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Elmira Prison Camp OnLine Library -
Government Documents: May, 1864

May 14, 1864: first mention of the site at Elmira as a possible prison camp.
May 19, 1864: requesting permission to start transferring prisoners from Point Lookout, Maryland to the new camp at Elmira, NY.
May 19, 1864: directions for building the Elmira camp.
May 23, 1864: status of the new camp at Elmira. It is noted that the Camp can hold at least 1,000 men, with guards numbering 200 from the Veterans Reserve Corp.


ADJUTANT-GENERAL'S OFFICE, Washington, May 14, 1864
Colonel Hoffman,

Commissary General of Prisoners, Washington, D.C.

SIR: I am to day informed that there are quite a number of barracks at Elmira, N.Y., which are not occupied, and are fit to hold rebel prisoners. Quite a large number of those lately captured could be accommodated at this place. I give you this information for you to make such use of it as you think proper.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Assistant Adjutant-General


WASHINGTON, D.C., May 19, 1864
Hon E.M. Stanton,

Secretary of War, Washington, D.C.

SIR: I have the honor to report that there are now about 10,000 prisoners of war at Point Lookout; where 5,000 more may be accommodated. I do not think it would be advisable to assemble a greater number at that point, and to provide for an addition to the number now in our hands, which may soon be expected I respectfully suggest that one set of the barracks at Elmira may be appropriated to this purpose. I am informed there are barracks there available which have, by crowding, received 12,000 volunteers. By fencing them in at a cost of about $2,000 they may be relied on to receive 8,000 or possibly 10,000 prisoners. They can be shipped already ordered for the purpose, to New York, and thence by railroad to Elmira, which will not make the transportation very expensive.

Fort Delaware can accommodate a few more officers, but no more enlisted men.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant.
Colonel Third Infantry and Commissary-General of Prisoners


Lieut. Col. S. Eastman,

Commanding draft rendezvous, Elmira, N.Y.:

COLONEL: You will receive instructions from the Adjutant-General to set apart the barracks on the Chemung River at Elmira as a depot for prisoners of war. The barracks will be enclosed by a suitable fence, and I would respectfully suggest that you construct it after the style found to be most secure at other depots. It should be eleven or twelve feet high, the frame being on the outside, with a walk for sentinels on the outside three or four feet below the top, thus giving them a good view of all that passes within. There should be ample room between the fence and the buildings, that prisoners may not approach it unseen. Two gates will probably be sufficient, one toward the river. The guard should be outside the enclosure. Please report on the condition of the barracks, the cost of the fence, and any other additions, which may be required, and the number of prisoners the place will accommodate. From what I have heard, I judge the number will be 8,000 or 10,000. I am unable to say how soon the barricade will be required, but possibly within ten days. I enclose a circular of regulations for the government of military prisoners.

I am, colonel, very respectively,
Colonel Third Infantry and Commissary-General of Prisoners


Col. W. Hoffman,

Commissary General of Prisoners, Washington, D.C.

COLONEL: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication dated May 19, 1864, in reference to the barracks at this post that have been set aside as a depot for prisoners of war and requesting me to report the condition of them, etc. There are two sets of barracks at this post, situated about two miles apart. They are designated as Nos. 1 and 3. the latter is on the Chemung River and is set to be used for prisoner of war. These barracks were built to comfortable accommodate 3,000 troops without crowding. The bunks are double. The buildings are in excellent condition and well ventilated. Four thousand prisoners of war could be quartered in them, and there is plenty of ground room in which tents could be pitched to accommodate 1,000 more. The mess-room is sufficiently large to seat 1,200 or 1,500, and the kitchen can cook daily for 5,000. There is an excellent bakery that can bake daily 6,000 rations. There is no hospital at these barricade, hence hospital tents will have to be used for the sick. A new hospital for 200 patients is being erected about one mile from the barracks. The guard house is a building 75 by 45 feet, now used to hold deserters, and will have to be used for that purpose until another can be built by Barracks No. 1. The number of troops now here is entirely inadequate to guard a large number of prisoners, being only three companies of the Veteran Reserve Corps, numbering about 200 men. A fence twelve feet high was commended today, and will probably be completed in ten days, surrounding the barracks. I respectfully request that six copies of circular of regulations for the government of military prisoners be forwarded to me, also such blanks as may be required to make returns. I would recommend that no prisoners be sent here until I report that the barracks are ready to receive them.

I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant.
Lieutenant-Colonel, U.S. Army, Commanding Depot