War of the Rebellion: Serial 119 Page 0974 PRISONERS OF WAR AND STATE, ETC.

Search Civil War Official Records

were not delivered to Confederate prisoners there, true, Ould refused, owing to a cry arising in the newspapers at Richmond that he was furnishing our prisoners with their boxes, while the Confederate prisoners were deprived of their boxes, to permit any boxes to be sent to our men under his charge unless I would assure him that the Confederate prisoners under my charge received their boxes, and as I had long since been taught, "Do as you would be done by," this seemed to me eminently just, and I therefore gave an order to General Marston that the boxes containing nothing contraband or hurtful sent from private sources might be delivered to the prisoners and informed Mr. Ould by the last flag-of-truce boat of that fact, and received his assurance through the assistant agent of exchange that the boxes sent by the friends of our prisoners should be delivered to them.

I agree fully that the delivery of packages to prisoners causes the commanders of camps a great deal of trouble. The question certainly gives me a great deal, but I undergo that trouble very cheerfully, and would if it were twice as much, in order that our prisoners may get even small alleviations for their sufferings than that which they receive from their friends.

I have conversed with many of our prisoners on that subject and they say that the boxes received from their friends have been almost a source of support to them, and they were complaining loudly of the Confederate Government because that source of supply had of late been substantially cut off.

The last number of prisoners that escaped left on Monday, and the assurance that Mr. Ould sent me was given on the same day and they had not heard of the resumption of the delivery of packages, but I have no doubt it has been resumed.

I agree with you fully that the rebel prisoners in our hands are abundantly fed, but I suppose that when you and I were at school we were abundantly fed and our stewards at that time hardly thought it an imputation upon their feelings because we received boxes of sweetmeats and cakes from home. Pardon me, but I look at this matter, so far as the rebel prisoners are concerned, pretty much in the same light. But with our soldiers in their hands it is a matter, as I am instructed, of almost entire subsistence.

In the meantime, therefore, I desire to have and shall have the delivery of packages made in accordance with the views herein contained, unless specially directed to the contrary by the Secretary of War; for I cannot ask the Confederate commissioner to deliver boxes to our prisoners from their friends while I refuse to deliver boxes from their friends to their prisoners. Whenever the time comes for our Government to retaliate upon these men of the wrongs done to our prisoners I assure you it shall be done in a much more explicit and telling manner than by withholding boxes and provisions from their prisoners sent them by their friends.

In the meantime I do not permit anything to come from the Confederate Government or from State governments of the Confederacy for the support of their prisoners, for that would be an implied admission that we were not supporting them sufficiently; and therefore when Governor Vance, of North Carolina, forwarded through Commissioner Ould a draft for $9,000 in favor of the Governor of New York, to be by the Governor of New York expended for the benefit of North Carolina prisoners in our hands, I retained such draft and still do retain it, and have notified Mr. Ould unofficially, and shall hereafter inform him officially, if such relations ever exist between us, that the United