Page images

will state the fact to the Secretary of War for his action. The commanding officer will immediately appoint a high-toned and careful officer to act as assistant post commissary to receive the provisions from the hands of the contractors for the prisoners. It shall be his duty to attend personally at every issue by the contractors. He will see that the precise amount called for at each issue is weighed out and delivered to him, and that it be the net and not the gross weight of the provisions that he receives. The quantity of the ration drawn by him and issued to the prisoners will be that allowance prescribed by the board of council and the amount over this allowance will be at each issue not drawn from the store-house, but charged to the contractors, and at the end of the month the commissary who pays the contractors for stores will deduct the price of this amount not issued and turn the sum of money over to the commanding officer of the post, to be disposed of by him as is elsewhere prescribed by the commissary.general of prisoners. The commanding officer will ascertain by daily examination what part of the ration should be thus reserved and how much, while he preserves, however, the amount set down by the “board of council” (a list of which accompanies the instructions to the commanding officer) as a general standard to guide bin. Upon receiving the provisions the officer appointed for that purpose as above referred to shall place them in charge of the steward of each prison, who will immediately issue them to the different messes of the prisoners, under his (the commissary officer's) personal superintendence. The whole duties of the prison stewards shall hereafter be to issue to each mess in proportional amounts the provisions and the fuel and quarterinaster's stores. Fresh beef will hereafter be issued five times a week instead of twice as heretofore, not only to the prisoners but to all troops at the post, and necks and shanks will not be issued as part of the ration as heretofore.

As the prisoners have used milk to secretly correspond, in evasion of prison regulations, the sale of it hereafter or furnishing it to them in any manner is probibited. Each prisoner until further orders will be allowed as heretofore one plate, cap, knife and fork and such cooking utensils as with the arrangements for cooking the commanding officer deems requisite. The “ fund” of the prisoners which will accumulate in the manner above detailed will be kept separate from the fund of the other troops at the post. The same officer detailed as above described to attend to the issues to the prisoners of commissary stores will also personally supervise the drawing from the contractors, weighing and issuing to all troops at the post the rations supplied by the contractors. Such portions of the rations as the commanding officers may find by daily experience may be well spared by the troops will not be drawn, but will be dealt with in the same manner as already directed for the prisovers, thus providing for the accumulation of a post fund for the guard of the prisons.

In order to systematize the records of the post the commanding officer will cause to be kept at the post a reception book, in which will be entered the date of the confinement of prisoners and all data necessary for a complete description of them and of their history as forwarded to the commanding officer, with the exception of the charges against them, which will be kept in a book used solely for the purpose of recording the charges under the immediate care of the commanding officer. A large description report book will be kept of the same form as already described to the commanding officer and a ledger containing the accounts of the prisoners' funds; also a morning report book of pris. oners, the form of which has been already given to the commanding officer. Forms of the descriptive report book and morning report books are inclosed to the commissary.general. If necessary these books will be purchased by the quartermaster. Prisoners will not generally at their request be furnished with the charges against them, but whenever the commanding officer is satisfied from an examination of the prisoner that he ought in justice to know the charge against himself because of his desire to return to his allegiance, or of his innocence or ignorance of crime or offense, or of his having been forced into service of the rebels, or for other reasons which in his opinion are sufficient, he will allow the prisoner to be informed if not prejudicial to discipline so to do. For the purpose of enabling Major Darr, provost-marshalgeneral of the Mountain Department, to keep a record of all political prisoners arrested and sent to Camp Chase from his departinent and to retain their fuul history the commanding officer of Camp Chase will at the request of Major Darr furnish him with a list of all those prisoners who sent from that department have died, been released or transferred, or who have escape from Camp Chase or who may yet be included under these heads. In all cases where applications for release or parole from the prisoners are forwarded to the commissary general for his action the commanding officer shall after a personal examination of the prisoner under oath indorse upon the said application his opinion and recommendation. He will cause to be forwarded with the application the statement of the prisoner supported by all the testimony which the prisoner may be able to collect that such statement is truthful, and he will permit the prisoner to consult by correspondence those parties from whom he may desire to obtain corroborative testimony.

In the issue of clothing to prisoners, drawers and socks will not be issued from the last of April to the first of October.

The confinement of officers and soldiers in the same quarters will be avoided. The former will be allowed a separate building and as far as possible enlarged accommodations. No Union prisoners will under any circumstances be confined with the rebel prisoners whatever be their offense, as it is always a matter of injustice to either one or the other class of prisoners, and those at present confined in prisons will be immediately confined at the guard house instead.

In the accounts of all and each of the “funds" which may accumulate at the camp they will be kept separately. The prison hospital fud, the guard hospital fund, the prisoners' fund of the prisons and the fund of the guard or troops each will stand by itself and a monthly report to the commissary-general be made of each.

No changes will be made in enlarging, increasing or extending the accommodations of the prisoners or alteration in them of a material character of any kind not contemplated by the regulations from the Commissary-General of Prisoners or in these instructions without first having the approval of the Commissary General of Prisoners.

All material changes in the buildings of the camp or the construction of others must be done by estimates approved by him. All matters of doubt in questions contemplating important changes must be referred to the Commissary-General of Prisoners for his decision. The sutler will be taxed 10 cents per man per month for the privilege of selling to the prisoners and this tax will go to the prison fund. These comprise most of the special instructions given to the commanding officer. I shall, however, aid him in dividing the prisoners' messes so as to suit the capacity of the "boilers," six of which are already purchased and set up; instruct him how the rations are to be cooked, post him in the matters of the “funds" and the office books and all other matters which will as I believe meet your views. You will, colonel, doubtless be surprised at the detail of these instructions to the commanding officer of so important a position as Camp Chase. But these "instructions” to this point from the middle of the fourteenth page of this report to the present page I have copied just as they are here detailed except that they are to him inore clearly stated and given them to him in writing at his own request. He is utterly ignorant of the most common requirements of the Army Regulations, but a “good lawyer” or he is said to be. I found the contractors issuing necks and shanks to the troops and prisoners, and, as I have every reason to believe, the gross instead of the net weight was the standard of issue. The provisions were weighed in the presence of no one representing the parties to whom they were to be issued but dealt out by the contractors alone, pitched into a cart in the coarsest, roughest manner, which was driven off to the prisons or the camps and the contents thrust out to the care or rather questionable honesty of those non-commissioned three months' stewards to be delivered to the prisoners under the supervision of no one.

The contractors or rather their agents were arbitrary in their behavior and insolent at my interference. Under the present arrangement I am satisfied that the most extensive frauds have been constantly committed in these issues. They even attempted to inform me that necks were always issued in the Regular Army. I will instruct them, however, in their proper duties before I leave you may be assured. The commanding officer is ignorant of any method of remedying this, but resignedly informed me that he thought it wrong.

These stewards have heretofore made out the requisitions for provisions for the number of prisoners that they thought proper to do. The commanding officer has signed it without inquiry generally I am satisfied, and the steward does the rest.

The commanding officer has no idea of a fund or how it is to accumulate. I shall instruct him. He has no knowledge of the importance of discipline and of the effect upon it of citizens lounging in great numbers about the camp. It is pleasing to him to talk and guide and explain to them all curious points of interest constantly and this tone and disposition prevails among his executive officers. I shall insist upon their exclusion, however, and it will be done; but that I may not raise any question of your authority with the Governor I have first yielded to bis as before stated. In order to prepare the prisoners for the considerable labor before them I wrote out and had the commanding officer sign and post up in the prisons the inclosed order. satisfied by conversation with the prisoners that the work will be done cheerfully. I shall have the Governor approve of what I do and of all of my instructions. I sincerely trust that whatever you may think of them you will take no means to recall them before I fully explain to you as I cannot well do on paper the necessity for each one of them. I have before stated that my task here was a delicate one.

I will now endeavor to explain the difficulties in the way of a rigid application of your instructions so long as the Governor looks upon this camp from his present point of view. He regards this (as I ascertained by conversation) as a camp of instruction of the State of Ohio for its recruits, of which camp he considers that he controls the soldiers and you care for the prisoners together with him; for he desired me to submit to him all orders or instructions given by me. He paroles prisoners within the limits of the town and be gives instructions to Colonel Allison, the commanding officer, relating to their control and discipline. He grants permits to visit them, &c., and he is still jealous I am convinced of interference with this exercise of authority. On Friday afternoon, the 11th, he issued orders that seven companies of the troops at the camp should hold themselves in readiness to march to Kentucky, and had they gone but 180 effective men would have been left. As it is all but about 480 have gone.

