From the Richmond Examiner, 10/5/1863
CITY COUNCIL - Friday, October 2d, 1863. - This body of wise, grave and reverend seignors, pursuant to a call of their President, met solemnly in their chamber at four o'clock this evening.
The President announced that his object in calling the meeting was to lay before the Council an application of General Winder for permission to take the new city Alms House, now rented to the Confederate States as a hospital for Confederate sick and wounded. The President then stated that General Winder was present and could himself better express his wishes.
General Winder said he had very little to say beyond a plain statement of facts. Yankee prisoners were pouring in daily in such numbers that it was impossible to find accommodations for them. He had already taken possession of every available building, and still there was need of more room.
Mr. Walker hoped the application would not be granted, but, as more expressive of his reasons than anything he could say, he would read a paper which he held in his hand. Mr. Walker then read the following remonstrance:
"To the Common Council of the City of Richmond:
"Understanding that an application will be made to your body this afternoon for the use of the new city Alms House as a prison for Yankee soldiers, we would respectfully state that the present accommodations for the poor of this city are so limited in extent, and so uncomfortable in their character, as to render it next to impossible that the inmates can be properly cared for during the coming winter should it prove to be a severe one. We, therefore, earnestly request that if the building is to be diverted from its present use, viz: that of a hospital for our sick and wounded soldiers, it may at once be appropriated to the purposes for which it was erected, and not given up to be used as a prison for Yankees, or, as has been suggested to us, a place for deposit for the inmates of Castle Thunder.
"WILLAIM F. TAYLOR,
"WALTER D. BLAIR,
"Overseers of the Poor of the city of Richmond.
"October 2d, 1863."
Mr. N. B. Hill was in favour of letting General Winder have the building. If it was handed over to the Overseers of the Poor they could not furnish it, and it would do the paupers no good.
Mr. Griffin was inexorably opposed to granting the application. The condition of the paupers should be one of the first cares of the city. The paupers, many of whom were in feeble health, were now stored in a number of miserable shanties, and when winter shall come on their condition will be most deplorable.
Mr. Hill said there were considerably less than an hundred paupers now at the poor house.
Mr. Scott took the same view with Mr. Griffin. The accommodation of the paupers was abominable; and if there were only a hundred paupers there now he feared their number would be very much increases before the end of the winter. He was glad to see that many Yankee prisoners were being taken, but thought it the Council's duty first to see the comfort of the poor, who had no one else to look after their comfort. If the Surgeon General did not want the building the Council should put the poor into it.
Mr. Hill again spoke in favor of giving the building to the Yankee prisoners. There was no other house to be had, and it would never do to put the Yankees over on that unpleasant place, Belle Isle. But for this application of General Winder, he doubted whether the Council would have heard anything from the Overseers of the Poor. Mr. Hill then submitted a resolution to turn the Alms House over to General Winder for a prison.
Mr. Burr stated that the Council consented to let the Surgeon-General have the building only because of the benefits likely to accrue to our wounded from its peculiarly salubrious location; but if the Surgeon-General wanted it no longer, he was clear for the Council resuming possession of it for the poor of the city. He desired to aid the Confederate authorities in taking care of the Yankees, and to that end was willing the Yankees should have the houses at present occupied by the paupers.
General Winder said he would shortly have fourteen thousand prisoners to take care of in Richmond, and how he was to do it he was at a loss to know. He did not want this building for the comfort of the Yankees, but for their safe keeping. He did not propose to put the Yankees into the building, but to remove the inmates of Castle Thunder up there and put the Yankees into Castle Thunder.
Mr. Hill again spoke. He was not in favour of making the poor so very comfortable. He desired to feed and take care of them, but did not approve of putting them into a palace. Besides, if General Winder did not occupy this building the Overseers of the Poor would not. All the buildings in the lower part of the city were occupied, and there was no other building which could be obtained.
The question being put, the resolution was rejected, Mr. Hill alone voting in favour of it.
[later in the same column]
RENT OF THE ALMS HOUSE.
Mr. Crutchfield offered a resolution instructing the City Engineer to inform the Surgeon-General that the yearly rent of the Alms House will be twelve, instead of seven, thousand dollars.
This gave rise to argument, of course, in which nearly all the members participated.
Finally, a substitute was adopted, instructing the committee on Alms House to endeavor to get said house from the Surgeon-General at once for the use of the poor of the city.