And the reason assigned by General Grant for this course was that, the exchange of prisoners would so strengthen General Lee's army as to greatly prolong the war, and therefore it was better that the prisoners then in confinement should remain so, no matter what sufferings would be entailed thereby. ‘I said,’ says General Butler, ‘I doubted whether, if we stopped exchanging man for man, simply on the ground that our soldiers were more useful to us in Rebel prisons than they would be in our lines, however true that might be, or speciously stated to the country, the proposition could not be sustained against the clamor that would at once arise against the administration.’ * *. * Id., p. 594. And he adds: ‘These instructions in the then state of negotiations, rendered any further exchanges impossible and retaliation useless.’ This condition of affairs, for which, as we have seen, General Grant was solely responsible, continued, with little change, till the latter part of January, 1865. It was during this interval of nearly a year that the greatest sufferings and mortality occurred. Finally the clamor was so great for a renewal of the cartel that General Grant consented, and from that date exchanges continued to the end of the war, although when a large number of prisoners were sent to General Schofield, at Wilmington, on February 21st, 1865, he refused to receive them. Vol. VIII, p. 286. On the 10th of January, 1864, in view of the large numbers of prisoners then held on both sides, and the sufferings consequently engendered thereby, Judge Ould addressed a letter to Major (afterwards General Mulford), proposing to deliver all prisoners held by us for an equivalent held by the Federals. But to this letter no reply was ever made. On the 22nd of August he wrote making the same offer to General Hitchcock, but received no reply to this letter either. And so on the 31st of August, 1864, Judge Ould published a statement setting forth in detail the efforts made by the Confederate authorities to carry out the cartel in good faith, stating how it had been violated from time to time, and finally suspended, solely by the bad faith and bad conduct of the Federals.
To him the state of the negotiations as to exchange was communicated, and most emphatic verbal directions were received from the Lieutenant-General not to take any steps by which another able bodied man should be exchanged until further orders from him.Butler's Book, p. 592.
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