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[616]

Chapter 38:

  • The exchange of prisoners, and their treatment in captivity.
  • -- exceeding interest of the subject. -- slight account of prisoners in the early periods of the war. -- Mr. Boyce's proposition. -- the Wool -- Cobb negotiation. -- the Fort Donelson captures. -- bad faith of the Federal Government. -- the cartel of 1862. -- character of Commissioner Ould. -- his humane and zealous services. -- shameful violation of the cartel by the Federal authorities. -- solemn protest of Commissioner Ould. -- counter-charge of the Federals. -- it is disproved by Commissioner Ould. -- case of Streight. -- the Federal Government declares paroles void. -- Commissioner Ould denounces the cheat. -- his retaliation with respect to the Vicksburg prisoners. -- he waives the cartel, and makes a new proposition. -- he sends to Washington lists of mortality in the Andersonville prison. -- the Federal Government does not reply. -- its persistent and inhuman silence. -- explanation of it. -- the Washington Government resolved to make a case of “rebel barbarity.” -- the site, arrangements and discipline of the Andersonville prison. -- explanation of the suffering and mortality there. -- extraordinary proposition of the Confederate Government to release without equivalents and without formality all sick and wounded Federal prisoners. -- Secretary Stanton deaf to the cry of the sufferers. -- his great guilt. -- exchanges resumed under Gen. Grant's authority. -- report of the joint select committee of the Confederate Congress, appointed to investigate the condition and treatment of prisoners of war. -- Northern publications on this subject. -- refutation of “raw — head — and — bloody — bones” stories. -- humanity of the Confederate authorities. -- a terrible record of Federal cruelties. -- barbarous punishments in Northern prisons. -- last humane proposition of Commissioner Ould. -- his letter to Gen. Grant. -- a complete record of justice and humanity on the part of the Confederates


The exchange of prisoners taken during the war; their treatment in their places of confinement North and South; the incidents of the cartel, altogether, constitute so large and interesting a subject that we have reserved its treatment for a separate chapter. On the exposition of this intricate matter depends much of the good name of the Confederates and the contrary title of the enemy; and it may be remarked that no subject which tended to keep alive a feeling of bitterness and animosity between the [617] 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 authorities.

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: [618]

Haxall's Landing, on James River, July 22, 1862.
The undersigned, having been commissioned by the authorities they respectively represent, to make arrangements for a general exchange of prisoners of war, have agreed to the following articles:

Article I: It is hereby agreed and stipulated, that all prisoners of war held by either party, including those taken on private armed vessels, known as privateers, shall be exchanged upon the conditions and terms following:

Prisoners to be exchanged, man for man and officer for officer; privateers to be placed upon the footing of officers and men of the navy.

Men and officers of lower grades, may be exchanged for officers of a higher grade, and men and officers of different services may be exchanged according to the following scale of equivalents.

A general-commanding-in-chief, or an admiral, shall be exchanged for officers of equal rank or for sixty privates or common seamen.

A flag officer or major-general shall be exchanged for officers of equal rank or for forty privates or common seamen.

A commodore, carrying a broad pennant, or a brigadier-general shall be exchanged for officers of equal rank or twenty privates or common seamen.

A captain in the navy or a colonel shall be exchanged for officers of equal rank or for fifteen privates or common seamen.

A lieutenant-colonel, or commander in the navy, shall be exchanged for officers of equal rank or for ten privates or common seamen.

A lieutenant-commander or a major shall be exchanged for officers of equal rank or eight privates or common seamen.

A lieutenant or a master in the navy or a captain in the army or marines shall be exchanged for officers of equal rank or six privates or common seamen.

Master's mates in the navy, or lieutenants or ensigns in the army, shall be exchanged for officers of equal rank or four privates or common seamen.

Midshipmen, warrant officers in the navy, masters of merchant vessels and commanders of privateers, shall be exchanged for officers of equal rank or three privates or common seamen; second captains, lieutenants, or mates of merchant vessels or privateers, and all petty officers in the navy, and all non-commissioned officers in the army or marines, shall be severally exchanged for persons of equal rank or for two privates or common seamen; and private soldiers or common seamen, shall be exchanged for each other, man for man.

Article II: Local, State, civil, and militia rank held by persons not in actual military service, will not be recognized; the basis of exchange being the grade actually held in the naval and military service of the respective parties.

Article III: If citizens held by either party on charges of disloyalty for any alleged civil offence are exchanged, it shall only be for citizens. Captured sutlers, teamsters and all civilians in the actual service of either party to be exchanged for persons in similar position.

Article IV: All prisoners of war to be discharged on parole in ten days after their capture, and the prisoners now held and those hereafter taken to be transported to the points mutually agreed upon, at the expense of the capturing party. The surplus prisoners, not exchanged, shall not be permitted to take up arms again, nor to serve as military police, or constabulary force in any fort, garrison, or field work, held by either of the respective parties, nor as guards of prisoners, deposit, or stores, nor to discharge any duty usually performed by soldiers, until exchanged under the provisions of this [619] cartel. The exchange is not to be considered complete until the officer or soldier exchanged for has been actually restored to the lines to which he belongs.

Article V: Each party, upon the discharge of prisoners of the other party, is authorized to discharge an equal number of their own officers or men from parole, furnishing at the same time to the other party a list of their prisoners discharged, and of their own officers and men relieved from parole; thus enabling each party to relieve from parole such of their own officers and men as the party may choose. The lists thus mutually furnished will keep both parties advised of the true condition of the exchange of prisoners.

Article VI: The stipulations and provisions above mentioned to be of binding obligation during the continuance of the war, it matters not which party may have the surplus of prisoners, the great principles involved being: 1st. An equitable exchange of prisoners, man for man, officer for officer, or officers of higher grade, exchanged for officers of lower grade, or for privates, according to the scale of equivalents. 2d. That privates and officers and men of different services may be exchanged according to the same scale of equivalents. 3d. That all prisoners, of whatever arm of service, are to be exchanged or paroled in ten days from the time of their capture, if it be practicable to transfer them to their own lines in that time; if not, as soon thereafter as practicable. 4th. That no officer, soldier, employee in service of either party is to be considered as exchanged and absolved from his parole until his equivalent has actually reached the lines of his friends. 5th. That the parole forbids the performance of field, garrison, police, or guard, or constabulary duty.

