Libby Prison Hospital, September 11, 1864.
Dear Mother, — I write this to send by some officer who goes by this flag of truce boat. I don't know whether any of my letters have reached you or not. I have sent three or four. I was sent to Richmond from Danville, August 26, to be exchanged, and was to have been sent north by first boat. The boat came September 1. I was carried down with the other officers in the ambulance, got on board the boat, and then an order came for me to go ashore again and back to prison. Commissioner Ould said I could not go because the (rebel) General Walker, for whom I was to be exchanged, had not been sent up. So back to prison I came. It was a bitter disappointment, as you can imagine. I could not even send you messages by the officers who went, or to Major Mulford, our Agent of Exchange, to send General Walker by the next boat. I hardly dare hope I shall get off on this boat. I suppose it will depend on Walker's being sent up. I got your letter of August 3 on the 30th, the only letter I have had. I have been very sick, but am better. Arthur is up stairs; he is very well indeed. I was surprised to find him here. I hope my horses and all my things are safely at home long before this. They should have been sent at once. Dr. White promised to attend to it.
I am comparatively comfortable in this hospital. The suffering among the prisoners here and farther south is too horrible to speak of. It is a disgrace to our government that they do not make a general exchange. The rebel government is ready and willing to do it, on almost any terms. I hope I shall get away before long. I am improving in health, and so am not so anxious as I was when so low with dysentery. Give my love to all. It Is useless for me to write, except by some officer going North, or else I should often (if I could get the paper). Hoping you are all well, I remain ever,
Your affectionate son,
W. F. B.
Let Uncle Edwin and A. P. know that you have heard from me, if you get this. Let Arthur's father and mother know that he is in splendid health and spirits. I got permission for him to come down and see me the other day, when I expected to go away. Gave him a good breakfast, and all the money, etc., that I had left. I am going to have him come down again to-day.
Much love to all,
I wish you would give Mr. Cotting twenty dollars, as a present, for me. He has been very kind to me while I have been here.
W. F. B.
SOURCE: Francis Winthrop Palfrey, Memoir of William Francis Bartlett, p. 136-7