O.R.--SERIES I--VOLUME XLII/3 [S# 89]
UNION CORRESPONDENCE, ORDERS, AND RETURNS RELATING TO OPERATIONS IN SOUTHEASTERN VIRGINIA AND NORTH CAROLINA, FROM OCTOBER 1, 1864, TO DECEMBER 31, 1864.(*)--# 25
OFFICE OF THE PROVOST-MARSHAL-GENERAL,
ARMIES OPERATING AGAINST RICHMOND, VA.,
City Point, November 12, 1864.
Brevet Major-General TERRY,
Commanding Army of the James:
GENERAL: I. M. Hatch, one of the men employed in this department, who was sent into the enemy's lines on the 18th of September last, in the guise of a deserter from our army, for the purpose of ascertaining what disposition was made of such persons, returned to these headquarters yesterday, and makes the following statement in regard to his journey: After entering the enemy's lines he was taken to Petersburg, thence to Richmond, where he was placed in Castle Thunder. He was not subjected to a very rigid examination, but was merely asked in what command he belonged, a few questions regarding the general location of our troops, &c. He was kept in Castle Thunder three weeks, waiting for a sufficient number of deserters to be collected to make it an object to send them away. On the day of his arrival in Richmond 105 deserters from our army were sent off. Nine came in on the day of his arrival, seven of whom were sailors from the Commodore Morris. He also learned that 500 deserters had been run through the blockade and shipped to some foreign port, nearly all of them being foreigners by birth. While there, he also saw a number of our negro soldiers confined in Castle Thunder, who were compelled to do all sorts of menial duty about the streets of Richmond, work on the fortifications, &c. At the expiration of three weeks a party of 137 had been collected, and on the 10th of October they were sent to Lynchburg and thence to Abingdon, Southwest Virginia. From there they were marched, under guard, to the Cumberland Mountains, on the border of Kentucky, where they were liberated and divided into small parties, each one taking its own course. At Pound Gap, in the Cumberland Mountains, the party was joined by twenty other deserters from General Sherman's army, and at this point thirty of them joined the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Prentice, of the Confederate Army, who had a body of partisan rangers in that vicinity. The principal incentive these men seemed to have in joining Colonel Prentice's command was for the purpose of getting <ar89_609> mounted, stealing their horses, and deserting again from him. From Pound Gap, Hatch's party marched to Louisa, on the Big Sandy River (without guard), where they came within our picket-line. About twenty of them were there detected as being deserters from our army, while endeavoring to pass themselves off as rebel deserters. From this point the party took transports and went down the Big Sandy and Ohio Rivers to Cincinnati, thence by rail to Lexington, where Mr. Hatch reported to General Burbridge, and was forwarded by him to this place. Hatch's party was the third sent by this route. After being liberated by the rebel guard a great majority of them made their way through into the Northern States; but some, with a view of getting transportation North, represented themselves to be rebel deserters. Most of those resorting to this deception are detected; a large majority of the other class make their escape.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,