John A. Dix, Major-General. D. H. Hill, Major-General, C. S. A.

Supplementary articles.

Article VII: All prisoners of war now held on either side, and all prisoners hereafter taken, shall be sent, with all reasonable despatch, to A. M. Aiken's, below Dutch Gap, on the James River, in Virginia, or to Vicksburg, on the Mississippi River, in the State of Mississippi, and there exchanged or paroled until such exchange can be effected, notice being previously given by each party of the number of prisoners it will send, and the time when they will be delivered at those points respectively; and in case the vicissitudes of war shall change the military relations of the places designated in this article to the contending parties, so as to render the same inconvenient for the delivery and exchange of prisoners, other places, bearing as nearly as may be the present local relations of said places to the lines of said parties, shall be, by mutual agreement, substituted. But nothing in this article contained shall prevent the commanders of two opposing armies from exchanging prisoners, or releasing them on parole, at other points mutually agreed on by said commanders.

Article VIII: For the purpose of carrying into effect the foregoing articles of agreement, each party will appoint two agents, to be called agents for the exchange of prisoners of war, whose duty it shall be to communicate with each other, by correspondence and otherwise; to prepare the lists of prisoners; to attend to the delivery of the prisoners at the places agreed on, and to carry out promptly, effectually, and in good faith, all the details and provisions of the said articles of agreement.

Article IX: And in case any misunderstanding shall arise in regard to any clause or stipulation in the foregoing articles, it is mutually agreed that such misunderstanding [620] shall not interrupt the release of prisoners on parole, as herein provided, but shall be made the subject of friendly explanation, in order that the object of this agreement may neither be defeated nor postponed.

John A. Dix, Major-General. D. H. Hill, Major-General, C. S. A.

Mr. Robert Ould was appointed agent of the Confederacy under this important text of the war. He was eminently qualified for the office. He was among the most accomplished jurists of the country; he had one of the most vigorous intellects in the Confederacy; he was a man of large humanity, dignified, and even lofty manners, and spotless personal honour. The record of his services in the cause of humanity and truth was one of the purest in either the public bureau or secret chamber of the Confederacy.

It will be seen that the chief, if not the only purpose, of the instrument copied above was to secure the release of all prisoners of war. To that end the fourth article provided that all prisoners of war should be discharged on parole in ten days after their capture, and that the prisoners then held and those thereafter taken should be transported to the points mutually agreed upon, at the expense of the capturing party. The sixth article also stipulated that “all prisoners of whatever arm of service are to be exchanged or paroled in ten days from the time of their capture, if it be practicable to transfer them to their own lines in that time; if not, as soon thereafter as practicable.”

From the date of the cartel until July, 1863, the Confederate authorities held the excess of prisoners. During that interval deliveries were made as fast as the Federal Government furnished transportation. Indeed, upon more than one occasion, Commissioner Ould urged the Federal authorities to send increased means of transportation. As ready as the enemy always has been to bring false accusations against the Confederates, it has never been alleged that they failed or neglected to make prompt deliveries of prisoners who were not under charges when they held the excess. On the other hand, during the same time the cartel was openly and notoriously violated by the Federal authorities. Officers and men were kept in cruel confinement, sometimes in irons or doomed to cells, without charge or trial.

These facts were distinctly charged in the correspondence of Commissioner Ould. On the 26th July, 1863, he addressed a letter to Lieut.-Col. Ludlow, then acting as agent of exchange on the Federal side, in which he used the following impressive and vigorous language in vindication of himself and his Government:

Now that our official connection is being terminated, I say to you in the fear of God-and I appeal to Him for the truth of the declaration — that there has been no single moment, from the time we were first brought together in connection with the matter of exchange to the present hour, during which there has not been an open and [621] notorious violation of the cartel, by your authorities. Officers and men, numbering over hundreds, have been, during your whole connection with the cartel, kept in cruel confinement, sometimes in irons, or doomed to cells, without charges or trial. They are in prison now, unless God, in His mercy, has released them. In our parting moments, let me do you the justice to say that I do not believe it is so much your fault as that of your authorities. Nay, more, I believe your removal from your position has been owing to the personal efforts you have made for a faithful observance, not only of the cartel, but of humanity, in the conduct of the war.

Again and again have I importuned you to tell me of one officer or man now held in confinement by us, who was declared exchanged. You have, to those appeals, furnished one, Spencer Kellog. For him I have searched in vain. On the other hand, I appeal to your own records for the cases where your reports have shown that our officers and men have been held for long months and even years in violation of the cartel and our agreements. The last phase of the enormity, however, exceeds all others. Although you have many thousands of our soldiers now in confinement in your prisons, and especially in that horrible hold of death Fort Delaware, you have not, for several weeks, sent us any prisoners During those weeks you have despatched Capt. Mulford with the steamer New York to City Point, three or four times, without any prisoners. For the first two or three times some sort of an excuse was attempted. None is given at this present arrival. I do not mean to be offensive when I say that effrontery could not give one. I ask you with no purpose of disrespect, what can you think of this covert attempt to secure the delivery of all your prisoners in our hands, without the release of those of ours who are languishing in hopeless misery in your prisons and dungeons?

It is a fact beyond all controversy that officers and soldiers of the Confederacy entitled to delivery and exchange, were kept in confinement, in defiance of the cartel, some under charges, and some without. Many of these officers and soldiers were in confinement at the time of the adoption of the cartel, and continued to be so kept for months and years afterwards. In a few instances Commissioner Ould succeeded by persistent pressure in securing their release. In other cases, when from returned prisoners he would learn their place of confinement, and state it to the Federal agent, there would either be a denial of the fact that the party was confined there, or he would be removed to some other prison. Many of these prisoners were actually declared exchanged by the Federal Agent of Exchange, but yet still kept in prison, and all the others were entitled to doe livery for exchange under the terms of the cartel.

