From the CSR (M331-CSA Staff and General Officers) of General William M.
Gardner. Roll #102.
Head Quarters Post of Richmond
Octr 23rd 1864
Maj. Chestney A.A.G.
The 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.]