To enumerate briefly the marked phases of the relations of the contending forces during the Civil War
in relation to the exchange of prisoners it is found—
That the Federal Government
at the very commencement of the struggle ordered the trial of rebel privateersmen for piracy, but from fear of retaliation receded from its determination to inflict capital punishment upon them.
That on July 22, 1862, a general exchange was agreed upon by properly authorized commissioners of the two contending parties, which cartel was first violated by the Confederates
, in the case of the United States troops in Texas
, for nine months.
That Jefferson Davis
and the Confederate Congress in 1862 and 1863 declared acts of outlawry against all negroes and mulattoes and their officers taken in arms, the former ‘to be put to death or otherwise punished at the discretion of the Court
;’ the latter ‘to be delivered over to the authorities of the State
in which they were captured, to be dealt with according to the present or future laws of such State.’
, on July 30, 1863, issued his proclamation declaring that for every United States
soldier without regard to color who should be put to death in violation of the laws of war a rebel soldier should be executed, and for every one enslaved a rebel soldier would be placed at hard labor on the public works.
Forced by this retaliatory measure to refrain from openly carrying out the acts of outlawry passed, the Confederate
authorities resolved that thereafter they would refrain from reporting the colored prisoners in their hands, and would refuse to exchange them.
This discrimination was not tolerated by the United States
, and in consequence the cartel was suspended for blacks and whites.
That the Confederates
, having failed to compel the exchange of white prisoners only, maintained their position until Aug. 10, 1864, when they agreed to exchange officer for officer and man for man. The terms of the cartel under which exchanges had at first been made required the delivery of the excess on either side.
Our government waived, apparently, all other questions, and in the fall of 1864 exchanges were resumed.
But we find no record of the release of our colored soldiers till months after.