You have several times proposed to me to exchange the prisoners respectively held by the two belligerents, officer for officer, and man for man. The same offer has also been made by other officials having charge of matters connected with the exchange of prisoners. This proposal has heretofore been declined by the Confederate authorities, they insisting upon the terms of the cartel, which required the delivery of the excess on either side on parole. In view, however, of the very large number of prisoners now held by each party, and the suffering consequent upon their continued confinement, I now consent to the above proposal, and agree to deliver to you the prisoners held in captivity by the Confederate authorities, provided you agree to deliver an equal number of Confederate officers and men. As equal numbers are delivered from time to time, they will be declared exchanged. This proposal is made with the understanding that the officers and men on both sides who have been longest in captivity will be first delivered, where it is practicable. I shall be happy to hear from you as speedily as possible, whether this arrangement can be carried out.The delivery of this letter was accompanied with a statement of the mortality which was hurrying so many Federal prisoners at Andersonville to the grave. On the 22d of August following, not having heard anything in response, I addressed a communication to General Hitchcock, United States Commissioner of Exchange, covering a copy of the foregoing letter to General Mulford, and requesting an acceptance of my proposal. No answer was received to either of these letters, nor were they ever noticed, except that General Mulford, on the 31st of August of the same year, informed me in writing that he had no communication on the subject from the United States authorities, and that he was not authorized to make any answer. General Butler, in his speech at Hamilton, Ohio, after the close of the war, as it is reported in the newspapers, in referring to this offer of mine to exchange officer for officer, and man for man, thus leaving a large excess in Federal hands, said: “I wrote an argument, offensively put, to the Confederate Commissioner, so that he could stop all further offers of the exchange. I say nothing about the policy of this course; I offer no criticism of it whatever; I only say that whether it be a good or a bad policy, it was not mine, and that ”
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