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[no. 1. see page 585.]

Washington, Nov. 13, 1863.
to Major-General Butler:
There is an urgent necessity to provide in your department a suitable depot for rebel prisoners of war, without any delay. I beg to recall the subject to your attention and ask you to take immediate measures to establish a depot at such point as you may deem suitable in your department, and inform me how soon you will be ready to receive prisoners of war, and in what numbers.

Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War.

Washington, Nov. 16, 1863.
to Major-General Butler:
Your report in regard to place for confinement of rebel prisoners has been received, and on consultation with the general-in-chief, it is believed to be inexpedient to select either Sewall's Front or Hatteras for the present. Therefore, all action in the matter is suspended.

Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War.

[no. 2. see page 586.]

headquarters Department of Virginia and North Carolina, Fortress Monroe, Nov. 18, 1863.
Hon. E. M. Stanton, Secretary of War:
Sir:--In the limits of a telegram, and for the public eye, it was impossible to explain my full thought on the subject of exchange of prisoners. I believed there was some misunderstanding upon the questions involved when I telegraphed, and your answer, with the sentiments of which in every word I concur, convince me that I was right in my belief.

No one will go farther in exerting every power of the government in protecting the colored troops and their officers, than myself. And if that is the question which prevents exchange, and we stand before the country upon that question, I have not a word further to urge. But I fear that is not the point, or at least it is not now understood by the country, that it is upon the pledge of the country's honor that all men, white or black, who fight for us, shall be protected, that we now feel obliged to let our fellowsoldiers starve, if such shall be the inhumanity of the rebels.

I ought to premise, perhaps, why I interfere where it is not specially within my command. Believing that I could do something for the good [1042] of the service, I take the liberty of making the application, and with your leave shall continue to make suggestions wherever and whenever I think the government may be aided by so doing, although not strictly called upon so to do, to complete my routine of duty.

I am informed and believe that the rebel authorities will exchange every officer and soldier they now hold in custody, whether colored or not, upon receiving an equivalent number in rank from us.

Indeed, I can put no other interpretation upon the letter of Robert Ould, Esq., agent of exchange in Richmond, of October 20, referring to a letter of a previous date, in which he says:--

More than a month ago I asked your acquiescence in a proposition that all officers and soldiers, on both sides, should be released in conformity with the provisions of the cartel. In order to obviate the difficulties between us, I suggested that all officers and men, on both sides, should be released, unless they were subject to charges, in which event the opposite government should have the right of holding one or more hostages if the retention was not justified. You stated to me, in conversation, that this proposition was very fair, and that you would ask the consent of your government to it. As usual, you have as yet made no response. I tell you frankly, I do not expect any. Perhaps you may disappoint me, and tell me that you reject or accept the proposition. I write this letter for the purpose of bringing to your recollection my proposition, and of dissipating the idea that seems to have been purposely encouraged by your public papers, that the Confederate government has refused or objected to a system of exchange.

In order to avoid any mistake in that direction, I now propose that all officers and men, on both sides, be released in conformity with the provisions of the cartel, the excess on one side or the other to be on parole. Will you accept this? I have no expectation of an answer, but perhaps you may give one. If it does come, I hope it will be soon.

I have forwarded copies of all the correspondence, so that you can refer to it. If there is any interpretation to the contrary, it is not made apparent to the country; and the government, for all that appears from the correspondence between the two commissioners, is now suffering our soldiers to be starved to death upon the proposition of inequality in the computation and value of paroles. If you will examine the correspondence, it will be seen that the whole question turns upon that point; not a suggestion is made that color, caste, or condition has anything to do with the dispute. It would seem that the discussion had grown sufficiently acrimonious to have lost sight of the point of dispute, as we know many discussions do.

I do not mean to impute blame to any party, because I am not sufficiently informed, nor have I the authority so to do, but simply to suggest a remedy. I assume that we have, in actual custody, some twenty-six thousand prisoners, against thirteen thousand that the rebels have. Now, then, why may not Ould's proposition be accepted, and we exchange man for man, officer for officer, until the rebels stop? If then every prisoner they hold has been exchanged, then the question of color does not arise, and our men will have been relieved from starvation up to that number. But, if the colored prisoners and their officers shall not be produced by the rebels for [1043] exchange, we shall have ten thousand of their men upon whom to work both retaliation and reprisal to the fullest extent, to wring from the rebels justice to the colored soldiers. It is not necessary to argue this point; its statement is the argument. This action — not offers and correspondence — will place the government right before the country, and if then the negro prisoners, whether civilians or soldiers, or their officers, are kept in prison or maltreated, the world will justify us in reprisal and retaliation to any extent.

