Federal authorities to deliver all prisoners of war held by them, and that if it had been done, when they had the surplus, the excess would have been put in the field by the Confederates
This is another of General Hitchcock
Nothing could be more untrue, either as to intention or fact.
There was no more reason for such a stigma than there was for a similar charge against the United States
when the excess of prisoners was held by the Confederates
Yet the fear that such a course might be pursued did not restrain the Confederate
authorities from delivering all prisoners in their hands when they held an excess; and that, too, after they were informed of General Schenck
's aforesaid general order
It was the practice of my office to make a careful computation of paroles and deliveries, and on that basis to declare exchanges.
In no one instance, from the beginning of the war to its close, was any declaration of exchange made which was not just in every particular, and fully warranted by the facts.
In no one case did I ever discharge Confederates from their parole until I had offered valid equivalents to the United States
After deliveries were broken off, I did not abandon the hope that there would be a return to the main features of the cartel.
From that time I kept the offer open that officers and men should be released, the excess on one side or the other to be on parole, and that the validity of all paroles should be determined by the general orders of the United States War Department, according to dates.
The Confederate Government stood ready and indeed anxious at all times to accept these terms.
Whenever I pressed them upon the Federal
agents, and that was very frequently, I was met with homilies on Mr. Davis
' message and my unjustifiable (so-called) declarations of exchange.
At length I was forced into the conviction that the persons who had the control of the matter did not desire exchanges or mutual deliveries of prisoners on any terms — that they believed that such deliveries were unwise in a military point of view — that they had come to the conclusion that a soldier was more valuable to the Confederacy
than he was to the United States
I do not mean by that to say that they or anybody else thought that a Confederate soldier was better or braver than a Union soldier, but simply that in the then condition of affairs the United States
could better afford the absence of a soldier from the field than the Confederacy
Perhaps, also, some of these persons thought it would not be an unwise military expedient to quarter fifty thousand men upon