consistently with ordinary courtesy of language, for the purpose of carrying out the wishes of the Lieutenant-General that no prisoners of war should be exchanged.
This paper was published so as to bring a public pressure by the owners of slaves upon the rebel Government, in order to forbid their exchange.
The report continues:
In case the Confederate authorities took the same view as General Grant, believing that an exchange ‘would defeat Sherman and imperil the safety of the Armies of the Potomac and the James,’ and therefore should yield to the argument, and formally notify me that their former slaves captured in our uniform would be exchanged as other soldiers were, and that they were ready to return us all our prisoners at Andersonville and elsewhere in exchange for theirs, then I had determined, with the consent of the Lieutenant-General, as a last resort to prevent exchange, to demand that the outlawry against me should formally be reversed and apologized for, before I would further negotiate the exchange of prisoners.
But the argument was enough, and the Confederates never offered to me afterward to exchange the colored soldiers who had been slaves, held in prison by them.
Further on in the report General Butler
gives the history of some naval exchanges, in the course of which colored prisoners were delivered, and concludes his observations on that head as follows:
It will be observed that the rebels had exchanged all the naval colored prisoners, so that the negro question no longer impeded the exchange of prisoners; in fact, if we had demanded the exchange of all, man for man, officer for officer, they would have done it.
The conclusion of the report is as follows:
I have felt it my duty to give an account with this particular carefulness of my participation in the business of exchange of prisoners, the orders under which I acted, and the negotiations attempted, which comprises a faithful narration of all that was done, so that all may become a matter of history.
The great importance of the questions; the fearful responsibility for the many thousands of lives which, by the refusal to exchange, were sacrificed by the most cruel forms of death, from cold, starvation, and pestilence of the prison-pens of Raleigh and Andersonville, being more than all the British soldiers killed in the wars of Napoleon; the anxiety of fathers, brothers, sisters, mothers, wives, to know the exigency which cause this terrible, and perhaps, as it may have seemed to them, useless and unnecessary, destruction of those dear to them, by horrible deaths, each and all have compelled me to this exposition, so that it may be seen that those lives were spent as a part of the system of attack upon the rebellion, devised by the wisdom of the General-in-Chief of the armies, to destroy it by depletion, depending upon our superior numbers to win the victory at last.
The loyal mourners will doubtless derive solace from this fact, and appreciate all the more highly the genius which conceived the plan, and the success won at so great a cost.
Sufficient facts have been presented to satisfy every intelligent and candid mind of our entire readiness to surrender, for exchange, all the