I am informed that large numbers of the prisoners would enlist in our service if thought proper, and to that I see no objection.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, yours,
BENJ. F. BUTLER,
HEADQUARTERS SAINT MARY'S DISTRICT,
Point Lookout, Md., December 24, 1863.
Conversation between Major General B. F. Butler and six Confederate prisoners, sergeants of the cook-houses at the prisoners' camp.
GENERAL: The command of this district being put under my charge I want to know exactly, from each of you, how the prisoners are treated, and as I can't examine them all I have taken you as the representative men, who know the most about it. I want to know the facts. You may state them to me without fear, favor, or affection, and that you may not feel embarrassed at all General Marston has withdrawn, and if you have any desire, any of you, I will ask Sergeant Wilkinson to withdraw also. (Sergeant Wilkinson is acting commissary sergeant.)
Sergeant OLIVER. I don't think that there is a man in this brigade who could please us better, sir, than Sergeant Wilkinson.
ALL. We all agree to that, sir. No man could please us better.
GENERAL: What is you name, sir?
SERGEANT. W. A. T. Oliver.
GENERAL: How long have you been here?
OLIVER. About four months. I was one of the first thousand that came to the point.
GENERAL: You are sergeant of a cook-house? What is you duty?
OLIVER. To see that rations are drawn and cooked and divided among these 1,500 men that I have charge of. I have been in the business about three months.
GENERAL: In what regiment, company, and corps were you?
OLIVER. Company D, First Texas, Hood's division, Longstreet's corps.
GENERAL: Do you know what the ration allowed for a prisoner is?
OLIVER. I do not, sir.
GENERAL: Do you see the rations dealt out?
OLIVER. Yes, sir.
GENERAL: What do you receive per day each man?
OLIVER. Well, sir for 1,450 to 1,500 men we get three barrels of pickled pork a day, ten crackers a day each, a cup of coffee, about two-thirds of a cup that makes about a pint of coffee twice a day. We get the coffee twice a day when we don't have soup. When we have soup it is in lieu of coffee.
GENERAL: I s that every day?
OLIVER. No, sir.
GENERAL: What change is there from that?
OLIVER. We average soup every third day. One barrel of beans with the surplus crackers makes a first-rate cup of soup-two-thirds of a cup-a point of soup.
GENERAL: Do you put any meat in it?
OLIVER. No sir; we put the meat on the battle.
GENERAL: The soup is made of the liquor in which the meat is boiled?
OLIVER. Yes, sir; we generally boil about two barrels of meat with the beans.