depart somewhat from the instructions I received from Brigadier-General Turner and accordingly issued two blankets to every three men. Instead of murmuring of complaining, these men received them most gratefully, and frequent expressions of thankfulness were made for this token of remembrance by their Government. It was, indeed, a sad sight to see these brave soldiers, who have been suffering for months in this prison from cold and hunger, roll themselves up in their warm blankets and sink at once in a quiet slumber, forgetful of their food and mindful of nothing save of sleep. In this connection allow me to say that not a single commissioned officer here confined would receive a blanket from this lot, all preferring that they should be distributed among the enlisted men.
On January 5, 1865, I received, 1,500 more blankets and on the following morning commenced to distribute them, assisted by Doctor Pierce and Major Owens, of the First Kentucky Cavalry. We issued the following number to prisoners confined in the rooms of Libby Prison: In room Numbers 1, 228; Numbers 2, 210; Numbers 3, 198. We issued to men who had just arrived from Western Virginia, captured in the late raid made by General Stoneman, ninety-two blankets; and here I must say that among all of the prisoners whom I have yet seen these are the most destitute. None had blankets or overcoats. In most cases their hats and coats had been taken from them, and but very few had boots or shoes upon their feet. Many of them could hardly stand, and when the blankets were given to them they seemed too grateful to reply. We then went over to the Pemberton Building and distributed blankets to those men who did not receive them from the first consignment, numbering 588. The next lot was to a class of men whose situation I would most respectfully call your attention. They are a class of men who have been held as prisoners for a long time and are detailed as shoe-makers, broom makers, cooks, carpenters, and tailors. These men say they do it because they were suffering so much for food, receiving double rations for their labor, but there is not one whom I conversed with who is not extremely anxious to be exchanged at once, and all say they are ready to go into the field immediately. Thinking that you may perhaps use the names of these men I most respectfully forward a list with this communication. We distributed blankets to those officers who are held in close confinement as hostages (ten in number). I also issued blankets to the officers, and turned over fifty-six to Captain Watson on the morning of my release from prison. Thus I have completed the issue of blankets sent by you for our prisoners, and believe me, general, it has been a most pleasant duty, and our Government has received the thanks of nearly 3,000 brave men who were suffering sadly for the want of them.
Permit me to call your attention to the necessity of sending clothing to these men. A great many of them are almost destitute of clothes, so long have they been imprisoned. Several hundred are bootless and shoeless; as many are without socks, while a very large number are without coats and jackets. If you will permit me I would recommend that a supply of shoes, shirts, socks, and blouses be sent with a less number of pants, for without them a large number will certainly die during the winter.
I conversed with the majority of these men, and it was the unanimous request that they should be speedily exchanged, and were ready to pledge themselves, willing and eager to join their commands at once, and promise to fight with a stouter heart and more earnest will than ever before.