I believe that this exchange will be made by the rebels from information derived from various sources, and specially from J. W. Monfort, agent of the State of Indiana, who has gone to Washington, and from whom you can learn the facts that lead to my belief.

Without suggesting any blame upon the part of the agent of exchange, would it not, in fact, seem to be that such a state of feeling has grown up between himself and the rebel agent that, without doing anything which would impute wrong, or detract from the appreciation ot the efforts of General Meredith, this might be done as if outside of either agent.

This is submitted for consideration with a single desire, to relieve the soldiers now in a condition to enlist all our sympathies.

I can make these suggestions all the more freely, as I leave this evening to arrange the affairs of this department in North Carolina, and can have probably no personal part in the matter.

I have the honor to be,

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Benj. F. Butler, Major-General Commanding.

[no. 3. see page 587.]

War Department, Washington City, Dec. 8, 1863.
General:--I am directed by the Secretary of War to inform you that your action in regard to supplying vaccine matter for the use of the Union prisoners at Richmond is approved by this department.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Jas. A. Hardie, Assistant Adjutant-General. Maj.-Gen. B. F. Butler, Commanding, etc. Fortress Monroe, Va.

[no. 4. see page 596.]

Washington, 11 P. M., April 14, 1864.
to Major-General Butler.
Your report respecting negotiations with Commissioner Ould for the exchange of prisoners of war has been referred to me for my orders.

Until examined by me, and my orders therein are received by you, decline all further negotiations.

U. S. Grant Lieutenant-General.


[no. 5. see page 596.]

headquarters armies of the United States, in field, Culpepper Court-House, Virginia, April 17, 1864.
Maj.-Gen. B. F. Butler, Commanding Department of Virginia and North Carolina, Fortress Monroe, Va.:
General — Your report of negotiations with Mr. Ould, Confederate States agent, touching the exchange of prisoners, has been referred to me by the Secretary of War, with directions to furnish you such instructions on the subject as I may deem proper.

After a careful examination of your report, the only points on which I deem instructions necessary, are :--

1st. Touching the validity of the paroles of the prisoners captured at Vicksburg and Port Hudson.

2d. The status of colored prisoners.

As to the first. No arrangement for the exchange of prisoners will be acceded to that does not fully recognize the validity of these paroles, and provide for the release to us of a sufficient number of prisoners now held by the Confederate authorities to cancel any balance that may be in our favor by virtue of these paroles. Until there is released to us an equal number of officers and men as were captured and paroled at Vicksburg and Port Hudson, not another Confederate prisoner of war will be paroled or exchanged.

As to the second. No distinction whatever will be made in the exchange between white and colored prisoners; the only question being, were they, at the time of their capture, in the military service of the United States. If they were, the same terms as to treatment while prisoners and conditions of release and exchange must be exacted and had, in the case of colored soldiers as in the case of white soldiers.

Non-acquiescence by the Confederate authorities in both or either of these propositions, will be regarded as a refusal on their part to agree to the further exchange of prisoners, and will be so treated by us.

I am, General, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

U. S. Grant. Lieutenant-General.

[no. 6. see page 605.]

City Point, Oct. 12, 1864.
to Major-General Butler:
Your correspondence with Judge Ould on the subject of exchange, and also the affidavits upon which you rely for proof of the unwarrantable conduct of the enemy in employing prisoners of war at work on fortifications, and your letter informing Mr. Ould of the steps taken to retaliate are received and the whole approved. I will forward the whole to the Secretary of War with my approval.

U. S. Grant, Lieutenant-General.


[no. 7. see page 605.]

City Point, Oct. 15, 1864, 4.20 P. M.
Major-General Butler:
I think it probably advisable, whilst Major Mulford is here, to get the naval prisoners on hand put through the lines. Points of difference may serve a good purpose hereafter.

U. S. Grant, Lieutenant-General.

[no. 8. see page 608.]

headquarters Department of Virginia and North Carolina, Army of the James. In the field, Va., Oct. 20, 1864.
General Order No. 134.

It having been officially certified by

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