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‘Treatment and exchange of prisoners,’

is really a continuation and further discussion of the contrast begun in that report and a necessary sequel to that discussion. The further treatment of this subject becomes most important too, from the fact that our people know very little about the true state of the case, whilst both during and since the war, the people of the North, with the superior means at their command, have denounced and maligned the South and its leaders as murderers and assassins, and illustrated these charges by the alleged inhuman and barbarous way in which they treated their prisoners during the late war: e. g., the late James G. Blaine, of Maine, said on the floor of the United States Congress in 1876:

Mr. Davis was the author, knowingly, deliberately, guiltily and wilfully of the gigantic murder and crime at Andersonville, and I here before God, measuring my words, knowing their full extent and import, declare, that neither the deeds of the Duke of Alva in the Low Countries, nor the massacre of Saint Bartholomew, nor the thumb-screws and engines of torture of the Spanish Inquisition, begin to compare in atrocity with the hideous crimes of Andersonville;’ and he quoted and endorsed a report of a committee of the Federal Congress made during the war, in which they say:

‘No pen can describe, no painter sketch, no imagination comprehend, its fearful and unutterable iniquity. It would seem that the concentrated madness of earth and hell had found its final lodgment in the breasts of those who had inaugurated the rebellion, and controlled the policy of the Confederate Government, and that the prison at Andersonville had been selected for the most terrible human sacrifice which the world had ever seen.’

It is true that the statement made by Mr. Blaine was denied, and its falsity fully shown by both Mr. Davis and Senator Hill, of Georgia; and [79] the report of the Committee of the Federal Congress, and an equally slanderous and partisan publication entitled Narration of Sufferings in Rebel Military Prisons (with hideous looking skeleton illustrations of alleged victims), issued by the United States Sanitary Commission in 1864, were fully answered by a counter report of a committee of the Confederate Congress. And it is also true that in 1876, the Rev. John Wm. Jones, D. D., who was then editing the Southern Historical Society Papers, made a full and masterly investigation and report on this subject, vindicating the South and its leaders from these aspersions (for which work, as said in our last report, the Southern people owe Dr. Jones a lasting debt of gratitude.) (The letter of Mr. Davis, the report of the Committee of the Confederate Congress, with other valuable material collected by Dr. Jones, are all published in the first volume of the Southern Historical Papers, and also in a separate volume.) But whilst these publications were most satisfactory to us at the time, they, necessarily, did not contain the contemporaneous correspondence in reference to the exchange and treatment of prisoners, contained in the publication known as ‘Rebellion Offiicial Records,’ published by the Federal Government since that time—a correspondence invaluable, as it makes the representatives of the two Governments, at the time, tell, in their own way, the true story of these events. It is from these letters and other contemporaneous orders and papers, that we propose to show which side was responsible for Andersonville, Salisbury, ‘The Libby,’ and ‘Belle Isle,’ in the South, and for Camp Douglas, Gratiot Street, Fort Deleware, Johnson's Island, Elmira, Point Lookout, and other like places in the North. In doing this we do not think it either necessary or proper to revive the tales of horror and misery contained in many of the personal recitals of the captives on either side, such as are collected in the works of Dr. Jones, the ‘Sanitary Commission,’ and others. Many of these are simply heart-sickening and disgusting; and, making allowances for all exaggerations necessarily incident to the surroundings of the writers, there is enough in them to convince any candid reader that there were cruelties and abuses inflicted on helpless prisoners, by petty officers and guards, that should never have been inflicted, and which we hope the higher officers of neither Government would have permitted or tolerated for a moment.

But what we are concerned about is, to show by these ‘official records’ that neither Mr. Davis, nor any Department or representative of the Confederate Government, was responsible for the estab- [80] lishment of these prisons, and the sufferings therein, as heretofore charged by our enemies, and that the Federal Goverment, through Edwin M. Stanton, H. W. Halleck and U. S. Grant as its representative actors, was directly and solely responsible for the establishment of these places, and consequently for all the sufferings and death which occured therein.

The reports and correspondence relative to the exchange and treatment of prisoners fill four of the large volumes of the ‘Rebellion Records,’ and whilst we have striven to tell the full story, or rather to omit nothing essential to the truth, it is simply impossible, within the limits of this report, to do more than call attention to some of the most important and salient features of the correspondence, etc., and only to an extent necessary to disclose the real conditions at the several dates referred to. This is all that we have attempted to do, but we have tried to do this faithfully.

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