To the serious allegation of a retention of prisoners in spite of the cartel and all the obligations of good faith, the Federal Government never attempted anything but a paltry counter-charge of the weakest and most [622] disingenuous kind. During the period before mentioned the only complaints made by the Federal authorities of any breach of the cartel, were in the cases of such officers as were retained in consequence of President Davis' several proclamations, and in the case of Gen. Streight and his officers. In looking back over the prison records of the Confederacy, the author can find no instance of any officers or men who were kept in prison after the date of the cartel under the proclamations of Mr. Davis. In point of fact, nothing was ever done under them. No inquiry was ever made whether the prisoners led negro troops or not. Streight's men were detained for several months. The reasons for their detention were fully given. In a letter written by Commissioner Ould, August 1st, 1863, to Brig.-Gen. Meredith, he said: “In retaining Col. Streight and his command, the Confederate authorities have not gone as far as those of the United States have claimed for themselves the right to go ever since the establishment of the cartel. You have claimed and exercised the right to retain officers and men indefinitely, not only upon charges actually preferred, but upon mere suspicion. You have now in custody officers who were in confinement when the cartel was framed, and who have since been declared exchanged. Some of them have been tried, but most of them have languished in prison all the weary time without trial or charges. I stand prepared to prove these assertions. This course was pursued, too, in the face not only of notice, but of protest. Do you deny to us the right to detain officers and men for trial upon grave charges, while you claim the right to keep in confinement any who may be the object of your suspicion or special enmity?”

Commissioner Ould also informed the Federal authorities, in 1863, that the charges against Streight and his command were not sustained, and that they were held as other prisoners. At the time, however, of this latter notification, other difficulties had supervened, which had almost entirely stopped exchanges.

Up to July, 1863, the Confederates had a large excess of prisoners. The larger number had been released upon parole after capture. Such paroles had been without question respected by both parties, until about the middle of 1863, when they were to be declared to be void (except under very special circumstances) by General Orders at Washington. The true reason of those General Orders was that the Federals had no lists of paroled prisoners (released on capture) to be charged against the Confederates. The latter had paid off all debts of that kind from their abundant stores. They, on the other hand, had many such lists which were unsatisfied, being principally captures in Kentucky, Tennessee, etc. Such being the state of affairs, on the 8th of April, 1863, Commissioner Ould was informed that “exchanges will be confined to such equivalents as are held in confinement on either side.” In other words, as all the paroles held by [623] the Federals had been satisfied and paid for in equivalents, and as they then held none of such to be charged against the Confederates, they would no longer respect such as they held, and the latter must deliver men actually in captivity for such as they would send. The Confederates then had the outstanding paroles, but the Federals had the majority of prisoners in hand. The effect of all this would have been, after the Confederates had delivered all their prisoners, to leave a large balance of their people in prison, while they at the same time had in their possession the paroles of ten times as many prisoners as the enemy held in captivity. This arrangement Commissioner Ould refused with indignation. The officers and men, who gave the paroles referred to, were subsequently, in violation of their parole, and without being declared exchanged, ordered to duty, and served against the South. Thereupon, Commissioner Ould off-setted such paroles against similar paroles taken by our officers and men at Vicksburg, and declared a like number of the latter exchanged. That was the only way he had of “getting even” with the enemy; and no one can say that the way was not fair and honourable.

From this time the provision of the cartel, that all prisoners, where practicable, were to be delivered within ten days was practically nullified, and was not respected during the remainder of the war. Such deliveries as were made afterwards, were in consequence of special agreements. The most strenuous efforts were made by Commissioner Ould to remedy this distressing state of things. The Confederate authorities only claimed that the provisions of the cartel should be fulfilled. They only asked the enemy to do what, without any hesitation, they had done during the first year of the operation of the cartel. Seeing a persistent purpose on the part of the Federal Government to violate its own agreement, the Confederate authorities, moved by the sufferings of the men in the prisons of each belligerent, determined to abate their fair demands, and accordingly, on the 10th of August, 1864, Commissioner Ould addressed the following communication to Major John E. Mulford, Assistant Agent of Exchange:

Richmond, Va., August 10th, 1864.
Maj. John E. Mulford, Asst. Agent of Exchange:
sir: You have several times proposed to me to exchange the prisoners respectively held by the two belligerents, officer for officer, and man for man. The same offer has also been made by other officials having charge of matters connected with the exchange )f prisoners. This proposal has heretofore been declined by the Confederate authorities, they insisting upon the terms of the cartel, which required the delivery of the excess on either side upon parole. In view, however, of the very large number of prisoners now held by each party, and the suffering consequent upon their continued confinement, I now consent to the above proposal and agree to deliver to you the prisoners held in captivity by the Confederate authorities, provided you agree to deliver an equal number of Confederate officers and men. As equal numbers are delivered from time to time, they will be declared exchanged. This proposal is made with the understanding that the [624] officers and men on both sides, who have been longest in captivity, will be first delivered, where it is practicable. I shall be happy to hear from you as speedily as possible, whether this arrangement can be carried out.

Respectfully, your obedient servant, R. Ould, Agent of Exchange.

The delivery of this letter was accompanied with a statement of the mortality which was hurrying so many Federal prisoners, at Andersonville to the grave.

On the 20th of the same month Major Mulford returned with the flag of truce steamer, but brought no answer to the letter of the 10th of August. In conversation with him, Commissioner Ould asked if he had any reply to make to the communication, and his answer was that he was not authorized to make any. So deep was the solicitude which Commissioner Ould felt in the fate of the captives in Northern prisons, that he determined to make another effort. In order to obviate any objection which technicality might raise as to the person to whom his communication was addressed, he wrote to Maj.-Gen. E. A. Hitchcock, the Federal Commissioner of Exchange, residing in Washington city, the following letter, and delivered the same to Major Mulford on the day of its date. Accompanying that letter was a copy of the communication which he had addressed to Major Mulford on the 10th of August:

Richmond, August 22, 1864.
Maj.-Gen. E. A. Hitchcock, U. S. Commissioner of Exchange:
sir: Enclosed is a copy of a communication which, on the 10th inst., I addressed and delivered to Major Jno. E. Mulford, Assistant Agent of Exchange. Under the circumstances of the case, I deem it proper to forward this paper to you, in order that you may fully understand the position which is taken by the Confederate authorities. I shall be glad if the proposition therein made is accepted by your Government.

