It will be observed that the matter of the dates of the respective general orders was very material, because General Orders No. 49
and No. 100 declared that if a parole was not approved, the party giving it was bound to return and surrender himself as a prisoner of war. General Order No. 49
contained also this language, to wit: “His own government cannot at the same time disown his own engagement, and refuse his return as a prisoner.”
I then thought and still think these were honest words.
The date of General Order No. 49
was February 28th, 1863, that of General Order No. 100
was April 24th, 1863, and that of General Order No. 207
was July 3d, 1863.
It thus appears that the Confederate Government was willing to recede from former practice, and only insisted that the matter of paroles on both sides should be determined by the United States general order
in force when the paroles were given.
Was not this fair?
Ought it not to have been acceptable to the United States
Yet they did not consent.
It may be asked why?
It was because, according to the express provision of General Orders Nos. 49 and 100, it became the duty of the parties who had been paroled while these orders were in force, to return into captivity if their government disapproved of their paroles.
To avoid that result, the Federal
agent insisted that General Order
207, dated July 3d, 1863, should be deemed to be retroactive, and control paroles which were given before it was in existence.
The Confederates had captured and paroled a large number of prisoners in the months of March, April, May and June, and, by virtue of general orders in force at those dates, if the paroles were not recognized, it became the duty of the paroled parties to return into captivity.
I knew very well that there would be no such return, and that the Federal Government
would recognize the validity of their paroles, rather than send its officers and men back into captivity.
To escape the dilemma of recognizing the paroles, or sending the officers and men back into captivity, neither of which the Federal
authorities intended to do, they were forced into the absurd position that General Order No. 207
, which recognized neither paroles or a return into captivity, should be deemed to be in force before it had any existence.
As an illustration in this connection of what strange things are done in time of war, I refer to a Court of Inquiry, the official proceedings of which are found in the Army and Navy official Gazette
, under date of July 14th, 1863.
The court was convened on June 30th, 1863, to determine whether Major Duane
and Captain Michler
, who had been captured and paroled on the 28th of June, 1863, by General Stuart
, should be placed on duty without exchange, or be