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Home > Civil War Sesquicentennial > J. W. Hathaway Transcript

J. W. Hathaway Transcript

Maine Agency, 273 F Street
Washington, 1862

Governor Washburn –
Dear Sir –

Your note in regard to the young man now confined in the Old Capitol Prison is duly received and I have written to Colonel Varney to ascertain if his story is true in regard to his having been ordered out of action by the surgeon -  I shall also call at the prison tomorrow -  Enclosed I send a list of our men in convalescent camps at Alexandria – You will find many others, quite a number belonging to the 7th which has since gone to Fort Preble –among them are 37 recruits  -  Now whether the gov’t will incur the expense of sending them home to join their reg’t or employ them on detached duty for the present, I know not – they certainly ought not to remain there, for it is a beastly place and the soldiers have very appropriately denominated it “Camp Misery” – I was there on Sunday last and found things in a wretched state – most of the men were without blankets lying on the bare ground – four or five in a little shed tent – and the entire camp as filthy as possible – and that was the place to which convalescents were sent to fully recover  -  Of course many have become sick and the others do not gain - -

There were in the portion of the camp devoted to convalescents 10,985, and in the camp for paroled prisoners, 38,000 – The existence of the camp in its present condition is a disgrace to the Government.

The Medical Inspector General informs me that he has reported its condition to the proper authorities - but it does no good - -

In regard to the matter of transportation – Mr. Hamlin was here yesterday and obtained for me an audience with the Secretary of War – I broached the subject of transportation – where he immediately said that he could not grant it – that he assumed all State associations would pay their transportation, and should he learn of an officer granting use of Government horses to any State Association or to the Sanitary Commission, he would dismiss him from the service – You may rest assured Sir however that I shall be as economical in this matter as is consistent with efficiency –

There is another matter as to which I need direction – should the demands upon my time increase as they appear likely to, I must have some one to remain in the office – even now when it is known to but comparatively few that I am here – my office hours are continually broken in upon by calls for assistance – and I must leave the office empty and go to some hospital or department – some days – visiting Alexandria Hospital for instance, I must be nearly absent all day – and I find that nearly always that some one has been inquiring for me – there will be also considerable writing to do, and although I am willing and anxious to work continually, still I cannot multiply myself and be in two places at once -  This however I speak of as something that may be needed -  at present I get along very well – and perhaps if I should find a clerk necessary  I could find one who would work for his expenses -  I could easily find work for him when I was in the office, or visiting hospitals – I have more demands on me now for that purpose than I can supply –

I have no doubt of your being perfectly satisfied with any action I might take in the premises – still I should like your views.  It is of course necessary that I should have some discretionary power, in event of increased necessities and I sincerely trust that you have confidence in my using it properly and with judgment – God knows that there is need of economy evident the stupidity and extravagance which characterizes the conduct of our affairs.

A word or two more & I will close this tedious note.  I will try and not bore you with so long a one again.  I was visited last night by a resident of this City – not a Maine man – who said that 21 of the 1st Maine Cavalry were in a sort of barrack hospital near his house in a bounding street near 7th and that they were some of them sick and none really well – that they were under the care of their own surgeon Dr. Haley, that they had been without rations two or three days and had been obliged to buy food of his family – I went out this morning and found that they had drawn rations yesterday – nine were about to return to their reg’t – the rest were unable to go – a few quite sick – the men confirmed the statement of the gentleman – the Dr. was not there – they had been sleeping in an unfurnished barrack until last night when they were moved. (The men say the Dr. does not remain much with them)

Respectfully, your ob’t  serv’t,
J. W. Hathaway.