Respectfully your obedient servant, Ro. Ould, Agent of Exchange.

On the afternoon of the 30th August, Commissioner Ould was notified that the flag of truce steamer had again appeared at Varina. On the following day he sent to Maj. Mulford the following note:

Richmond, August 31, 1864.
Maj. John E. Mulford, Assistant Agent of Exchange:
Sir: On the 10th of this month I addressed you a communication, to which I have received no answer. On the 22d inst. I also addressed a communication to Maj.-Gen. E. A. Hitchcock, U. S. Commissioner of Exchange, enclosing a copy of my letter to you of the 10th inst. I now respectfully ask you to state in writing whether you have any reply to either of said communications; and if not, whether you have any reason to give why no reply has been made?

Respectfully, your obedient servant, Ro. Ould, Agent of Exchange

[625]

In a short time Commissioner Ould received the following response:

Flag of Truce Steamer New York, Varina, Va., August 31, 1864.
Hon. R. Ould, Agent of Exchange:
sir: I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your favour of to-day, requesting answer, etc., to your communication of the 10th inst., on the question of the exchange of prisoners. To which, in reply, I would say, I have no communication on the subject from our authorities, nor am I yet authorized to make answer.

I am, sir, very respectfully, Your obedient servant, John E. Mulford, Ass't Agent of Exchange.

This was the whole Federal reply to the humane proposition of the Confederacy-this the brief indication of their cruel purpose to let their prisoners rot and die in insufficient prisons, merely for the purpose of pointing a libel and colouring a story against the Southern Confederacy. The offer of Commissioner Ould was on the extreme of generosity. He proposed, when the enemy had a large excess of prisoners, to exchange officer for officer and man for man. This arrangement would have left the surplus in the enemy's hands. But the liberal offer, which would have instantly restored to life and freedom thousands of suffering captives, was never even heeded at Washington; it was brutally calculated there that such a delivery from the prison pens of Andersonville and elsewhere would put so many thousand Confederate muskets in the field, and cut off a chapter of horrours, from which it had been convenient to draw texts on the subject of “rebel barbarities.” To keep that text before the world was the determined purpose at Washington. It had again and again been announced that the subsistence of the Confederacy lad fallen so low-chiefly through the warfare of the enemy making it a point to destroy in all parts of the country supplies of every kind — that its own soldiers were compelled to subsist upon a third of a pound of meat and a pound of coarse corn meal or flour every day. With such reduced rations, Confederate soldiers themselves were often exposed with thin and tattered clothes to the freezing winter storms, without tents, overcoats, blankets or shoes. In these circumstances it was impossible to provide properly for many tens of thousands of prisoners at Andersonville, Salisbury, and other places south of Richmond, where crowded quarters, prepared only for smaller numbers, and frequent removals to prevent recapture, added to the discomfort of the prisoners, and swelled the list of mortality. The authorities at Washington refused to do their own part to relieve the sufferings of these unhappy men, and deliberately decreed the extension of their sufferings that they might put before the world false and plausible proofs of “rebel barbarity.”

It is simply in opposition to all that is known of Southern generosity in the war to believe that the sufferings of Andersonville were the result [626] of neglect, still less of design on the part of the Confederate Government. A single train of acts is not likely to be so opposed to the whole career and consistent character of a people in a four years war. The site of the prison at Andersonville — a point on the Southwestern railway in Georgia had been selected under an official order having reference to the following points: “A healthy locality, plenty of pure good water, a running stream, and, if possible, shade trees, and in the immediate neighbourhood of grist and saw mills.” The pressure was so great at Richmond, and the supplies so scant, that prisoners were sent forward while the stockade was only about half finished. When the first installment of prisoners arrived, there was no guard at Andersonville, and the little squad which had charge of them in the cars had to remain; and at no time did the guard, efficient and on duty, exceed fifteen hundred, to man the stockade, to guard, and do general duty, and afford relief and enforce discipline over thirty-four thousand prisoners.

In regard to the sufferings and mortality among the prisoners at Andersonville, none of it arose from the unhealthiness of the locality. The food, though the same as that used by the Confederate soldiers, the bread, too, being corn, was different from that to which they had been accustomed, did not agree with them, and scurvy and diarrhea prevailed to a considerable extent; neither disease, however, was the result of starvation. That some prisoners did not get their allowance, although a full supply was sent in, is true. But there not being a guard sufficient to attend to distribution, Federal prisoners were appointed, each having a certain number allotted to his charge, among whom it was his duty to see that every man got his portion, and, as an inducement, this prisoner had especial favours and advantages; upon complaint by those under him, he was broke and another selected; so that it only required good faith on the part of these head men, thus appointed, to insure to each man his share. But prisoners would often sell their rations for whiskey and tobacco, and would sell the clothes from their backs for either of them.

In regard to sanitary regulations, there were certain prescribed places and modes for the reception of all filth, and a sluice was made to carry it off; but the most abominable disregard was manifested of all sanitary regulations, and to such a degree that if a conspiracy had been entered into by a large number of the prisoners to cause the utmost filth and stench, it could not have accomplished a more disgusting result. Besides which there was a large number of atrocious villains, whose outrages in robbing, beating and murdering their fellow-prisoners must have been the cause, directly or remotely, of very many deaths and of an inconceivable amount of suffering. We must recollect that among thirty-four thousand prisoners, who had encountered the hardships of the fields of many battles, and had had wounds, there were many of delicate physique-many of respect. [627] ability, to whom such fellowship, such self-created filth, and such atrocious ruffianism, would of itself cause despondency, disease, and death; and when, in addition to this, was the conviction that the Federal War Department, perfectly cognizant of all this, had deliberately consigned them indefinitely to this condition, a consuming despair was superadded to all their other sufferings.

The merits of Andersonville may be summed up by saying that it was of unquestioned healthfulness; it was large enough and had water enough, and could have been made tolerable for the number originally intended for it. It appears that the increase of that number was apparently a matter of necessity for the time; that other sites were selected and prepared with all possible despatch; that the provisions were similar in amount and quality to those used by Confederate soldiers; that deficient means rendered a supply of clothing, tents, and medicines scanty; that the rules of discipline and sanitary regulations of the prison, if complied with by the prisoners, would have secured to each a supply of food, and have averted almost, if not altogether, the filth and the ruffianism, which two causes outside of unavoidable sickness, caused the great mass of suffering and mortality.

But the history of the extraordinary efforts of the Confederate authorities to relieve the sufferings of Andersonville, through some resumption of exchanges, does not end with the proposition referred to as made by Commissioner Ould to exchange man for man, and leave the surplus at the disposition of the enemy. It was followed by another more liberal and more extraordinary proposition. Acting under the direct instructions of the Secretary of War, and seeing plainly that there was no hope of any general or extended partial system of exchange, Commissioner Ould, in August, 1864, offered to the Federal agent of exchange, Gen. Mulford, to deliver to him all the sick and wounded Federal prisoners we had, without insisting upon the delivery of an equivalent number of our prisoners in return. He also informed Gen. Mulford of the terrible mortality among the Federal prisoners, urging him to be swift in sending transportation to the mouth of the Savannah River for the purpose of taking them away. The offer of Commissioner Ould included all the sick and wounded at Andersonville and other Confederate prisons. lie further informed Gen. Mulford, in order to make his Government safe in sending transportation, that if the sick and wounded did not amount to ten or fifteen thousand men, the Confederate authorities would make up that number in well men. This offer, it will be recollected, was made early in August, 1864. Gen. Mulford informed Commissioner Ould it was directly communicated to his Government, yet no timely advantage was ever taken of it. This interesting and important fact :is for the first time authoritatively published in these pages. It contains volumes of significance. The questtion [628] occurs, who was responsible for the sufferings of the sick and wounded and prisoners at Andersonville, from August to December, 1864? The world will ask with amazement, if it was possible that thousands of prisoners were left to die in inadequate places of confinement, merely to make a case against the South-merely for romance! The single fact gives the clue to the whole story of the deception and inhuman cruelty of the authorities at Washington with reference to their prisoners of war — the key to a chapter of horrours that even the hardy hand of History shakes to unlock. To blacken the reputation of an honourable enemy; to make a false appeal to the sensibilities of the world; to gratify an inhuman revenge, Mr. Stanton, the saturnine and malignant Secretary of War at Washington, did not hesitate to doom to death thousands of his countrymen, and then to smear their sentinels with accusing blood.

It was the purpose of Commissioner Ould to keep open the offer he had made, and deliver to the Federal authorities all their sick and wounded, from time to time, especially if the straits of war should deny the Confederates the means of providing for their comfort. To show how honest and earnest he was in his offer to Mulford, when the transportation did arrive, he did deliver to him at Savannah and Charleston thirteen thousand men, large numbers of whom were well, and was ready to deliver as many as his transportation could accommodate, and that too under the difficulties and pressure of Sherman's invasion of Georgia, when nothing but temporary shiftings were our expedients.

The transfer of the entire matter of the exchange of prisoners from the control of Secretary Stanton, who had been averse to all arguments of justice, and to all appeals on this subject, to that of Gen. Grant, offered to Commissioner Ould another opportunity to essay an effort of humanity. On the 11th February, 1865, he proposed to Gen. Grant, to deliver without delay all the prisoners on hand, upon receiving an assurance from him that he would deliver an equal number of Confederate prisoners, within a reasonable time. This was accepted, and every energy was used to send immediately through Wilmington, James River, and other practicable ways, all the prisoners we had. This was very speedily consummated, so far as all in prisons in Virginia, and North and South Carolina, were concerned. The presence of the enemy, and the cutting of our communications, only prevented the immediate execution elsewhere. Orders to that effect, and messengers to secure it, were sent to Georgia, Alabama, and the Trans-Mississippi. A return number of prisoners, to the amount of about five thousand per week, were sent to Richmond, until the fortunes of war closed all operations, even down to the matter of an adjustment of accounts. The adjustment has never been made.

The general subject of the condition and treatment of prisoners, on both sides, in the war, is involved in much we have already written of the [629] history of the exchange question. But in order to make a proper case for posterity on a special and deeply interesting topic, Commissioner Ould urged and succeeded in raising a joint Congressional Comittee at Richmond, to take the testimony of returned prisoners as to their treatment by the enemy. That Committee was raised, and a large mass of testimony was taken, which was unfortunately lost; by fire. This Committee, however, made a report in February, 1865, a copy of which was preserved. It is a document which should be read with care; the space it occupies could scarcely be filled with a narrative more just and condensed; and we therefore annex it, in full:


Report of the joint select committee of the Confederate Congress, appointed to investigate the condition and treatment of prisoners of war.

The duties assigned to the committee under the several resolutions of Congress designating them, are “to investigate and report upon the condition and treatment of the prisoners of war respectively held by the Confederate and United States Governments, upon the causes of their detention, and the refusal to exchange; and also upon the violations by the enemy of the rules of civilized warfare in the conduct of the war.” These subjects are broad in extent and importance; and in order fully to investigate and present them, the committee propose to continue their labours in obtaining evidence, and deducing from it a truthful report of facts illustrative of the spirit in which the war has been conducted.

