OFFICE COMMISSARY-GENERAL OF PRISONERS,
Washington, D. C., January 23, 1864.
Colonel WILLIAM WALLACE, Commanding, Columbus, Ohio:
COLONEL: I have received a copy of the report of Lieutenant Colonel L. Humphreys, medical inspector, made to the Surgeon-General, of an inspection of Camp Chase, in which he states that cases have occurred of the wounding of prisoners at night by the guard when they neither were sent to the hospital nor received medical treatment until the next morning. Such treatment of prisoners, whatever may be the necessity for wounding them, is barbarous and without possible excuse, and I trust you will give such orders as will certainly prevent the recurrence of such outrages. He reports also that there is great neglect of cleanliness in the persons of
the prisoners in their barracks and disgracefully so in their sinks. They have nothing to do but police themselves and their
quarters and grounds, and it is inexcusable in the officer in charge to allow this duty to be so grossly neglected. The sinks should be covered and inclosed and the earth should be banked up around them to prevent the surface water from running into them. It is not expected a very perfect condition of things can be arrived at, but by proper attention on the part of officers in charge a more creditable state than now exists can be had. I must depend more upon the energy and intelligence of the commander of the camp for the proper discipline and police than any instructions I can give him.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Colonel Third Infantry and Commissary-General of Prisoners.
Mrs. Rachel Mark states the condition of her husband who was a prisoner and because of sickness and to save his life gave his parole not to take up arms against United States. If taken again will be hung. Prays therefore that he be released from his parole.
JANUARY 23, 1864.
Respectfully returned to the Secretary of War.
This is one of many similar cases. The enemy seeks to destroy our power of raising armies by forcing oaths upon non-combatants. Such a proceeding is without precedent amongst civilized nations. Our authority over the persons who take such oaths is supreme. A military parole given by a soldier not to take up arms until he is exchanged is to be respected, but when a non-combatant is compelled by imprisonment or other duress to subscribe an oath in conflict with his allegiance such oath is unlawful and void. I do not think the enemy will dare to inflict any peculiar pains and penalties on a party giving such an oath, if he is captured. Even if this were not so the Government is bound to claim and enforce its sovereignty.
Agent of Exchange.
NEW YORK, January 24, 1864.
General M. C. MEIGS, &c., Washington, D. C.:
DEAR SIR: You have treated, in your favor of the 22d, paragraph 76 of General Orders, No. 100, of 1863, so completely that I shall hardly be