Duplicate rolls are sent with every party of prisoners forwarded to City Point. One of them is to be delivered with the prisoners with a note opposite the name of every man not delivered, and the duplicate noted in the same manner is to be forwarded to this office, that every prisoner may be accounted for. By the plan pursued by the agent this regulation of the War Department is wholly lost sight of.
It is also reported that the assistant agent declines to give to officers who deliver rebel prisoners to him receipts for them according to grades, but will give a receipt only for the total number without regard to rank. It is required of commanders of these parties that no their return to the station to which they belong they shall make to the commanding officer a report of their service, accounting for all the prisoners placed in their charge and giving the names of all not delivered for exchange. By the course pursued by the assistant agent it is not in their power in many cases to do more than given the number for which they are responsible and the total number delivered.
The rebel agent has delivered on the James River a good many Federal prisoners in mass, without rolls or, as far as I am informed, writing of any kind. These prisoners are sent to Annapolis, where they are distributed to the camp and the hospital, and it is only after much delay and trouble that I can get any accurate reports of their names or numbers.
While deliveries are made in this irregular was on both side it will not be possible for the agents to make an exchange based on accurate numbers.
I have had frequent occasion, while the matter of exchanges was under the direction of Major-General Butler, and since that time, to refer papers in relation to exchanges and other subjects to the assistant agent for exchange, and with rare exceptions these papers have never been returned to me or replied to.
My impression is that few books or files are kept in the exchange office, and the records are in such a condition that it would be very difficult,if not impossible, to recover any paper once laid aside there. I would therefore respectfully suggest that an officer be directed to inquire into the manner in which the duties are performed and the records kept in connection with exchanges, and that where it is found necessary such reforms be ordered as the good of the service demands.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Bvt. Brigadier General, U. S. Army, Commissary-General of Prisoners.
NASHVILLE, TENN., March 31, 1865-7 p. m.
Lieutenant General U. S. GRANT, City Point:
On my return from Memphis I find that Colonel J. G. Parhurst, my provost-marshal-general, has returned without having received any of our prisoners from Forrest. Forrest's excuse was that the prisoners were on the way, but the heavy rains had so damaged the railroad that he could not get them farther north than West Point, and that he had since received orders to send them to Vicksburg and Mobile. Colonel Watts was then (the 13th instant) delivering them to the U. S. authorities.
GEO. H. THOMAS,