I do not think, however, that an arrangement can be made by which, in spite of any orders from our Governments, these prisoners can be placed upon a different footing from those taken in other parts of the country, leaving their disposition merely to General Taylor and myself. General Taylor or myself might be sent to some other army, and I think that neither of us can enter into an agreement which would bind a successor, provided any action of our respective Governments might force that successor to act somewhat in opposition to his Government while carrying out our agreement. I telegraph to headquarters on the subject to-day, and in the meantime write you this to acquaint you generally with my own views, independent of any higher authority.
Very respectfully, yours,
W. B. FRANKLIN,
WASHINGTON, D. C., December 14, 1863.
Hon. E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War, Washington, D. C.:
SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your instructions of the 11th instant, requiring explanations in relation to the trade with sutlers by prisoners of war at camps in the West and Northwest, the want of discipline of Federal prisoners on parole at Camp Chase, and the waste of food and fuel in consequence of defective cooking arrangements at all these place, and I would respectfully submit the following:
When the prison camps in the West were first occupied in the winter of 1861 and 1862 there were sutlers at each of them, and in 1862 a sutler was appointed for the depot at Johnson's Island by the then Secretary of War. In June an order was published by the War Department placing the control of prisoners of war in my hands, and I immediately, among other regulations, placed the trade by sutlers with prisoners under the control of the commanding officer, who was to restrict them to such articles as it was proper for them to have. None of the articles which the Army Regulations permitted a scuttler to keep were at that time prohibited to prisoners, except arms and an excess of clothing. No purchases could be made except by an order on the commanding officer, who himself paid for the article purchased out of the prisoners' money on deposit in his hands, so that he was always informed of the sales made. "Schnapps" is among the articles prohibited by the Army Regulations, and if they were sold by the sutler at Camp Chase he should be dismissed from his place, and if the sale was approved by the commanding officer he should be dismissed from the service. I have had no officer at my disposal for months past whom I could send out to make an inspection of these camps, and my duties in my office have not permitted me to go myself. I have therefore not had it in my power to ascertain by personal observation what irregularities were occurring. I had ordered Captain Lazour of inspection just a she was relieved from duty in my office in September, and it is only within a few days that I have been able to obtain the detail of an officer to fill his place.
Pursuant to your instructions, I have recently prohibited all trade by prisoners with sutlers or other persons, directly or indirectly, and I think it proper to mention in this connection that I have received from several commanders inquiries to know whether this order is to be understood to prohibit the purchase of tobacco, pipes, letter paper, and postage stamps, and I respectfully ask your instructions on this subject.