previous next

[188] in its service. The whole subject was referred by the Secretary of War to the Lieutenant-General Commanding, who telegraphed me on the 14th of April, 1864, in substance: “Break off all negotiations on the subject of exchange till further orders.” And, therefore, all negotiations were broken off, save that a special exchange of sick and wounded on either side went on. On the 20th of April, I received another telegram of General Grant, ordering “not another man to be given to the Rebels.” To that I answered, on the same day: “Lieutenant-General Grant's instructions shall be implicitly obeyed. I assume that you do not mean to stop the special exchange of the sick and wounded now going on.” To this I received a reply in substance: “Do not give the Rebels a single able-bodied man.” From that hour, so long as I remained in the department, exchanges of prisoners stopped under that order, because I could not give the Rebels any of their able-bodied soldiers in exchange. By sending the sick and wounded forward, however, some twelve thousand of our suffering soldiers were relieved, being upward of eight thousand more than we gave the Rebels. In August last, Mr. Ould, finding negotiations were broken off and that no exchanges were made, wrote to General Hitchcock, the Commissioner at Washington, that the Rebels were ready to exchange, man for man, all the prisoners held by them, as I had proposed in December. Under the instructions of the Lieutenant-General, I wrote to Mr. Ould a letter, which has been published, saying: “Do you mean to give up all your action, and revoke all your laws about black men employed as soldiers?” These questions were therein argued justly, as I think, not diplomatically, but obtrusively and demonstratively, not for the purpose of furthering exchange of prisoners, but for the purpose of preventing and stopping the exchange and furnishing a ground on which we could fairly stand. I am now at liberty to state these facts, because they appear in the correspondence on the subject of exchange now on the public files of Congress, furnished by the War Department upon resolution. I am not at liberty to state my opinions as to the correctness and propriety of this course of action of the Lieutenant-General in relation to exchanges, because it is not proper to utter a word of condemnation of any act of my superiors; I may not even applaud where I think them right, lest, not applauding in other instances, such acts as I may mention would imply censure. I only desire that the responsibility of stopping exchanges of prisoners, be it wise or unwise, should rest upon the Lieutenant-General Commanding, and not upon me. I have carried the weight of so grave a matter for nine months, and now propose, as the facts are laid before Congress and the country, not to carry any longer any more of it than belongs to me. Since I wrote my farewell address to the Army of the James, I have received letters from the far West, saying “Why do you claim that you have not uselessly sacrificed the lives of your men, when you have left thousands of our brethren and sons to starve and rot in Southern prisons?” In answer to all such appeals I am allowed only to repeat, I have not uselessly sacrificed the lives of the soldiers of the Union;

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Ould (2)
U. S. Grant (2)
Hitchcock (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
April 14th, 1864 AD (1)
December (1)
August (1)
April 20th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: