, whom our Government might justifiably employ as soldiers.
But the resolve nevertheless stood for years, if not to the last, unrepealed and unmodified, and was the primary, fundamental impediment whereby the exchange of prisoners between the belligerents was first interrupted; so that tens of thousands languished for weary months in prison-camps, where many thousands died of exposure and starvation, who might else have been living to this day.
, having learned that three of our Black soldiers captured with the gunboat Isaac Smith
, in Stono river
, had been placed in close confinement, ordered three of our prisoners (South Carolinians) to be treated likewise, and the fact to be communicated to time Confederate leaders.
The Richmond Examiner
, commenting on this relation, said:
It is not merely the pretension of a regular Government affecting to deal with “Rebels,” but it is a deadly stab which they are aiming at our institutions themselves — because they know that, if we were insane enough to yield this point, to treat Black men as the equals of White, and insurgent slaves as equivalent to our brave soldiers, the very foundation of Slavery would be fatally wounded.
After one of the conflicts before Charleston
, an immediate exchange of prisoners was agreed on ; but, when ours came to be received, only the Whites made their appearance.
A remonstrance against this breach of faith was met by a plea of want of power to surrender Blacks taken in arms, because of the resolve just quoted and orders based thereon; and this was probably the immediate impulse to the issue of the following General Order
It must not be presumed that, because either belligerent had decided to make all possible use of Blacks in the prosecution of the War
, the opposition to this policy in Congress or in the Democratic
journals and popular harangues was foregone.