clothing and provisions not only from relations, but from sympathizers and those who were disposed to do all in their power to promote the cause of the rebellion by providing for all the wants of the rebels in our hands, thereby giving essential aid and comfort to the enemy. The pressure upon commanders was attended with much embarrassment, and if any latitude was allowed them it was scarcely possible to prevent its being overstepped.
The reasons urged by General Butler for suspending the restrictions are readily appreciated, but there is a wide difference between what Mr. Ould asks for rebel prisoners and what he grants to Federal prisoners. He is willing to permit the friends of the prisoners held in Richmond or other rebel prisons to send from the loyal States via Fort Monroe boxes of clothing, provisions, &c., and to make the privilege reciprocal he can only ask that the friends of rebel prisoners held by us may be permitted to send from the rebel States the same class of articles and by the same route, but he asks that contributions may be received by rebel prisoners from the friends of the rebellion in the North, a privilege which is scarcely admissible.
The prisoners we hold are well fed and clothed, and there is no necessity for the interference of friends, but it is not so with Federal officers and soldiers in rebel prisons; they must suffer greatly for food and clothing, unless they are supplied by public or private contributions from the loyal States. To accomplish this very desirable end, I would respectfully suggest that General Butler be directed to propose to Mr. Ould a reciprocity arrangement, viz, that the prisoners held by either party shall be permitted to receive from public or private sources within their respective lines, to be forwarded via City Point and some point to be agreed upon in the West, such articles of food and clothing as may be necessary for the welfare of the prisoners. Should this proposition be rejected then it should be considered whether for the sake of our suffering officers and soldiers in rebel prisons it will be advisable to consent to an agreement which gives the rebels so many advantages.
I do not concur with General Butler in recommending that rebel prisoners be permitted to buy such clothing or other articles, liquors excepted, as they may desire. Such a privilege would be attended with many inconveniences, besides enabling them to fit themselves out with a serviceable outfit, for which transportation would have to be furnished when they are sent South for exchange, and there would be no corresponding advantage on our side, as our prisoners would find few similar articles in the Richmond markets within their reach.
In this connection I beg leave to submit herewith two letters* from Colonel Richardson, commanding Camp Chase, suggesting the necessity of authorizing the sale of certain articles to prisoners of war, and also a list of articles which I had the honor some time since to recommend might be sold at each prison station by a suitable person to be selected by the commanding officer. The sale of these articles, I think, might be allowed without detriment to the service.
I beg, leave, also, to submit a copy of my letter to General Butler+ to which his is a reply. I also inclose a communication bearing upon this subject received from Brigadier-General Lockwood since the foregoing was written.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Colonel Third Infantry and Commissary-General of Prisoners.
* See February 13 and 18, pp. 947, 966.
+ See February 15, p. 954.