I had an interview with his authorities (as he was absent thirty miles from town when he issued the order) and represented the inadequacy of the guard which under the first order would remain, and the order was changed leaving the present number. I deemed it unnecessary to telegraph to you the fact without being able to explain the whole matter. Under a recent order Camp Chase is made the place of rendezvous for all furloughed and paroled or disabled soldiers in the State. About these he gives to the commanding officer such orders as he pleases. The hospital is swarmed with them and about 100 lie about the various quarters of the camp, most of them doing no duty. The hospital originally arranged for the close accommodation of fifty patients bas in it treble that number. This has been the case for forty days or more. Hence the surgeon has so much labor to perform that he does not visit the prisoners but once a week but leaves them to the stewards and to inefficient rebel amateur practitioners who have a parole of the camp as before stated for the purpose. The first article of the regulations submitted by me to the commanding officer by your orders holds him responsible for the discipline and security of the prisoners. Yet the Governor takes away from him ad libitum the means for that security. The regulations by you require that the commanding officer sball maintain discipline and order in his command. The Governor orders as he thinks proper the troops, furloughed men'or others assembled or assem bling. The commanding officer of the camp is uncertain and in constant doubt as to whom he should go for instructions, which together with his ignorance of his duties quite overpowers him. I have carefully instructed him that for the present he will consider the character and number of the troops sent to Camp Chase or placed or to be placed there as in the hauds of the Governor; that he will immediately report to you, however, whenever he may not have a sufficient guard, that you may take such steps as may be deemed best. I have informed him that the discipline and police of the whole camp is under his (the commanding officer) special direction regulated by you as having general charge of that matter, and that everything relating to it and to estimates for building, the sutler, &c., must be referred to you. But even here it is difficult to see that if this is a camp of instruction and so far under the Governor's control how the orders for the instruction or discipline of troops can be considered by the Governor or by the commanding officer as not superior to your orders to the commanding officer. At least this is the construction both by the Governor and commanding officer, which I am satisfied exists in the minds of both and in the minds of all surrounding them.

I do not, colonel, refer to this in a questionable or discussive manner, but with the view of pointing out to you the difficulty which much embarrassed me for awhile but which I have avoided by carefully evading any contact with it, and have always submitted all instruc tions given by me as well as all of your instructions to me to the Governor for his inspection. Thus far he has opposed nothing but that part of your regulations relating to visitors and paroles to which I have already referred. He considered your regulation relating to the establishing of a fund among the soldiers as impracticable for the reason that the troops were continually changing. I will endeavor to fully demonstrate in a practical manner that he is mistaken. I have directed the quartermaster to prepare for your approval an estimate for hospital enlargements. The present accommodations are insufficient for tire camp even were there not more than 1,500 men present. In his letter to you the Governor recommends the removal of the prison camp to another point on ground nearer the city. Permit me to say that the recommendation should not in my opinion be acted upon under the reasons assigned by him for its removal, as the ground at the bluff as he calls it is of the same character and on the same level as the present camp, and the drainage is no better nor is the soil in any particular better. He objects to the present stench as annoying the instruction camp. This will be completely removed by having the present drain covered throughout the entire camp, as I have directed, and by baving the filth from the privies inclosed instead of carried into the main rain of the camp, the above referred to open ditch, and extended through it by this drain which has no running water except when it rains.

I have estimates for enlarging and improving the camp as proposed by you and will at an early moment submit them. I will explain further upon these matters when I see you.

No negroes are confined at the camp. They were several weeks since released. Of the escape of the prisoners I will submit to you soon all data which can be collected. I am assisting the commanding officer in making to you as complete a report as possible of the prisoners who have been confined here. It will be necessarily an incomplete report, however, as the records have been kept in a very irregular and careless manner, without systein or order. Oscar F. Knox, prisoner of war, surgeon, was released on the 24th ultimo from Camp Chase. In order that the Governor's special views might be immediately presented to you le soon after my arrival desired me to return for “fresh instructions," and since then has so expressed himself that little can be done unless the prison camp is removed. I determined, however, to fully inform myself before I attempted to inform you or submit his ex parte recommendations for your consideration; hence my necessary delay in making this report. From the facts involved I cannot think it advisable for any reason to put the Government to the expense and trouble of removing the camp. All that is required is effective police, good arrangements of the present materials and an energetic and intelligent commanding officer to carry out rigidly proper instructions. This done and in my opinion all of the conditions of a good camp may be fulfilled, both of health and discipline.

There are unquestionably a large number of prisoners amounting perhaps to nearly 200 confined here whose cases I think you would upon examination declare to be those of unjust confinement. From personal interviews with some I am of this opinion, and the Governor has informed me that there are this number, and he is of the same opinion relative to their release and recommends that some one be authorized here to examine into and release upon proper proof being presented to them. There are among the prisoners two idiots, two insane and several so maimed as to be utterly harmless in any community.

I inclose to you in separate package the Governor's letter, the forms of books which I have ordered; the three others are common blank books. I inclose in separate package a copy of my letter to the Quartermaster General in a matter which was referred to me. The Governor said of it that it was exactly right. In separate package I

« PreviousContinue »