General Forrest ifnormed me that the Federal prisoners were mostly at Cahaba Mines, and that he understood there were from 7,000 to 10,000 Federal prisoners in General Taylor's department.
If so large a number of prisoners should be delivered here it will take some time to get them transported to Saint Louis, as there are no boats here capable of carrying over 400 or 500 men. I would respectfully suggest that to save time and to secure the use of boats for other purposes, the men be sent from this point to Cairo by boat, and be sent from Cairo to Saint Louis by railroad. As these prisoners will be exceedingly anxious to reach their homes, it will be difficult to prevent them leaving the boat and the cars en route to Saint Louis, unless a guard is placed over them, and I wouold ask for instructions upon the subject and authority to request a suitable detail for a guard en route, and for an extra guard in case of a transfer from the boats to the cars take coal, and from there till they are delivered at Benton Barracks. If a detail of infantry troops could be sent to Johnsonville to report on the boats for dury it would be preferable to taking a guard of cavalrymen from this point.
General Forrest expected to get the prisoners to Iuka by the 3rd or 4th instant, but I fear it will be several days later before they reach there.
Permit me to inquire if the general commanding expects me to deliver the prisoners to the officer in charge of Benton Barracks, or will an officer be detailed for that purpose?
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. G. PARKHURST,
Colonel and Provost-Marshal-General.
[Sub-inclosure Numbers 1.]
HDQRS. CAVALRY, DEPT. OF ALA., MISS., AND EAST LA.,
Rienzi, Miss., February 23, 1865.
Major General G. H. THOMAS,
Commanding Department of the Cumberland, Nasville, Tenn.:
GENERAL: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your favor of the 17th instant per Colonel Parkhurst.*
Your proposition to exchange prisoners is accepted, subject, however, to the approval of the lieutenant-general commanding this department, which I have no hesitation in saying wil be readily given. Will inform you by flag of truce at the earliest possible moment of his approval, and think the prisoners now in our hands can be delivered at Iuka by the 3rd or 4th of March.
The trains also for supplying the destitute citizens along the line of the Mobile and Ohio and the Memphis and Charleston Railroads will be run subject to the conditions named in your letter. No Confederate soldiers or officers will be authorized or allowed to go upon those infested by lawless bands of deserters from both armies, and in case they should force themselves upon the train I hope you will not act hastily in the matter. To prevent such an occurrence was my reason for proposing to place sufficient guard upon the trains to enforce a strict observance of the agreement in good faith.
I will place in the hands of the conductors operating the train or trains a safeguard, enumerating and naming each man upon the train,
* See Series I, Vol. XLIX, Part I, p. 735.