War of the Rebellion: Serial 119 Page 0863 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. --UNION AND CONFEDERATE.

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Richmond, Va., January 21, 1864.


SIR: I have the honor, by the President's direction, to forward for your attention and the proper action the following copy of resolutions of the House of Representatives of this date:

Resolved, That pending the suspension of exchange of prisoners of war it is the duty of Congress to give expression to their sympathies for the brave citizen soldiers who have by the fortune of war been consigned to a foreign prison; and that every effort made by the President to alleviate their condition and supply their necessities will meet the cordial concurrence of Congress.

Resolved, That until the enemy shall consent to renew the exchange of prisoners under the cartel the Congress will cheerfully make all necessary appropriations for supplying the wants of our fellow-citizens now in the hands of the enemy.

Resolved, That, in the opinion of Congress, it is advisable to endeavor to make an agreement with the enemy for permitting the prisoners on each side to be attended by a proper number of their own surgeons; to be mutually permitted, under rules to be established, to take charge of the health and comfort of the prisoners, and also to act as commissaries of prisons, with power to receive and distribute among the prisoners all contributions made by their friends or by the respective Governments of articles of food, clothing, and medicine.

Resolved, That the President be respectfully requested to communicate to Congress the present state of the question pending between the two Governments relative to the exchange of prisoners.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Private Secretary.

WASHINGTON, D. C., January 22, 1864.


DEAR SIR: In General Orders, Numbers 100, of 1863, section 3, paragraph 76, it is announced as a part of the law of war that prisoners of war "may be required to work for the benefit of the captors' Government, according to their rank and condition. "

While at Chattanooga, where the population was thin, the army over tasked with building of bridges, roads, rebuilding railroads, and all the labors attending the repair of the communication destroyed by the rebel army, I advised the employment of some 6,000 prisoners taken in battles of Chattanooga upon public work, such as repairing the railroads which the troops from which the prisoners were captured had deliberately labored to destroy, the handling of freight, forage, rations in course of transportation to our own soldiers and to the distressed in habitants of the country, and for the use of these very prisoners. I found the practice sanctioned by the authoritative declaration of military law of General Orders, Numbers 100, and had I been [in] command should have acted under it without reference to Washington for instructions I heard urged against it at Chattanooga were the trouble of taking care of them, a trouble now only transferred to another place, and the fear of retaliation upon our men captives to the rebels. As in my own person I should much prefer labor with ax or spade or pick to rotting in idleness and sloth in prison, this had no weight with me. Labor was much needed. Warmer covering, warmer clothing, more abundant food, must be supplied these prisoners transferred to the rigorous winter climate of Chicago or Rock Island. The cost of transportation to that depot and thence to Richmond is very great. If kept near Chattanooga the time