But we deem it proper at this time to make a preliminary report, founded upon evidence recently taken, relating to the treatment of prisoners of war by both belligerents. This report is rendered especially important, by reason of persistent efforts lately made by the Government of the United States, and by associations and individuals connected or co-operating with it, to asperse the honour of the Confederate authorities, and to charge them with deliberate and wilful cruelty to prisoners of war. Two publications have been issued at the North within the past year, and have been circulated not only in the United States, but in some parts of the South, and in Europe. One of these is the report of the joint select committee of the Northern Congress on the conduct of the war, known as “Report no. 67.” The other purports to be a “Narrative of the privations and sufferings of United States officers and soldiers while prisoners of war,” and is issued as a report of a commission of enquiry appointed by “The United States Sanitary Commission.”

This body is alleged to consist of Valentine Mott, M. D., Edward Delafield, M. D., Gouverneur Morris Wilkins, Esq., Ellerslie Wallace, M. D.,--Ion. J. J. Clarke Hare, and Rev. Treadwell Walden. Although these persons are not of sufficient public importance and weight to give authority to their publication, yet your committee have deemed it proper to notice it in connection with the “Report no. 67,” before mentioned, because the Sanitary Commission has been understood to have acted to a greater extent under the control and by the authority of the United States Government, and because their report claims to be founded on evidence taken in solemn form.

A candid reader of these publications will not fail to discover that, whether the statements they make be true or not, their spirit is not adapted to promote a better feeling between the hostile powers. They are not intended for the humane purpose of [630] ameliorating the condition of the unhappy prisoners held in captivity. They are designed to inflame the evil passions of the North; to keep up the war spirit among their own people; to represent the South as acting under the dominion of a spirit of cruelty, inhumanity, and interested malice, and thus to vilify her people in the eyes of all on whom these publications can work. They are justly characterized by the Hon. James Mi. Mason as belonging to that class of literature called the “sensational” --a style of writing prevalent for many years at the North, and which, beginning with the writers of newspaper narratives and cheap fiction, has gradually extended itself, until it is now the favoured mode adopted by medical professors, judges of courts, and reverend clergymen, and is even chosen as the proper style for a report by a committee of their Congress.

Nothing can better illustrate the truth of this view than the “Report no. 67,” and its appendages. It is accompanied by eight pictures, or photographs, alleged to represent United States prisoners of war, returned from Richmond, in a sad state of emaciation and suffering. Concerning these cases, your committee will have other remarks, to be presently submitted. They are only alluded to now to show that this report does really belong to the “sensational” class of literature, and that, prima facie, it is open to the same criticism to which the yellow-covered novels, the “narratives of noted highwaymen,” and the “awful beacons” of the Northern book-stalls should be subjected.

The intent and spirit of this report may be gathered from the following extract: “The evidence proves, beyond all manner of doubt, a determination on the part of the rebel authorities, deliberately and persistently practised, for a long time past, to subject those of our soldiers who have been so unfortunate as to fall into their hands, to a system of treatment which has resulted in reducing many of those who have survived and been permitted to return to us, to a condition, both physically and mentally, which no language we can use, can adequately describe.” --Report, p. 1. And they give also a letter from Edwin M. Stanton, the Northern Secretary of War, from which the following is an extract: “The enormity of the crime committed by the rebels towards our prisoners for the last several months is not known or realized by our people, and cannot but fill with horrour the civilized world, when the facts are fully revealed. There appears to have been a deliberate system of savage and barbarous treatment and starvation, the result of which will be that few (if any) of the prisoners that have been in their hands during the past winter, will ever again be in a condition to render any service or ever to enjoy life.” --Report, p. 4. And the Sanitary Commission, in their pamphlet, after picturing many scenes of privations and suffering, and bringing many charges of cruelty against the Confederate authorities, declare as follows:--“The conclusion is unavoidable, therefore, that these privations and sufferings have been designedly inflicted by the military and other authorities of the rebel Government, and could not have been due to causes which such authorities could not control.” --p. 95.

After examining these publications, your committee approached the subject with an earnest desire to ascertain the truth. If their investigation should result in ascertaining that these charges (or any of them) were true, the committee desired, as far as might be in their power, and as far as they could influence the Congress, to remove the evils complained of, and to conform to the most humane spirit of civilization: and if these charges were unfounded and false, they deemed it as a sacred duty, without delay, to present to the Confederate Congress and people, and to the public eye of the enlightened world, a vindication of their country, and to relieve her authorities from the injurious slanders brought against her by her enemies. With these views, we have taken a considerable amount of testimony bearing on the subject. We have sought to obtain witnesses whose position or duties made them familiar with the facts testified to, and whose characters [631] entitled them to full credit. We have not hesitated to examine Northern prisoners of war upon points and experience specially within their knowledge. We now present the testimony taken by us, and submit a report of facts and inferences fairly deducible from the evidence, from the admissions of our enemies, and from public records of undoubted authority.

First in order, your committee will notice the charge contained both in “Report no. 67,” and in the “sanitary” publication, founded on the appearance and condition of the sick prisoners sent from Richmond to Annapolis and Baltimore about the last of April, 1864. These are the men, some of whom form the subjects of the photographs with which the United States Congressional Committee have adorned their report. The disingenuous attempt is made in both these publications to produce the impression that these sick and emaciated men were fair representatives of the general state of the prisoners held by the South, and that all their prisoners were being rapidly reduced to the same state by starvation and cruelty, and by neglect, ill treatment, and denial of proper food, stimulants, and medicines in the Confederate hospitals. Your committee take pleasure in saying that not only is this charge proved to be wholly false, but the evidence ascertains facts as to the Confederate hospitals in which Northern prisoners of war are treated, highly creditable to the authorities which established them, and to the surgeons and their aids who have so humanely conducted them. The facts are simply these:

The Federal authorities, in violation of the cartel, having for a long time refused exchange of prisoners, finally consented to a partial exchange of the sick and wounded on both sides. Accordingly, a number of such prisoners were sent from the hospitals in Richmond. General directions had been given that none should be sent except those who might be expected to endure the removal and passage with safety to their lives; but in some cases the surgeons were induced to depart from this rule, by the entreaties of some officers and men in the last stages of emaciation, suffering not only with excessive debility, but with “nostalgia,” or home-sickness, whose cases were regarded as desperate, and who could not live if they remained, and might possibly improve if carried home. Thus it happened that some very sick and emaciated men were carried to Annapolis, but their illness was not the result of ill treatment or neglect. Such cases might be found in any large hospital, North or South. They might even be found in private families, where the sufferer would be surrounded by every comfort that love could bestow. Yet these are the cases which, with hideous violation of decency, the Northern committee have paraded in pictures and photographs. They have taken their own sick and enfeebled soldiers, have stripped them naked; have exposed them before a daguerreian apparatus; have pictured every shrunken limb and muscle-and all for the purpose, not of relieving their sufferings, but of bringing a false and slanderous charge against the South.

