General Grant's retaliatory orders. I have just received the following letter:
OFFICE OF COMMISSARY- GENERAL OF PRISONERS,
Washington, D. C., January 21, 1865.
Brigadier General N. B. BUFORD, Helena, Ark:
GENERAL: I am authorized to request that the following- named officers ad enlisted men of the rebel army, who are said to be in close confinement in cells at Helena, Ark., be immediately released and forwarded, under proper guard, to Lieutenant Colonel John E. Mulford, agent for exchange of prisoners, Fort Monroe, Va,. viz: Lieutenant John H. Yerby, Lieutenant Casteel, Lieutenant Thomas, Privates Thomas A. Quarles, Thomas Stoneham, and John [G] Smith. Please report your action.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. W. WESSELLS,
Brigadier General, U. S. Volunteers, Inspector and Commissary- General of Prisoners.
and in compliance with it send five of the prisoners first named, and also Captain John R. Swan, of Dobbin's brigade, who has been guilty of the same offenses charged to the others, but, captured since then, to General Canby, at new orleans, for his decision whether he will forward them to Fortress Monroe, as requested by General Wessells, or make other disposition of them. A long time ago I sent J. G. Smith,f with other prisoners, North. I do this as the men will be less liable to escape by this route than by the northern route, if forwarded to Fortress Monroe, and will be less expensive to the Government. I send you the prisoners in charge of Lieutenant A. D. Atkinson, of the Twenty- third Wisconsin Infantry. The guard is furnished by the Sixty- eight U. S. Colored Infantry, who are en route to New Orleans. Lieutenant Atkinson is ordered to return when he turn over his prisoners and gets your answer.
I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
N. BN. BUFORD,
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF EASTERN ARKANSAS,
Helena, Ark., February 3, 1865.
Brigadier General H. W. WESSELLS,
Commissary- General of Prisoners:
SIR: Your letter of the 21st ultimo is received. one of the prisoners named, J. G. Smith, was sent to Northern prisons via Cairo some months ago. The others, First Lieutenant T. [C.] Casteel, First Arkansas Cavalry; First Lieutenant J. H. Yerby, First Arkansas Cavalry; First Lieutenant W. H. H. Thomas, adjutant Ninth Missouri Infantry; Private T. Stoneham, First Arkansas Cavalry; Private T. A. Quarles, First Arkansas Cavalry, and Captain J. R. Swan, of Dobbin's brigade, who is guilty of the same offenses as the others,will be sent to Fortress Monroe, via New Orleans, by the first boat, with a statement of their cases to Major General E. R. S. Canby.
These men have not been confined in cells nor with ball and chain, but for security have been locked up at night. They have had the privileges of the whole building and yard during the day. They have twice plotted an escape.
My report to General Canby, which was also made to General Steele on the 1st of May last, shows these men have been midnight marauders on the leased plantations near this place; that they have at different times, before they were captured, stolen 300 horses and mules, besides money, clothing, and provisions, from peaceful loyal citizens and freedmen.
12 R R- SERIES II, VOL VIII