Today in History:

80 Series II Volume I- Serial 114 - Prisoners of War


At first the soldiers were quartered in the town and near the quarters of their officers. Whereupon complaints arose amongst the rebel officers and their partisans that our officers prevented by various influences the soldiers from deserting our flag and enlisting in the traitor cause. And I know that these charges were true. The result was that afer much censure and even threats toward our officers the soldiers were removed into a camp on the Salado, some seven miles distant. For awhile their officers were permitted occasionally to visit them. I cannot now say whether they were allowed to see them apart from their guards; I think not. But I do know that they had communication from that camp with the officers, for I myself have borne messages from the men in the country to the officers which showed the utmost confidence between them, as the first news of the desertion of the four sergeants. At this camp, as in town, every kind of exertion was used to get these men to enlist, and with little effect; and the opinion and complaint were still general that the vicinage and influences of the U. S. officers alone prevented their general enlistment in the Confederate cause.

They were them removed from the Salado camp, wholly on this account, and sent some fifty miles away to Camp Verde. I have forgotten the date of this removal, although I rode several miles with the, and had a chance to talk with one of the best of men, Sergeant Brady. I think, however, it was in September. And I again say that I know that these men were greatly braced in their extraordinary firmness of faith to our cause and hated for that of disunion by the example, presence, and sharing of their fate by the officers who remain as near to them as they can. And I think that these influences are practically of great value, even at the distance of their present separation. And I furthermore believe that if these officers had come away to the States that nine-tenths of these soldiers (instead of one-tenth) would have deserted and joined the rebels.

So much for the usefulness of that action in this behalf; a word of testimony as to its merits. And here again I was an eye and ear witness. In very many conversations I had with these officers on this very subject (and they were so much my only society that I was often scolded by my Union friends and threatened by my disunion enemies for my imprudent intimacies with them) they invariably assigned these influences on their men as the chief cause of their staying in San Antonio. Sometimes (in my sympathy for their painful positions there) I argued in favor of their taking parole, admonishing them that "out of sight, out of mind", &c. But they as often silenced me by the single argument that if they did "the men would join the rebels". I say, therefore, that the conduct of these officers in refusing their paroles has been and is of great merit and usefulness.

I do not, on the other hand, desire now so much to censure those officers who came away as to say that they ought not to be exchanged. Since I have admitted that I myself occasionally advised my friends to do likewise I must admit that I think it would be hard for a mistake so natural to punish them so incommensurately. Still I do insist that my advice and their action was a mistake, and that the conduct of the other officers, instead of being "nothing", as I heard said, has been very loyal, wise, and noble. On the subject of the general merit of all the Allen' Hill prisoners and their treatment by their Government I cannot forbear to say a word. I am sure that no who was present as a witness to that whole affair (however high his standards of loyalty, bravery, or self-sacrifice may be) can believe that there was any, the