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[322] large supply on hand. These officers were given such a parole as would enable them to discharge the duty with efficiency, with full liberty to report their proceedings to their own government. While this state of affairs was in existence, it was ascertained that false and unjust accusations against the Confederate authorities were industriously circulated at the North in respect to the distribution of these supplies. This at length became such a grievance, that on November 18th, 1863, I addressed the following letter to Brigadier-General S. A. Meredith, then Federal Agent of Exchange, in answer to a letter of General Hitch-cock, forwarded to me:

Confederate States of America, war Department, Richmond, Va., Nov. 18th 1863.
Brigadier-General S. A. Meredith, Agent of Exchange:
Sir,--The letter of General Hitchcock has been received. Until the Confederate authorities appeal to be relieved “from the obligation to treat prisoners of war according to the laws of civilized warfare,” or offer as “an explanation or excuse” for insufficient food that supplies have not been forwarded by your government, it is entirely unnecessary to discuss what will be the views of your authorities in either contingency.

Statements most infamously false have recently been made and circulated at the North by persons whose calling should have imposed a respect for truth, which their own personal honor seems to have failed to secure. Our regulations require that prisoners shall receive the same rations as soldiers in the field. Such your prisoners have received, and will continue to receive. Do you ask more? If so, what do you demand? We recognize in the fullest form our obligation to treat your prisoners with humanity, and to serve them with the same food, in quantity and quality, as is given to our own soldiers. If the supply is scanty, you have only to blame the system of warfare you have waged against us. There is nothing in the action of the Confederate Government which gives any sort of countenance to the charge of cruelty or inhumanity to your prisoners. In the first place, we have importuned you to agree to a fair and honest proposition which would secure the release of all of them. When that was rejected, you have been permitted to send, without stint or limitation, all kinds of supplies to them. General Hitchcock requests that the prisoners


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