JUNE 6, 1864.

General BRAXTON BRAGG, Richmond:

Inspection report for the week ending May 31.

The post of Richmond (General Winder's old command), Maj. I. H. Carrington commanding, embraces, first, provost-marshal's department, consisting of a passport office and a police organization; second, Federal prisons; third, prisons for Confederate offenders and deserters from the enemy; fourth, forwarding barracks for soldiers en route through Richmond; fifth, staff department.(*)

The Federal prisons.--Major Turner, commanding, assisted by three lieutenants, are in the lower part of the city. Employés--two clerks, one a soldier, the other a conscript, both able bodied, detailed for special fitness and long familiarity with the business by the Secretary of War; three policemen, disabled soldiers; one warden, a conscript detailed by Secretary of War; one commissary-sergeant; two soldiers detailed by the Secretary of War and one Yankee deserter, cooks. There were 2,239 prisoners on the day of the inspection.

The wards, with the exception of those of one building, were clean and free from vermin. Major Turner gave as an excuse for the condition of the dirty building that no brooms could be procured by requisition on the post quartermaster, Major Parkhill. This officer explained to me that he was not allowed to purchase, and that the department quartermaster charged with furnishing such supplies had none in store. The rooms assigned to officers were particularly clean and airy; a few officers are confined in cells as hostages. They are allowed to take exercise a few hours each day in a large basement, and the cells are cleaned and aired. These cells are well ventilated, and confinement in them does not differ much, except in being solitary, from confinement in other parts of the prison.

The rations for several days had been one-third of a pound of bacon, one pound of corn bread, and one-tenth of a pound of rice. For twenty days in May the prisoners were without meat, but this was during the time that our communications southward were interrupted. Two pounds of bread and as much peas as they could eat were then issued. <ar120_206> The food is well cooked, and is served at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., thus: The prisoners are divided into messes of fifty and each placed under the charge of one of their own sergeants. At the proper hours these squads are marched successively under a guard to the kitchen, receive their food in buckets, and take it back to the wards for distribution.

When the prisoners arrive their names are registered and their money taken from them and deposited with a quartermaster, to be returned upon their release. This is done by the warden generally; it is stated in the presence of a commissioned officer, but I infer that the officer is merely present without personally scrutinizing the performance of the duty. I am informed by the quartermaster in charge of such funds that applications have sometimes been made by prisoners for money alleged to have been delivered up, but which he had never received. I hear from Major Parkhill, post quartermaster, that a Frenchman of some respectability, who was released by General Winder, complained that he had given up $150 in U.S. Treasury notes and only received back $50. Charges of this character may be false; they come generally from a mendacious people, but a matter in which the good faith of the Government is involved should not be left' entirely under the control of a subordinate employé. A commissioned officer of character should not only be present when the prisoners are deprived of their money, but he should closely supervise the business in each case.

There is a hospital attached to these prisons, in which two surgeons, three assistant surgeons, four contract physicians, three hospital stewards, and ten disabled soldiers (nurses) are on duty. A number of prisoners are also employed as nurses. There were 620 patients (mostly wounded), apparently as well served as our sick. The cooking is done by captured negroes.

In the last seventeen months 50,418 prisoners have been received here; 9,904 have been treated in hospital; 2,885 have died of those treated in hospital; 1,870 were wounded men; of the deaths 148 were from wounds.

General Winder, I believe, had a general supervision over all the military prisons of the country; this is not exercised by Major Carrington. I am informed by Major Turner that nobody knows now exactly how many prisoners of war we have in confinement in the different prisons, and that no officer is charged with the management of the whole. It would seem to be important to give to some officer the exclusive control of all the prisoners of war in the Confederacy.

Eastern District military prison.--For Confederate offenders and Yankee deserters, commonly known as Castle Thunder; Captain Richardson, commanding, assisted by three lieutenants, detailed upon surgeon's certificate of disability. Captain R. is applying to be retired.

Employés: Six detectives, of whom two are citizens over conscript age; four are conscripts detailed by the Secretary of War; their duty is to carry prisoners about, watch what is going on in the prison, prevent the smuggling in or out of prohibited articles, make arrests; three clerks, of whom one is a citizen over forty-five, two are conscripts detailed by the Secretary of War; three wardens, one a Marylander, one a detailed soldier, one a citizen over conscript age.

This prison receives deserters from the enemy, deserters from our Army, disloyal citizens, soldiers under sentence, negroes captured. There were 700 prisoners on the day of inspection.

The following books are kept: (1) Register of negroes, (2) hospital books, (3) court-martial books (giving sentences, &c.), (4) morning <ar120_207> report of commitments, (5) index of commitments, (6) register of Yankee deserters, (7) register of other prisoners.

The wards were as clean as could be expected and apparently free from vermin.

Rations for several days past: One pound corn bread, one-quarter pound of bacon, and half a pint of rice. Meat was only issued five or six days in May. When there was no meat the prisoners got one and three-quarter pounds of bread. The cooking is done by captured negroes, and the arrangements for it appear good.

A hospital, under one surgeon and three assistants, is attached, containing 108 patients. There are fourteen patients from this prison in a smallpox hospital. Guard duty is performed by militia. There are twenty-six sentry posts.

* * * * * * * * * *

Respectfully submitted.

Lieut. Col. and Assistant Adjutant-General, on Inspection Duty.


Go to top