The reason why these are not included was on account of my being unauthorized to agree to give army equivalents for any excess the enemy might hold.
Mr. Ould now proposes that we release mutually all persons captured on the high seas and inland waters without regard to numbers or upon the same basis of equivalents agreed upon for Government transport-service men, seamen rating as privates, and the officers a grade or two above. This proposition involves the release of all blockade-runners, and would also include the captors of the Chesapeake, &c. Unless exceptions in cases of that class were made, I can see no objection, with my limited knowledge of this class of persons held by us, to an arrangement for the relief of those held by the enemy. Our authorities have from time to time discharged unconditionally numbers of persons captured on board blockade-running vessels. I think, however, there are quite a number of this class of prisoners held by us at Forts Delaware, Lafayette, and Warren. As these are now the only prisoners who have not been arranged for I respectfully call your attention to the subject and await instructions.
Very respectfully, &c.,
JNO E. MULFORD,
MEDICAL DIRECTOR'S OFFICE,
MIDDLE DEPARTMENT, EIGHTH ARMY CORPS,
Baltimore, Md., February 23, 1865.
Bvt. Brigadier General W. HOFFMAN,
Commissary-General of Prisoners:
GENERAL: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your indorsement on a communication relating to the issue of separate rations to the rebel prisoners confined in West's Buildings U. S. General Hospital, in this city, and respectfully request your attention to the great difficulty which must of necessity arise in the execution of your instructions.
First. The locality of this hospital and its ample accommodations render its occupancy by Union as well as rebel sick and wounded almost an absolute necessity. All the sick and wounded that arrive here by water are landed at the wharf adjoining it, and all patients transferred North take their departure from the depot near it, and bad cases of sick and wounded are from necessary admitted here.
Second. The number of Union patients and attendants at the present time exceeds the number of rebel prisoners, and in view of the exchange now taking place the number of Union patients will be greatly in excess.
Third. The drawing, issuing, cooking, and serving of separate rations will require a material charge in the internal arrangements of the hospital.
Fourth. The rebel prisoners treated in this hospital are mostly very sick or severely wounded, and require a diet materially differing from the prison ration to afford them a fair chance for recovery, and the saving on the ration of the limited number treated would at all times be insufficient to purchase such articles of diet as are provided for in paragraph 6, General orders, Numbers 1, of 1865, and no prison fund could be accumulated.
It is therefore respectfully requested that the regulation applied to hospitals connected with large prison depots be not applied to this hospital, and that separate issues, returns, and fund accounts connected