Charleston, and we had no communication by flag of truce at the James River throughout the whole of that time. To have sent such a large number of packages as had collected here to Savannah or Charleston for shipment would, under the existing difficulties of transportation, have been simply a matter of impossibility. It will be seen, therefore, that as we have no control over the movements of the flag-of-truce boat, the present was accumulation of freight at this point is due to circumstances altogether unavoidable. That you may form some idea of the difficulties in the way of forwarding this freight with the desired promptitude, I deem it proper to state that owing to the obstruction of the river for military purposes we have to put off all packages at Boulware's Wharf, about two miles below Chaffin's Bluff, from which point they have to be transported in wagons to Varina, a distance of four miles, and placed on board the Federal flag-of-truce boat.
At our interview with Lieutenant-Colonel Mulford, the Federal assistant agent of exchange, on the 10th instant, which is the first we have had since the completion of our operations in the south, we endeavored to make arrangements for the delivery and reception of all the freight on hand, but owing to the excessive rains about that time both the river and roads were in such a condition as to render either its delivery or reception utterly impracticable.
We are daily expecting the arrival of Lieutenant-Colonel Mulford at Boulware's Wharf, and he has agreed to remain there until all the supplies for our prisoners are delivered to him.
We cannot suggest any remedy for the difficulties of transportation, as it is impossible, in the obstructed condition of the river, to lessen the distance between the places of anchorage of the respective truce boats, nor can we at this time suggest any other point where the same difficulties will not have to be overcome.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. H. HATCH,
Assistant Agent of Exchange.
This report was made by Captain Hatch, my assistant, who had special charge of the subject matter. I, however, know the facts therein stated to be correct.
Agent of Exchange.
RICHMOND, January 19, 1865.
J. J. ABBOTT,
Agent U. S. Christian Commission, Washington, D. C.:
SIR: Your letter of October 28th last only reached me to-day. You can make the inquiries indicated, and any information in possession of the Confederate authorities will be cheerfully communicated. I have already entered into an agreement with the Federal authorities to furnish and receive quarterly returns of deaths of prisoners. A copy of such returns would give you tolerably full information. I take it for granted the U. S. agent will furnish you such a copy. Any inquiry outside of such returns will receive respectful attention.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
Agent of Exchange.