In that month, however, I was notified that a new rule had been adopted by the Federal
authorities, contained in their General Orders Nos. 59 and 100 of the year 1863, which provided that no paroles, unaccompanied by continued possession and actual delivery at the points designated in the cartel, would be recognized.
An exception was made where paroles were taken in pursuance of an agreement between the commanders of two opposing armies.
But while these general orders invalidated all paroles not coming within the description, they distinctly declared that if a parole should be given under different circumstances, and the United States
did not approve of the same, “the paroled officer must return into captivity.”
On the 7th of July, 1863, I was notified of another General Order
, No. 207, dated July 3, 1863, declaring that “all captures must be reduced to actual possession, and all prisoners of war must be delivered at the place designated, there to be exchanged or paroled until exchange can be effected.”
This general order
, however, did not contain the provision of the others, that the paroled officer, if he gave an unauthorized parole, should return into captivity.
All three of these general orders, however, purported to be declarations of the laws of war, inconsistent as they were with each other.
The civilians of the War Department seem to have been under the belief that they could make and unmake the laws of war to suit emergencies.
The application of these general orders to the facts connected with exchanges produced the first serious difficulty.
It may be that the position taken by the United States
authorities in these general orders was strongly supported by the language of the cartel, which required “all prisoners of war to be discharged on parole in ten days after their capture, and the prisoners now held, and those hereafter taken, to be transported to the points mutually agreed upon, at the expense of the capturing party.”
But the practice of both sides, from the beginning of the war up to May, 1863, had been otherwise.
Each had claimed paroles which had been given where the persons captured had been set at liberty at once.
Each had recognized the validity of such paroles held by the adverse party.
Moreover, it was contended by me that the cartel did not touch in any way the question of the validity of paroles; that it was designed to: apply, so far as delivery was concerned, only to such prisoners as were in captivity, or “held” by either party, to such as were in military depots and prisons, to such as had been removed from the battle-field or place of capture, and reduced into actual possessionthat