« PreviousContinue »
Pardon me for calling your attention to their present unhappy con. dition. I know your multiplicity of business and feared perbaps you might not have had sufficient time to look after this matter. I deeply sympathize with all our civil officers from Governors of States up to Cabinet members and President in these times of great care, unceasing anxieties and unending toil, having not only the ordinary labors and cares of office but all the additional labor and care of war times. We pray for you all. We feel that the Lord can sustain you all and overrule our present afflictions for our national and individual good. This war properly conducted will renovate, ennoble and bless our nation. We shall yet be a free and happier people. Only let us carefully observe the working and directions of Providence. Who can tell but like Esther in the Eastern court our present State and national officers have been called to the kingdom for just such a time as this; and though your labors, cares, anxieties, &c., may be greater than any of your predecessors for years yet the reward will be in proportion. It is nothing to build a ship compared with the skill, exposure and labor to run her safe among reefs, shoals, rocks, sands while the waves foam and lash and the tempest howls and beats furiously upon her and yet at last in spite of all land her safe in the desired haven. Our fathers did a great and good work to form and build up this beloved country but the men who will save it will accomplish a far greater.
Please pardon the trespass upon your time. I should not have presumed so much but for the fact that by birth and rearage we are both Marylanders; by adoption Iowans and profession patriots, and purpose death to traitors. Yours,
J. H. BUSER. [Inclosure No. 2.)
MIDDLETOWN, Iowa, July 18, 1862. Hon. SAMUEL J. KIRKWOOD.
DEAR SIR: Inclosed with this I take the liberty of sending you a letter I this day received from a brother in the Fourteenth Iowa Regiment, with the paroled prisoners at present at Benton Barracks, Saint Louis. You are acquainted I presume with the movements of these Iowa paroled prisoners since they entered the Union lines. It appears that they have got into some difficulty with the military authorities in regard to the performance of garrison duty which has been assigned them. It pains us to know that men who have braved death on the battle-field in defense of their country and endured the hardships and sufferings of prisoners in the hands of their enemies should be subjected to more humiliating and degrading treatment from their own Government (or those who represent it) than they did from the rebels. [The Government should certainly require no duty of our paroled prisoners that could be construed as bearing arms against the rebel States, or which they (the prisoners) believed to be a violation of their oath. And if our Government wants 300,000 more troops it should see that its present volunteers were not treated as convicts. If the boys are wrong in the position which they have taken they are honestly and conscientiously wrong sand] measures should be taken that would be calculated to convince them of the fact.
They have not been paid since January and have been entirely desti tute of funds since they returned to our lines, and it was only by great exertion they raised the necessary funds to pay for a dispatch to you in reference to their condition while at Nashville. The only apology which I shall make for troubling you with this is the interest I feel for these paroled prisoners, portions of the Iowa Eighth, Twelfth and Fourteenth, who have done quite as much fighting and endured more hardships perhaps than any troops in the service. As I am almost a stranger to you, for the credibility of both these letters I would refer you to the Hon. James W. Grimes, to whom you may show this correspondence. As your position as chief executive of the State gives you a fatherly care over all our volunteers I take this liberty of calling your attention to this case if you have not been otherwise notified of it. I remain, yours, truly,
J. J. MCMAKEN. [Sub-inclosure.)
CAMP BENTON, July 14, 1862. DEAR BROTHER: I received your letter of the 4th on Saturday evening, it being the first that I had received since we came in our lines. You may know that it was welcomed. I was rejoiced to hear that you were all well. We are all well at present and enjoying ourselves as well as could be expected under the circumstances. The weather is quite warm, but we do not suffer as much from it as we did at Cairo. That is one of the last places I would wish to stay. We had a heavy rain last evening. Old Camp Benton looks quite natural and much more pleasant than it did at any time last winter. The buildings have all been repaired and whitewashed and the grounds all cleared off and all present a healthy and beautiful appearance. I have seen no encampment in all our travels that will compare with it in beauty and convenience. There are but few troops here. It is garrisoned by but four companies of the Twenty-third Regiment Missouri. The remainder of that regiment were taken prisoners with us.
I propose to give you a few items relative to us paroled prisoners. I do not know that I am in the right mood to do so, for I am considerably out of humor as to the proceedings of the authorities here within the last twenty-four hours. For all, it is nothing more than we expected when we left Cairo in such a hurry. To begin, as soon as we reached Nashville we were ordered to organize our company and regiment for the purpose they said of drawing our clothing and rations. This we did. On the heels of this came an order for us to do guard duty in and around our own camp. This we refused to do. Theorder was recalled. About that time the commandant of our camp was changed, a colonel from Indiana being put in command of us. He tried the same thing; first by calling for volunteers. No one responded. He said we must and should do duty. We paid no attention to the order more than to tell him candidly that we could not consistently do it with our oath. There the matter dropped. We were moved to Cairo. There General Strong tried the same thing, and by flattery and promise that he would stand by them through thick and thin he succeeded in getting some of the boys to promise that they would stand guard in their own camp, but in one day the whole thing fizzled and the boys went where they pleased. The evening after we came here we were called out in line and the colonel commanding the post harangued us for half an hour telling us he had sent on for orders to know what duties would be assigned us, and he hoped when he issued said orders that each man would perform those duties cheerfully. We talked the matter over and came to the conclusion that we would perform no duty, let the order come from whatever source it may. We do not feel like breaking our oath any quicker at the command of Secretary Stanton than any of his officers, but we question very much whether such an order has been issued by the War Department. If, however, they have issued such an order compelling paroled prisoners to do garrison duty and relieve other troops to go in the field we have made up our minds to abide the consequence and suffer the penalty of a refusal. If our Government refuses to respect our oath under our present circumstances it has no right to exact of us the conditions of our former oath. We consider we are just as much prisoners as we were when we were inside of the rebel lines. We are here by no act of our Government. While we were in rebel hands it was a matter of choice with us either to take this oath and go home and remain out of the army or stay there. We felt it our duty for the sake of our families and our own health to go home. But behold! as soon as we reach our lines there is an atteinpt to press us into service, forcing us to do the very thing that they so strongly condemn the rebels for doing. Well, last night the colonel issued his orders to our acting captains of regiment calling on us for guard tv-day. The captains flinched; would not stand fire; shoved the responsibility on the men. They went ahead and made the guard detail. The men were called on but promptly refused to obey, and are now lying in the guard-house with ball and chain to their limbs for refusing. It is the ordeal we all expect to go through. We are all perfectly willing go into the service again if the Government will exchange for us, and it had a hundred times better do it than adopt the policy of forcing us in. I should like to have your opinion on the matter. You need not be afraid of influencing us to our injury, as our minds are made up and the thing commenced. Write soon. I shall write to father's folks to-morrow if I can. Yours, as ever,
WM. T. MOMAKEN.
CLINTON, Iowa, July 22, 1862. Hon. EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War:
I explain at the request of General Thomas my dispatch of the 21st. Some 600 or 800 Iowa soldiers of the Eighth, Twelfth, Fourteenth and Sixteenth Infantry were taken prisoners at Shiloh and subsequently released on parole. Attempts were made to make them serve in violation of parole before they arrived at Chicago from Cairo. They were sent forward to be furloughed as was well understood when paroled. They were in some way detained at Benton Barracks and ordered by colonel of Twenty-third Missouri to relieve that regiment, and put on service which they deem inconsistent with their parole; they refused and are put in the guard house. I want them sent home and furloughed until exchanged. It is proposed to treat them as mutineers. I object to such treatment to brave and willing men. I may be mis taken in my views, but the first order to relieve the Twenty-third Missouri was in effect a direct violation of parole. Please answer.
N. B. BAKER, Adjutant-General of Iowa.
IIEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
July 22, 1862. General R. E. LEE,
Commanding Army af Northern Virginia. GENERAL: I take the liberty of sending by the flag-of-truce boat to-day a quantity of medical stores and comforts intended for our sick and wounaed in your hands as well as for those of your own army, knowing that you will see them fairly applied to the purpose for which they are intended. I leave their distribution entirely in your hands. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
GEO. B. MCCLELLAN, ,
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
July 22, 1862 General R. E. LEE,
Commanding Army of Northern Virginia. GENERAL: Mr. Clement Barclay, a wealthy citizen of Philadelphia, has been devoting himself for some months past to the humane object of relieving so far as it has been in his power the sufferings of the sick and wounded of our army. His charities have also been extended to the sick and wounded of your army in our hands whenever opportunity Iras offered. Mr. Barclay thinks that if permitted to visit Richmond he could gather information respecting the necessities of our sick and wounded officers and soldiers who by the fortune of war are your prisoners which would enable him to materially extend his sphere of usefulness. (Mr. Barclay is a wealthy citizen whose only object in this visit is the humane one I have stated. I should be inuch gratified if you should find it consistent with your views to grant the desired permission.) If therefore it is in accordance with your views I should be much gratified if the desired permission could be granted to Mr. Barclay, and I can assure you that in asking for it he has no other pur. pose in contemplation than that indicated.. I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
GEORGE B. MCCLELLAN,
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
July 22, 1862. Brig. Gen. L. THOMAS,
Adjutant-General of the Army, Washington, D. C. GENERAL: By direction of the commanding general I have the honor berewith to transmit a list* in two parts of our sick and wounded released on parole and delivered at City Point the 22d instant. I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
S. WILLIAMS, Assistant Adjutant-General.
SAINT LOUIS, July 22, (1862. Surg. J. C. HUGHES, Keokuk U. 8. Hospital.
Sir: Your letter of the 21st instant has been received. Without letting it be known that you have done so report to the commanding officer at Alton without delay how many prisoners of war are ready for removal from your hospital. Respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. SCOTT KETCHUM, Brigadier-General and Assistant Inspector-General.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF KANSAS,
Fort Leavenworth, July 22, 1862. Col. WILLIAM HOFFMAN,
Third U. 8. Infantry, Commissary-General of Prisoners. COLONEL: Inclosed herewith I have the honor to transmit a list of prisoners of war now at Fort Leavenworth, both paroled and nonparoled, 265 in number. The effective strength of the garrison of the post is but about 300 men, and being in close proximity to a region but lately a hotbed of rebellion and treason and at present far from being confirmed in loyalty, these facts render the safe-keeping of these pris. oners somewhat problematical. With every inducement to break their parole, and there being such restricted means of watching them, the general commanding has not seen fit to parole those recently captured in the Indian Territory. He directs me to ask your earliest convenient attention to this matter that they may be placed where they can be securely guarded. Respectfully, your obedient servant,
SPRINGFIELD, ILL., July 22, 1862. Col. WILLIAM HOFFMAN,
Commissary-General of Prisoners, Detroit, Mich. COLONEL: I have the honor to make the following statement of the condition of the prisoners at Camp Butler: There are 2,250 prisoners at this camp, principally citizens of the States of Tennessee, Arkansas and Alabama, and captured at Fort Donelson and Island No. 10. There are no commissioned officers prisoners at this camp. As a class the prisoners are quite ignorant, wild, reckless and inclined to be insubordinate. Many of them, accustomed to a life of exposure and outdoor exercise, chafe very much under confinement. Many are desperate men and will resort to desperate measures to obtain their ends. Men devoted to their cause and unscrupulous in the means employed. They are treated kindly. They have all necessary articles of comfort. They are allowed every indulgence compatible with their position as prisoners of war. They are quartered in fifteen frame barracks and nearly 200 tents. There are about seventy-five prisoners quartered in each barrack. These barracks are arranged on a line, on the west side of the camp, fronting toward the east. Immediately in front of the line of barracks the tents are arranged in a double line fronting on a wide street running from north to south, affording ample room for the prisoners to exercise and adding very much to the ventilation of the camp. The barracks are provided with good bunks and all other necessary conveniences allowed to soldiers in the U. S. Army. These barracks are not the least crowded, but are poorly arranged for ventilation. I found that cleanliness was not strictly enforced in these barracks and that they were but poorly policed. The tents were generally provided with board floors and some were in possession of camp bedsteads.
The tents I found in a much better state of police. The prisoners living in tents were very much the more comfortable. The barracks are mere shells of buildings, built by contract, poorly ventilated and