P. S. -I do not by any means desire to disobey the order or to shrink from the performance of any duty; on the contrary I only question my right or authority to act in the premises now and the desire of major-general commanding to have the action ordered carried into execution as the case stands, as he was not aware of the facts now existing when the order issued.
Meantime vigilance shall be used to guard, protect, and prevent escape of prisoners by all the force under me or at my command.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. H. SPARKS,
Major, Commanding Post.
WAR DEPARTMENT, Washington, D. C., March 21, 1864.
Major General B. F. BUTLER,
Commanding Dept. of Virginia and N. Carolina, Fort Monroe, Va.:
SIR: The Secretary of War directs me to acknowledge the receipt, by reference from the Commissary-General of Prisoners, of your communications of the 4th and 11th instant. In reply to your request for the transfer to Point Lookout of the prisoners of war now at Fort Delaware I am instructed to say that the Secretary does not deem it expedient to approve it from the fact that he considers the last-named place by far the safer of the two. With regard to your suggestions for a declaration of exchange the Secretary does not consider the alleged fact that all the equivalents are serving in the Confederate Army against us, while we cannot make the declaration as a sufficient reason for us to disregard the proper rules for the exchange of prisoners, nor does he think that the proper remedy of such irregularities is to be found in following Mr. Ould's example.
Very respectfully, &c.,
ED. R. S. CANBY,
Brigadier-General and Assistant Adjutant-General.
(Copy to Colonel W. Hoffman.)_
Charleston, S. C., March 21, 1864.
Lieutenant Colonel ALFRED ROMAN:
COLONEL: Pursuant to orders I visited on the 19th instant the Charleston jail in order to investigate the complaints of the Federal prisoners* against the fare of this prison and the treatment they met with at the hands of the jailer.
The officers spoke in the highest terms of the kindnesses bestowed upon them by the superintendent and the employees; as to the privates, they expressed themselves satisfied with the food and bedding furnished them.
Eighteen deserters stated to me that they could not conscientiously complain though they had asked one of the prisoners to write a letter to these headquarters calling their attention upon the unwholesome condition of the fare; that they were tired of the war, were anxious to be set at liberty in order to work in one of the Government shops or to be sent back to their native places-Canada and Ireland.
Captain and Assistant Adjutant-General.
*See William A. Young and others to Beauregard, p. 1057.