ALEXANDRIA, April 3, 1868.
My Dear Captain — Yours of the 2d has been received, and in reply I beg leave to say that I have no copies of the letters and orders referred to, but I have an entry in my journal of the date of the 9th of January, 1865, whilst headquarters were at Montgomery, Alabama. The entry is substantially as follows: "In pursuance of orders, I addressed a letter to General Winder, requesting him to turn over thirty Federal prisoners to Major Hottle, quartermaster, for the purpose of taking out sub-terra shells and torpedoes from the cuts in the West Point and Atlanta railroad. Shortly afterwards I received from General Winder a reply, stating that he could not comply with the request, as it would not only violate the orders of the War Department, but would be in contravention of the laws and usages of war."
I have no objection to your using this information on such occasions and terms as you may deem proper for the vindication of your father, but I would suggest this consideration: that a public use in the present heated and embittered condition of political affairs would result in no practical use, and might possibly create unnecessary prejudice against those now living and to Southern interests.
Very truly, yours,
GEORGE W. BRENT.
NEW ORLEANS, February 15, 1876.
My Dear Sir — I regret to find from your letter of inquiry, that General Sherman seeks to extenuate one of those violations of the rules of civilized warfare, which characterized his campaign through Georgia and South Carolina, by the easily refuted slander upon the Confederate army to which you call my attention, namely: That in his employment of Confederate prisoners during that campaign to search and dig up torpedoes, he acted "only in retaliation" for the like employment of Federal prisoners by Confederate commanders — an assertion reckless even for General Sherman, whose heedlessness of what he writes and speaks was notorious before the appearance of his "Memoirs."
I myself can recall no occasion when Federal prisoners were or could have been employed, as alleged by that General, even had it been legitimate, and not a shocking inhumanity, to do so; that is to say, I do not believe General Sherman can specify, with date, any place that came into possession of the Confederates during the war, where torpedoes were planted, which they had to remove either by resort to the use of Federal prisoners or any other means. There certainly was never such a place or occasion in the departments which I commanded.I recollect distinctly, however, learning immediately after the fall of Savannah, that General Sherman himself had put Confederate prisoners to this extraordinary use in his approach to that city, as also at the capture of Fort McAlister, and I thereupon made,