WAR DEPARTMENT, Richmond, March 2, 1865.
Judge ROBERT OULD, Commissioner of Exchange, Richmod:
SIR: The Secretary of War desires that you will make application to the Honorable Secretary of the Navy for boats sufficient to assist in transporting prisoners from the point of landing to this city. He trusts that you will be enabled to procure such facilities, as the present arrangement must enatil much suffering and disorder.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
SAML. W. MELTON,
Lieutenant-Colonel and Assistant Adjutant-General.
RICHMOND, March 5, 1865.
Respectfully returned to the Honorable Secretary of War.
I have under my control steam-boat transportation for at least 2,000 prisoners daily. I can bring up the river three times as many prisoners as the enemy delivers, if there is no freshet. The difficulty has not been the want of transportation, but that the transportation which we had could not get up or down the river. Any transportation whicg the Secretary of the Navy could furnish (to any material extent) would be less able to get through the obstructions and stem the current than that whicg we already have. Admiral Semmes has always complied with every request for vessels that I have made upon him. Upon a late occasion he furnished all he had, and when the best of these made the attempt to get through the obstructions it failed, and came near drowning all on board. During a freshet we cannot bring the prisoners up the river, no matter how many boats we have. When there is no freshet I can bring with my present transportation three times as many as the enemy delivers.
Agent of Exchange.
EXCHANGE BUREAU, March 2, 1865.
Honorable ROBERT OULD:
SIR: On Saturday, the 25th ultimo, I went to the wharf at Rocketts at 9 a. m. for the purpose of going to Boulware's Wharf to meet Colonel Mulford, the Federal commissioner, who was to deliver at that point on that day 1,500 of our returning prisoners. I found the river so high that the transport steamer William Allison could not go down on account of being unable to pass the obstructions at Drewry's Bluff. At your request I went down to Boulware's in a small steamer to meet Colonel Mulford with the prisoners. They arrived about 12 o'clock, and I was introduced by him to them. I stated to them that it was impossible on account of high water to get boats down to transport them to Richmond, but that if they were willing to march there I would conduct them. They responded with a cheer and it was my ipression that they were willing uannimously to make the march. After getting inside of our lines a good many of them seemed tired and some of them sick. All this class of men I cut off at General G. W. C. Lee's headquarters and determined to take them to Wilton Bridge, the nearest point on the river above the obstructions at whicg a boat could land. I got him (General Lee) to telegraph to you to send a boat to that point, and also to Admiral Semmes for one of his small propellers, the