Respectfully referred to Brigadier-General Mason, commanding post of Nashville, who is authorized to furnish copies of this statement of General Wheeler, together with the letter of this date reprimanding Colonel Blackburn and Captain Quinn, to the newspapers of Nashville for publication.*
ROBT. H. RAMSEY.
OFFICE COMMISSARY-GENERAL OF PRISONERS,
Washington, D. C., August 24, 1865.
Bvt. Brigadier General E. D. TOWNSEND,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Washington, D. C.:
GENERAL: In pursuance of your instructions of the 18th instant I proceeded to Fort Delaware to examine into affairs there in regard to prisoners of war and have the honor to submit the following report:
All the prisoners of war have been released except two who were captured with Jeff. Davis and are held awaiting his trial.
The barracks heretofore occupied by prisoners and the troops guarding them and the prison hospital have been vacated and turned over to the Quartermaster's Department. All of these buildings are of a very temporary character and are of little value except as old lumber. If they were sold as they are the purchaser would have to send laborers to take them down, haul them to the dock, and transport them from the island, the expense of which would be nearly as great as the value of the lumber, and but a small sum could be realized from the safe. I would therefore recommend that all these buildings, except the hospital and sugeons' quarters, be taken down by the convicts under sentence at the fort, the best of the lumber to be selected for sale and the refuse to be used for fuel or such other purpose as may be most to the interest of the service. The hospital is the best of these buildings, is most out of the way, and for the present might be permitted to remain as it is, in the possibility that it may be required for some other purpose.
The surgeons' quarters, which are near the hospital, are sufficiently extensive to make a very good post hospital and I recommend that the building be so occupied. There are now some sixty convicts at Fort Delaware, and about 300 can be accommodated inside the fort in rooms appropriated to them, leaving quarters for five companies. The prison barracks are too extensive to be used for the confinement of convicts, and if they are to be used for this purpose considerable alterations and repairs would have to be made. For such an establishment the prison hospital would be most convenient, giving ample room, and being most remote from the fort.
The vacated barracks are infested with rats, which are driven by hunger to every house on the island. All the corn growing in the gardens has been destroyed by them, and it is desirable that the barracks should be removed as soon as practicable that the island may be relieved from this pest.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Bvt. Brigadier General, U. S. Army, Commissary-General of Prisoners.
* See August 26, p. 728.