OR, Ser. II, Vol. VI, pp. 241-242

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LIBBY PRISON, Richmond, August 30, 1863.

Brig. Gen. S. A. MEREDITH, U.S. Army,
Commissioner for Exchange of Prisoners:

SIR: I have the honor to call your attention to the inclosed copy of a communication to the Hon. James A. Seddon. I, as well as others of my fellow-prisoners, have repeatedly appealed for relief to the subordinate officers having us in charge, but have as often been assured that our situation as to rations, quarters, and treatment generally was much better than their officers received at the hands of our Government. It is needless to add that our treatment as officers, prisoners of war, is entirely contrary to all civilized usages, and it is my earnest hope, and, so far as I have been able to ascertain, it is the unanimous desire of the officers here that such measures be taken by our Government as will insure proper treatment to both our officers and men while prisoners of war in the hands of the enemy, no matter who that enemy may be.

I have the honor, sir, to be, your most obedient servant,

Colonel Fifty-first Indiana Volunteers, U.S. Army.



LIBBY PRISON, Richmond, August 30, 1863.

Hon. JAMES A. SEDDON, Secretary of War:

SIR: I take the liberty of addressing you in behalf of myself and fellow-prisoners in relation to our situation. About 600 of us are confined here with an average space of nearly twenty-eight square feet each, which includes our room for cooking, eating, washing, bathing, and sleeping. Our rations consist, as nearly as I can judge as to quantity, of about one-fourth pound of poor fresh beef, one-half pound of bread, and one.half gill of rice or beans for each man per day. The above amount has been found insufficient both as to quantity and quality to«16 R R--SERIES II, VOL VI» <ar119_242> sustain life and health in our close prison confinement. Scorbutic diseases have already appeared, proving fatal in one case--Major Morris--and impairing seriously, if not permanently, the health of others.

Our sanitary condition would have been much worse than it now is but for the large purchases of vegetables and other provisions, amounting to nearly $1,000 per day, which we have been allowed to make but as nearly all our money was taken from us when we entered the prison the daily expenditure of this large sum has at length about exhausted what was left us. We have also been notified that we will not be allowed to receive any portion of the money taken from us here, nor even such sums as have been sent us from home since our imprisonment, though before writing for these moneys we were expressly assured by your officers having us in charge that we would be allowed to receive them. It will be perceived from the above statement that our immediate prospective condition is, to say the least, that of semi-starvation. The rations furnished by your Government may be as good and as much as it can afford under the circumstances, but in that case it does seem that we should be allowed to purchase the necessary amount to sustain us. It cannot possibly be that it is intended to reduce to a famishing condition 600 prisoners of war. Humanity cannot contemplate such a thing without feelings of the deepest horror, saying nothing of our rights as prisoners of war. Even criminals guilty of the blackest crimes are not, among civilized people, confined for any length of time on insufficient food.

I wish further to state to you that previous to my surrender I made a stipulation with General Forrest, to whom I surrendered, that all private property, including money belonging to my officers and men, should be respected. This stipulation, in the handwriting of General Forrest over his own signature, is now in the hands of General Winder, having been taken from me here. Notwithstanding this, my officers, ninety-five in number, have been notified with the balance that their money has been turned over to the Confederate authorities.

For the purpose of avoiding further loss of money or misunderstanding and, if possible, to obtain relief from the unhappy situation in which we are placed, you are most respectfully asked to state, in your answer to this communication, the manner in which we will be allowed to obtain necessary food and clothing to render us comfortable.

I have furnished Hon. Robert Ould, Confederate commissioner for exchange of prisoners, a copy of this communication, and will also send a copy, if permitted to do so, to General Meredith, the U.S. commissioner for exchange of prisoners, in order that the whole subject may come up for discussion at the next meeting of said commissioners.

I have the honor, sir, to be, your most obedient servant,

Colonel Fifty-First Indiana Volunteers, U.S. Army.





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