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The second estimate, used by Alexander H. Stephens, Senator Benjamin H. Hill, and President Davis, cites an alleged report of J. K. Barnes, Surgeon-General, U. S. A., which purports to give the number of Confederate prisoners as 220,000, and the number of Union prisoners in the South as 270,000. The authority quoted is an editorial in the National Intelligencer, of Washington, which seems not to have been contradicted, though General Barnes lived for many years afterward. The report, however, is not to be found in the Federal archives; it is claimed that there is no evidence that it was ever made, and further that there is no way in which Surgeon-General Barnes could have secured these figures. This, however, does not seem an impossibility, as the surgeons naturally made reports of the sick to him, and these reports always included the number in prison quarters as well as the number in hospital. Whether or not such a report was ever made, it does not now seem to be in existence.

Absolute accuracy cannot now be secured, if indeed such accuracy was ever possible. During the last six months of the war, the Federal prisoners were transferred hither and thither, sometimes stopping for a week or less in one place, in the attempts to avoid the raids of Sherman's cavalry and the constantly tightening coils which were closing around the Confederates. In these changes, as the prisoners were handed from commander to commander, were unloaded from one train into another, and transferred from one set of inefficient guards to another, hundreds escaped.

Furthermore, since a Confederate commissary-general of prisoners was not appointed until the war was almost over, many commandants of prisons in the South made reports only to the commanders of departments, who often failed to forward them to Richmond. Any statement of the number of Federal prisoners held in the South is, therefore, only an estimate. The relative mortality growing out of prison life will be discussed in another chapter.

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