War of the Rebellion: Serial 121 Page 0165 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.- UNION AND CONFEDERATE.

Search Civil War Official Records

to get brooms and such other things as are necessary to keep it clean. He says he has made repeated applications for these things, but the persons to whom he has applied have failed to furnish them. Captain Brayton, Fifteenth U. S. Infantry, who has lately assumed the duties of provost- marshal, District of the Etowah, assures me, however, that the prison shall have a complete and through renovation.

The post prison, under charge of Lieutenant- Scovill,- Regiment, is a miserable place, barely affording shelter from the rain, much less protection from cold. it is a mere shell, open at both ends and very dirty. If possible some other place should be prepared as post prison, or this repaired or put in such condition that those confined can at least be protected from the inclemency of the weather.

There are generally three classes of prisoners confined in these prisons; First, Federal soldiers; second, Government employees and citizens; third, prisoners of war. Federal prisoners receive full rations, while all others receive half, except when at work, when they receive something additional. it seems, however, that even half rations are sufficient, except in cold weather, when it is said that all seem to want more than they get. In warm weather they don't eat all of half rations. The only complaint that is made by the prisoners is that they don't get enough wood; that they suffer very frequently from cold. The keepers of prisons tell me that it is sometimes impossible to get even all thy are entitled to for lack of transportation. There seems to be no lack of wood, but a want of the means to get it to the prisons. At the post prison,where they are entitled to thirty cords per month, they got but fourteen for the month of January. Something should be done by which wood enough can be furnished. in all prisons where wood is not sufficient suffering is always very great.

Sometimes men, from the peculiarity of their cases, are confined for months before they can be disposed of. During this time, no matter what the enormity of their crime, I don't think it right that they be compelled to undergo suffering, sometimes far greater than the punishment for their crimes would be. Every crime has its punishment and that punishment is sufficient. I think, therefore, that everything should be done to keep these persons from suffering until they are disposed of by court- martial or otherwise.

In your instructions you directed me to give the names of all prisoners confined and their offenses, whether charges had been preferred against them, and whether acted upon or not. I refrain [from] giving these names for the reason that upon investigation, questioning of prisoners, examination of prison records, &c., I feel that none are unjustly confined,a nd it would, therefore, make a very long and useless report. Men sometimes lie in prison for months owing to some informality in charges, &c., but can not be released because they are really guilty of the crime for which they are confined; others for want of evidence, owing to the difficulty in getting it. To this class belong the "bounty jumpers," and lately some have been confined upon mere statements, but subsequently released and steps taken to prevent the continuance of the practice, There are many causes that delay the prosecution of these persons and prolong their confinement that cannot be remedied. Upon full investigation I find that none are confined unjustly. If you still desire, however, that I furnish the list of names, &c., I will do so, as I have the records in my possession.

I have the honor to be, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Lieutenant and Actg. Asst. Insp. General, Dept. of the Cumberland.