The evidence is overwhelming that the illness of these [Federal] prisoners was not the result of ill treatment or neglect. The testimony of Surgeons Semple and Spence, of Assistant Surgeons Tinsley, Marriott, and Miller, and of the Federal prisoners, E. P. Dalrymple, George Henry Brown, and Freeman B. Teague, ascertains this to the satisfaction of every candid mind. But in refuting this charge, your committee are compelled, by the evidence, to bring a counter-charge against the Northern authorities, which they fear will not be so easily refuted. In exchange, a number of Confederate sick and wounded prisoners have been at various times delivered at Richmond and at Savannah. The mortality among these on the passage and their condition when delivered, were so deplorable as to justify the charge that they had been treated with inhuman neglect by the Northern authorities. [632]

Assistant Surgeon Tinsley testifies: “I have seen many of our prisoners returned from the North, who were nothing but skin and bones. They were as emaciated as a man could be to retain life, and the photographs (appended to ‘Report No. 67,’ ) would not be exaggerated representations of our returned prisoners to whom I thus allude. I saw two hundred and fifty of our sick brought in on litters from the steamer at Rockett's. Thirteen dead bodies were brought off the steamer the same night. At least thirty died in one night after they were received.”

Surgeon Spence testifies: “I was at Savannah, and saw rather over three thousand prisoners received. The list showed that a large number had died on the passage from Baltimore to Savannah. The number sent from the Federal prisons was three thousand five hundred, and out of that number they delivered only three thousand and twentyeight, to the best of my recollection. Capt. Hatch can give you the exact number. Thus, about four hundred and seventy-two died on the passage. I was told that sixty-seven dead bodies had been taken from one train of cars between Elmira and Baltimore. After being received at Savannah, they had the best attention possible, yet many died in a few days.” “In carrrying out the exchange of disabled, sick, and wounded men, we delivered at Savannah and Charleston about eleven thousand Federal prisoners, and their physical condition compared most favourably with those we received in exchange, although of course the worst cases among the Confederates had been removed by death during the passage.”

Richard H. Dibrell, a merchant of Richmond, and a member of the “ambulance committee,” whose labors in mitigating the sufferings of the wounded have been acknowledged both by Confederate and Northern men, thus testifies concerning our sick and wounded soldiers at Savannah, returned from Northern prisons and hospitals:

I have never seen a set of men in worse condition. They were so enfeebled and emaciated that we lifted them like little children. Many of them were like living skeletons. Indeed, there was one poor boy, about seventeen years old, who presented the most distressing and deplorable appearance I ever saw. He was nothing but skin and bone, and besides this, he was literally eaten up with vermin. He died in the hospital in a few days after being removed thither, notwithstanding the kindest treatment and the use of the most judicious nourishment. Our men were in so reduced a condition, that on more than one trip up on the short passage of ten miles from the transports to the city, as many as five died. The clothing of the privates was in a wretched state of tatters and filth.

The mortality on the passage from Maryland was very great, as well as that on the passage from the prisons to the port from which they started. I cannot state the exact number, but I think I heard that three thousand five hundred were started, and we only received about three thousand and twenty-seven.

I have looked at the photographs appended to “ Report No. 67 ” of the committee of the Federal Congress, and do not hesitate to declare that several of our men were worse cases of emaciation and sickness than any represented in these photographs.

The testimony of Mr. Dibrell is confirmed by that of Andrew Johnston, also a merchant of Richmond, and a member of the “ambulance committee.”

Thus it appears that the sick and wounded Federal prisoners at Annapolis whose condition has been made a subject of outcry and of widespread complaint by the Northern Congress, were not in a worse state than were the Confederate prisoners returned from Northern hospitals and prisons of which the humanity and superiour management are made subjects of special boasting by the United States Sanitary Commission! In connection with this subject, your committee take pleasure in reporting the facts ascertained by their investigations concerning the Confederate hospitals for sick and / wounded Federal prisoners. They have made personal examination, and have taken evidence [633] specially in relation to “Hospital no. 21,” in Richmond, because this has been made subject of distinct charge in the publication last mentioned. It has been shown, not only by the evidence of the surgeons and their assistants, but by that of Federal prisoners, that the treatment of the Northern prisoners in these hospitals has been everything that humanity could dictate; that their wards have been well ventilated and clean; their food the best that could be procured for them-and in fact, that no distinction had been made between their treatment and that of our own sick and wounded men. Moreover, it is proved that it has been the constant practice to supply to the patients, out of the hospital funds, such articles as milk, butter, eggs, tea, and other delicacies, when they were required by the condition of the patients. This is proved by the testimony of E. P. Dalrymple, of New York, George Henry Brown, of Pennsylvania, and Freeman B Teague, of New Hampshire, whose depositions accompany this report.

