of an excuse for any violation of the rules of civilized warfare in the treatment of prisoners.
In stepping aside for one moment from the line of labor indicated in the order of the Surgeon-General to offer some suggestions with referene to the amelioration of suffering, I am well aware that the same principles of enlarged humanity displayed in the management of the medical department by the Surgeon-General in his varied and diffiult relations to the Federal prisoners, as well as to the sick and wounded of the Confederate armies, actuates the President as well as all the higher officers of the Government, and that no effort has been spared by the Confederate authorities, through Colonel Robert Ould, agent of exchange, to effect an immediate and complete exchange of the Federal prisoners in their hands.
As long as the Confederate Government is compelled to hold these prisoners as hostages for the safe exchange of the captive men of its own armies, it is difficult to see how the sufferings of such an immense army of prisoners, equal in numbers at least to one-fourth of the Confederate forces actively engaged in the field, can to any extent be mitigated in a purely agricultural country, sparsely settled, with imperfect lines of communication, with an inflated and almost worthless currency, with no commerce, with few or no manufactories of importance, cut off from all communication with the surrounding world, and deprived of even the necessary medicines, which have been declared "contraband of war" by the hostile government. With torn and bleeding borders, with constantly dimisnishing powers of subsistence and resistance, with its entire fighting population in arms, with a constant retreat of the armies and population upon the central portions of the country, and with corresponding demands upon the supplies of the overcrowded interior, and with corresponding increase of travel upon the dilapidated railroads, the maintenance of the prisoners becomes every day more difficult and onerous. In Georgia especially, the very State in which these men are confined, are the disasters of war felt with daily increasing force. The disastrous campaign in Northern Georgia has been attended with the almost utter desolation of this portion of the State. Hundreds of families have lost all. The women and children of Atlanta (the third city in size in Georgia) have been driven out by the imperative orders of General Sherman. Thousands of old men, women, and children have fled from the towns and villages, from Chattanooga to Atlanta, to those portions of the State considered more safe from invasion, and are occupying old cars, sheds, and bush tents along of Tennessee have been in a state of perpetual motion, crowding back upon one another in the interior of the State; every railroad depot is a hospital, and almost every train is crowded with its living freight of sick and wounded men.
Hospital gangrene and pyemia are prevailing to an alarming extent upon the wounded of the Army of Tennessee, whose systems have been broken down not only by the arduous campaign culminating in the stubborn defense of Atlanta, but more especially by the scant diet of corn and salt meat, and by the unavoidable crowding into box-cars and badly ventilated hospitals suddenly impressed to meet the emergency. It is, therefore, with some appreciation of the great difficulties of the situation that I respectfully present to the consideration of the Surgeon-General the conditions which I believe to be absolutely essential to the relief of these suffering prisoners:
(a) Such an increase of the Confederate guard as will allow of the enlargement of the prison and hospital grounds to at least four times