November 26, 1863, Mrs. Lucy Dorsey, of Carlisle, Ky.,