used for cooking place and exercise for about 260 men; about 100 of these are lodged on one floor of each of these buildings; remainder (privates) occupy the tents. Cells are arranged on both sides of these buildings, about seven by six feet, and are occupied by from four to nine officers. But one door opens to the buildings and no windows, consequently the larger portion of the building [is] too dark even at midday for either reading or writing. No fire is allowed in these buildings. At about 5 p. m. is roll-call, when the inmates are all locked in until 7 a. m. next morning. The cold here is severe. Once since my arrival water would be ice in a moment after it touched the floor. Many of these officers are in rags, scarce enough clothing to cover their nakedness. Many, well nigh shoeless, lay at nights upon a rough, naked board, and in some instances two cover with one blanket, with their hips covered with a rough, horny scab from their nightly contact with their bedless bunks. To avoid freezing to death when the weather is cold much of the night is spent running up and down the building to keep up the circulation. This is done by almost the entire prison. The daily allowance to each man a pint of state meal, about two spoonsful of which is husk and weevils, four ounces of bread, and one-fourth pint of pickles. Three camp-kettles are allowed to each prison as cooking utensils. One stick of green wood about eight feet long and eight inches in diameter for fuel. The cooking is done in the open yard by the prisoners. Old coffee pots, tin kettles, frying-pans--in a word, everything upon which a hoecake can be baked or in which water can be boiled is brought into requisition and used thus. Two or three of a mess pick up their bunch of chips, cup of meal, &c., select a place, open a hole in the sand, pile it around the edge to keep off the wind. Into this the chips are deposited, the fire applied, down drops an officer, his mouth near the coals, and blows until sufficient fire is kindled to prepare his mush or hoecake. From the scanty supply of provisions and wood only two meals are taken per day. It is not uncommon for officers to cut the wood for the hospital for the privilege of picking up and using the chips. I have seen a little piece of dirty grease carefully picked out of the sand, carefully cleaned and put away for use. So perfectly ravenous are the cravings of nature for meat by men thus circumstances that every can about the prison has been eaten, and rats are eaten as readily as a chicken would be at home. The officers and privates garrisoning the prison are kind and courteous, and although a portion of the troops are negroes, still we have no cause of complaint, as they confine themselves strictly to a performance of their duties. I write this letter by the consent of the provost-marshal of the department, who, whilst he enforces with fidelity the orders of his Government, is deeply anxious that Federal prisoners in Confederate prisons might be better treated, so as to bring about an amelioration of the Confederate prisoners both here and elsewhere. May I hear from you? Write via Charleston.
While I remain, as ever, your friend,
GEO. P. HARRISON.
HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF WEST MISSISSIPPI,
New Orleans, La., January 10, 1865.
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
Chief of Staff of the Army, Washington, D. C.:
SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt by mail of copy of your telegram of the 29th ultimo in relation to the shipment of certain