for the exchange of a particular officer for another particularly named.
I set my face against this system from the beginning, whether the application came from one side or the other.
Fathers and mothers and sisters frequently besought me with tears to give their kindred the benefit of a special exchange; but I was obdurate to the last.
Sometimes they would appreciate my reason, and go away satisfied, but in the large majority of cases, knowing only the bitterness of their own hearts, they thought hardly of me. There were many objections to special exchanges.
The system at best, was favoritism.
It was not right or fair to pursue a policy, which would put one prisoner in a more favorable position than another of equal merit.
Moreover, it gave the opportunity to the belligerent proposing such an exchange, to select a valuable officer in the enemy's hands, and give for him one very worthless, or what was worse, one who had been tampered with.
But my chief objection was, that if all those whom the United States
particularly desired were specially exchanged, the Confederate Government would have none in captivity who could bring any pressure to bear in favor of a general exchange.
So resolute was I in this matter that, with the approval of the Confederate Government, in one case I sent back a Confederate officer who came to secure a special exchange, and in other cases I refused to send the designated Federal officers, and gave other equivalents.
The prisoners on both sides, when delivered, were always welcomed to their respective flags with almost wild delight; but otherwise it was not often that anything happened to break the common routine.
The Federal prisoners were generally put on board a steamer at Richmond
, and then carried some thirty miles down the. James river
and transferred to the flag-of-truce boat “New York.”
Once or twice they were marched a shorter distance.
They would generally meet a returning body of Confederate prisoners; and from the manner in which the two parties met and fraternized, no one would have supposed that they were enemies, or believed in the doctrine of prize cases.
Sometimes they sang, in turn, their respective camp songs, and both sides would greet any good hit with uproarious merriment.
I recollect one occasion when this amusement was kept up for hours, to the delight of all, each set of prisoners having several capital voices, with an apparently exhaustless variety of songs, in which the names of all the notables of both armies, and especially Stonewall Jackson
There was one incident in the course of deliveries which was quite dramatic, though very painful to one of the parties-a