Northern and Southern people was more effective than recrimination about the cartel, and the alleged cruelty to prisoners of war on both sides.
The exposition we propose to make is mainly by a chain of records, extending through the war, thus best securing authenticity of statement, and combining these documents in a unity of narrative, so as to place before the reader a complete view and a severe analysis of the whole subject.
In the first periods of the war, and with the prospect of its early termination, but little account was taken of prisoners captured on either side.
Indeed, some time elapsed at Washington
before any lists were kept of these captures; and after the first remarkable battle of the war, that of Manassas
, in 1861, it was actually proposed (by Mr. Boyce
of South Carolina
), in the Provisional Congress at Richmond
, to send back the Federal
prisoners taken on that field without any formality whatever.
The Fort Donelson
capture, however, appeared to have developed for the first time the value and interest of the exchange question, and was the occasion of remarkable perfidy on the part of the Washington
Just previous to these important captures, Gen. Wool
, on the Federal
side, had declared, in a letter dated the 13th February, 1862: “I am alone clothed with full power
, for the purpose of arranging for the exchange of prisoners,” and had invited a conference oil the subject.
Gen. Howell Cobb
, on the part of the Confederacy
, was appointed to negotiate with him; and the two officers decided upon a cartel by which prisoners taken on either side should be paroled within ten days after their capture, and delivered on the frontier of their own country.
The only point of tenacious difference between them was as to a provision requiring each party to pay the expense of transporting their prisoners to the frontier; and this point Gen. Wool
promised — to refer to the decision of his Government.
At a second interview on the 1st March, Gen. Wool
declared that his Government would not consent to pay these expenses; when Gen. Cobb
promptly gave up the point, leaving the cartel free from all of Gen. Wool
's objections, and just what he had proposed in his letter of the 13th February.
Upon this, Gen. Wool
informed Gen. Cobb
that “his Government had changed his instructions,” and abruptly broke off the negotiation.
The occasion of this bad faith and dishonour on the part of the enemy was, that in the interval they had taken several thousand prisoners at Fort Donelson
, which reversed the former state of things, and gave them a surplus of prisoners, who, instead of being returned on parole, were carried into the interiour, and incarcerated with every circumstance of indignity.
In the second year of the war a distinct understanding was obtained on the subject of the exchange of prisoners of war, and the following cartel was respectively signed and duly executed on the part of the two Governments.
This important instrument of war invites a close examination of the reader, and is copied in full: