To those who are in the habit of using tobacco it is a great punishment to be deprived of it, and the deprivation would be a greater inducement to endeavor to escape than any other course which is likely to influence them. If they are not permitted to purchase it I would recommend that it be purchased for them out of the prison fund.
Camp Chase is too remote from this city for me to give the discipline of the paroled troops there my personal supervision, and it is very possible that there has been a want of attention on the part of the commanding officer. The camp is under the immediate command of Colonel William Wallace, Fifteenth Regiment Ohio Volunteers, and makes a part of the command of Brigadier-General Mason, whose headquarters are at Columbus, and they are the officers who are responsible for the good order and discipline of all troops at the camp. General Mason furnishes to my office try-monthly reports of all arrivals and departures of paroled officers and men, but he makes no reports of the condition of the troops at the camp, and I have, therefore, had no means of ascertaining whether a satisfactory state of discipline is kept up or not.
The arrangements which I had ordered for cooking were made with a view to economy in expense, labor, and fuel, and for greater conveniences. I found at all the camps camp-kettles, skillets, and frying pans in general use, which wasted the rations, and an consequence of the numerous fires used required an extravagant quantity of fuel. At one camp the fuel cost $10,000 a month. To remedy this great evil I ordered the purchase of "Farmer's boilers," which hold from thirty to sixty gallons and require but a small quantity of wood. They were put in use at Johnson's Island for the guard and prisoners and were purchased by other camps, but owing to the inefficiency of the commanders, and, as I am induced to believe, the influence of contractors, these boilers were only put in partial use or not at all, and the prisoners having been about that time sent forward for exchange, the failure in this matter did not come to my notice.
Recently I have repeated the orders on this subject and have insisted that they shall be carried out, but owing to the great demand for these boilers some time must elapse before they can be procured. They have been supplied for the depot at Rock Island. As another means of saving fuel I ordered the purchase of a portable circular saw out of the prison fund for the cutting of wood, by which the great waste by chopping with an ax was avoided, and at Camp Douglas, where so much was paid for fuel, a large reduction was made.
I think there can be no great waste of provisions at any of these camps because I have adopted a scale for the issue of rations based on what was found to be, on trial, a sufficient allowance, and the difference between this and the allowance by regulations, a large percentage, is the 'savings" which, sold to the commissary, makes the prisoners' fund, which varies from $3,000 to $20,000 at the several camps. There may be an appearance of waste at times growing out of the purchase of articles from the sutler, or the use of vegetables which would make a surplus of some part of the ration which cannot be saved. When the provisions are divided into small parcels and cooked in small messes, which, I presume, is the case reported, it likely to create a deficiency of the ration than any surplus to waste.
All of which is respectfully submitted.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Colonel Third Infantry, Commissary-General of Prisoners.