previous next
[44] other grounds. I soon found that we could not agree upon the topic; and, therefore, I sought to flank the difficulty. I suggested that it was very unwise for us to reject the paper about which we had agreed in every other respect, because we disagreed about one item — that the new cartel might be silent as to recaptured slaves, leaving to the United States the right to resort to such measures of retaliation, if they were not released, as was practiced in the case of white soldiers, when they were improperly detained. I urged that a difficulty about the release of slaves, who did not form one-fiftieth part of the prisoners, should not prevent the exchange of others — that when Streight's men were detained on our side, or Morgan's men on his, exchanges were not stopped thereby, and that it was hardly fair to have one rule for the white man and a better one for the black. At length, General Butler assented to this view, and so we constructed a new cartel, which settled the old points of dispute, but was silent as to such soldiers as were slaves at the outbreak of the war. The position which I had all along maintained in relation to paroles was unhesitatingly accepted by General Butler.

When the paper was prepared, I suggested that it be signed by us, signifying that I was authorized to do so on the part of the Confederate Government. But General Butler said he was not authorized to do so, and would be compelled to send it to the War Department, at Washington, for approval, which he hoped and believed it would receive. When I expressed my readiness to sign the paper, he pleasantly observed that the Confederate authorities had always shown their good sense in leaving measures to the judgment of those who knew most about them; but that though he was the commander of a department, he had not the power to bind the United States to the instrument, strange as that might appear. I have reason to believe that General Butler urged the adoption of the new cartel with good faith and zeal. It was transmitted by the War Department to General Grant, then in front of Petersburg, for his approval or rejection. It is well known to the country what his action was. General Butler, in his report to the Committee on the Conduct of the War, states that General Grant communicated his rejection to him, giving in substance as his reason that Sherman would be overwhelmed and his own position on the James endangered. Over one hundred thousand officers and men were, at or about that time, in confinement on both sides, the United States holding quite a large majority.

When this effort to renew exchanges failed, so anxious were the Confederate authorities to have some plan of relief adopted, that

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
United States (United States) (3)
Washington, Ga. (Georgia, United States) (1)
Petersburg, Va. (Virginia, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
B. F. Butler (5)
Grant Ulysses Grant (2)
A. D. Streight (1)
Billy Sherman (1)
John H. Morgan (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: