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[496]

Nevertheless, the government of the United States, forgetful of the conduct of Great Britain toward her revolted colonies, apparently refused all consideration of the question of exchange of prisoners, as if impressed with the idea that it would derogate from the dignity of its position to accept any interchange of courtesy. An exchange was therefore occasionally made by the various commanders of troops under flags of truce, while the Federal government made the paltry pretense of not knowing it. We released numbers at different points on parole, and the matter was comprised in various ways. Fifty-seven wounded soldiers were unconditionally released at Richmond and sent home. In response, twenty of our soldiers, mostly North Carolinians, were released from Bedloe's Island, New York, and sent to Fortress Monroe, to be discharged on condition of taking the oath, so called, of loyalty to the United States government. Thirty-seven confined in the military prison at Washington were released on taking the oath. On September 3d an exchange was made between General Pillow and Colonel Wallace, of the United States Army. Whereupon General Polk proposed an exchange to General Grant, who replied on October 14th:

I can, of my own accordance, make none. I recognize no Southern Confederacy myself, but will communicate with higher authorities for their views.

An exchange was made on October 23d between General McClernand and General Polk. Subsequently, on November 8th, General Grant offered to surrender to General Polk certain wounded men and invalids unconditionally. To this proposition General Polk replied:

My own feelings would prompt me to waive again the unimportant affectation of declining to recognize these States as belligerents in the interest of humanity; but my Government requires all prisoners to be placed at the disposal of the Secretary of War.

On November 1st General Fremont made an agreement with General Price, in Missouri, by which certain persons named were authorized to negotiate for the exchange of any persons who might be taken prisoners of war, upon a plan previously arranged. General Hunter, who succeeded General Fremont, on November 7th repudiated this agreement. A proposition made in the Confederate Congress to return the prisoners captured by us at first Manassas, without any formality whatever, would doubtless have prevailed but for the difficulty in reference to the crew of the Savannah.

But this determination of the United States government, not to meet us on the equal footing consistent with the modern usages of war and exchange prisoners, thus far prevented any general arrangement for

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