HEADQUARTERS ROCK ISLAND BARRACKS,
Rock Island, Ill., January 18, 1865.
Respectfully returned to Brigadier General H. W. Wessells, Inspector and Commissary-General of Prisoners, with the following remarks: The issues to prisoners of war at this depot have always been made in accordance with the various orders issued from the Bureau of the Commissary-General of Prisoners, and the most liberal construction has invariably been placed on those orders. When the rations to prisoners were reduced by Circular Numbers 2, June 1, 1864, I gave directions to the issuing commissary to weigh 100 pounds of bread to every 100 men, so that if the loaves should at any time be of short weight the prisoners would not be the sufferers by it. The issuing commissary, Captain Lawrence, of my regiment, is an upright and conscientious officer and perfectly reliable, so there cannot be the least doubt but the prisoners receive all that is allowed them by that circular. In regard to the issue of clothing, scarcely a day passes without from 20 to 100 being brought out to receive such articles as they are in need of, and the general appearance of the prisoners here gives the lie to all such statements, especially of starvation, as, generally speaking, a more robust set of men cannot be found. I regard the article in question as having its birth in this vicinity, as it bears on its face the finger marks of the editor of the copperhead paper, who, failing in his attempt to bring official notice to the article forwarded to you by Mr. Harris, Member of Congress, and in his desire to find fault with the Government and myself and to pander to the tastes of the disloyal, has taken the method of transporting it to Chicago, as coming from a Union, Christian lady of that city. The loyal press and the people of this section understand the matter, and it has been handled in a way not very flattering to the authors of such vile trash. If the suggesting of the Commissary-General of Subsistence should be adopted and an official contradiction made the strongest language may be used, with the perfect assurance that the facts in the case will bear it out.
A. J. JOHNSON,
Colonel Fourth Regiment Veteran Reserve Corps, Commanding Post.
[Inclosure Numbers 1.]
STARVING PRISONERS OF WAR.
We have often received communications in regard to the treatment of prisoners of war confined in the several prisons of the North, but we have generally declined publishing them, because we were unwilling to believe that the cruelties they referred to could be practiced in a civilized land, and we concluded that the accounts so given were misrepresentations or exaggerations. But we are constrained to publish to-day a statement respecting the condition of Southern prisoners at Rock Island, Ill., revealing such inhumanity that we are sure the public will be startled, as we were, by the perusal. The details given are painful in the extreme,and we give them publicity because the character of the writer is such that we have not the slightest doubt that her representations are strictly true in every particular. By the language of the letter it will be perceived that the writer is a Unionist in sentiment. She is a lady of unquestionable veracity, great purity of character, and true Christian charity. We have no excuse for withholding the publication of facts that come to us from such a source,and we do