From the CSR (M331-CSA Staff and General Officers) of General William M.
Gardner. Roll #102.
Quarters Post of Richmond
Octr 23rd 1864
Maj. Chestney A.A.G.
guard furnished from 19th Va. Militia proves to be unfit for the duty
of guarding prisoners. They exhibit a want of discipline and an insubordination
which demonstrates that they cannot be safely depended on for the security of
the prisoners. The crime of desertion to the enemy and the lesser crimes of
abanment [sic] of guard posts and trafficking with prisoners have so often been
passed over by their officers without punishment that the men seem to feel that
they may violate all orders with impunity. Two men Langrith by name have been
released without punishment for the crime of a second desertion though they were
arrested in the act of attempting to get to a Gunboat of the enemy. The remedy
is not within my control. These men are liable to trial only by a court composed
of militia officers. Since the present guard has been posted at the Libby
Prison, several of them have deserted their posts in one day leaving their guns
in reach of the prisoners and endangering the security of the city.
Eighteen hundred prisoners have
been received in the last twenty four hours and an additional guard is
absolutely necessary. While I regret extremely to make any request which will
weaken your force at the front, I feel it my duty to request that the 19th
Va. Militia be placed on some other duty than that of guard in this city.
The Invalid Corps at Belle Isle
is effectually broken up by the recent order, which directs that no men to be
assigned to it but those men permanently disabled. If those now on duty at Belle
Isle be allowed to remain, an additional guard of 250 men will enable me to
guard the prisons. [rest of letter not important.]
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