This humane and considerate usage was not adopted in the United States hospital on Johnson's Island, where Confederate sick and wounded officers were treated. Col. J. H. Holman thus testifies: “The Federal authorities did not furnish to the sick prisoners the nutriment and other articles which were prescribed by their own surgeons. All they would do was to permit the prisoners to buy the nutriment or stimulants needed; and if they had no money, they could not get them. I know this, for I was in the hospital sick myself, and I had to buy, myself, such articles as eggs, milk, flour, chickens, and butter, after their doctors had prescribed them. And I know this was generally the case, for we had to get up a fund among ourselves for this purpose, to aid those who were not well supplied with money.” This statement is confirmed by the testimony of Acting-Assistant Surgeon John J. Miller, who was at Johnson's Island for more than eight months. When it is remembered that such articles as eggs, milk, and butter were very scarce and high-priced in Richmond, and plentiful and cheap at the North, the contrast thus presented may well put to shame the “Sanitary Commission,” and dissipate the self-complacency with which they have boasted of the superiour humanity in the Northern prisons and hospitals.

Your committee now proceed to notice other charges in these publications. It is said that their prisoners were habitually stripped of blankets and other property, on being captured. What pillage may have been committed on the battle-field, after the excitement of combat, your committee cannot know. But they feel well assured that such pillage was never encouraged by the Confederate generals, and bore no comparison to the wholesale robbery and destruction to which the Federal armies have abandoned themselves, in possessing parts of our territory. It is certain that after the prisoners were brought to the Libby and other prisons in Richmond no such pillage was permitted. Only articles which came properly under the head of munitions of war, were taken from them.

The next charge noticed is, that the guards around the Libby prison were in the habit of recklessly and inhumanly shooting at the prisoners, upon the most frivolous pretexts, and that the Confederate officers, so far from forbidding this, rather encouraged it, and made it a subject of sportive remark. This charge is wholly false and baseless. The “Rules and regulations,” appended to the deposition of Major Thomas P. Turner, expressly provide, “Nor shall any prisoner be fired upon by a sentinel or other person, except in case of revolt or attempted escape.” Five or six cases have occurred in which prisoners have been fired on and killed or hurt; but every case has been made the subject of careful investigation and report, as will appear by the evidence. As a proper comment on this charge, your committee report that the practice of firing on our prisoners by the guards in the Northern prisons appears to have been indulged in to a most brutal and atrocious extent. See the depositions of C. C. Herrington, Wm. F. Gordon, [634] Jr., J. B. McCreary, Dr. Thomas P. Holloway and John P. Fennell. At Fort Delaware, a cruel regulation as to the use of the “sinks,” was made the pretext for firing on and murdering several of our men and officers-among them, Lieut.-Col. Jones, who was lame, and was shot down by the sentinel while helpless and feeble, and while seeking to explain his condition. Yet this sentinel was not only not punished, but was promoted for his act. At Camp Douglas, as many as eighteen of our men are reported to have been shot in a single month. These facts may well produce a conviction in the candid observer, that it is the North and not the South that is open to the charge of deliberately and wilfully destroying the lives of the prisoners held by her.

The next charge is, that the Libby and Belle Isle prisoners were habitually kept in a filthy condition, and that the officers and men confined there were prevented from keeping themselves sufficiently clean to avoid vermin and similar discomforts. The evidence clearly contradicts this charge. It is proved by the depositions of Maj. Turner, Lieut. Bossieux, Rev. Dr. McCabe, and others, that the prisons were kept constantly and systematically policed and cleansed; that in the Libby there was an ample supply of water conducted to each floor by the city pipes, and that the prisoners were not only not restricted in its use, but urged to keep themselves clean. At Belle Isle, for a brief season (about three weeks), in consequence of a sudden increase in the number of prisoners, the police was interrupted, but it was soon restored, and ample means for washing, both themselves and their clothes, were at all times furnished to the prisoners. It is doubtless true, that notwithstanding these facilities, many of the prisoners were lousy and filthy; but it was the result of their own habits, and not of neglect in the discipline or arrangements of the prison. Many of the prisoners were captured and brought in while in this condition. The Federal general, Neal Dow well expressed their character and habits. When he came to distribute clothing among them, he was met by profane abuse, and he said to the Confederate officer in charge, “You have here the scrapings and rakings of Europe.” That such men should be filthy in their habits might be expected.

We next notice the charge that the boxes of provisions and clothing sent to the prisoners from the North, were not delivered to them, and were habitually robbed and plundered, by permission of the Confederate authorities. The evidence satisfies your committee that this charge is, in all substantial points, untrue. For a period of about one month there was a stoppage in the delivery of boxes, caused by a report that the Federal authorities were forbidding the delivery of similar supplies to our prisoners. But the boxes were put in a warehouse, and afterwards delivered. For some time no search was made of boxes from the “Sanitary committee,” intended for the prisoners' hospital. But a letter was intercepted, advising that money should be sent in these boxes, as they were never searched; which money was to be used in bribing the guard, and thus releasing the prisoners. After this, it was deemed necessary to search every box, which necessarily produced some delay. Your committee are satisfied that if these boxes or their contents were robbed, the prison officials are not responsible therefor. Beyond doubt, robberies were often committed by prisoners themselves, to whom the contents were delivered for distribution to their owners. Notwithstanding all this alleged pillage, the supplies seem to have been sufficient to keep the quarters of the prisons so well furnished that they frequently presented, in the language of a witness, “the appearance of a large grocery store.”

In connection with this point, your committee refer to the testimony of a Federal officer, Col. James M. Sanderson, whose letter is annexed to the deposition of Major Turner. He testifies to the full delivery of the clothing and supplies from the North, and to the humanity and kindness of the Confederate officers-specially mentioning Lieut. Bossieux, commanding on Belle Isle. His letter was addressed to the President [635] of the United States Sanitary Commission, and was beyond doubt received by them, having been forwarded by the regular flag of truce. Yet the scrupulous and honest gentlemen composing that commission, have not found it convenient for their purposes to insert this letter in their publication! Had they been really searching for the truth, this letter would have aided them in finding it.

Your committee proceed next to notice the allegation that the Confederate authorities had prepared a mine under the Libby prison, and placed in it a quantity of gunpowder for the purpose of blowing up the buildings with their inmates, in case of an attempt to rescue them. After ascertaining all the facts bearing on this subject, your committee believe that what was done under the circumstances, will meet a verdict of approval from all whose prejudices do not blind them to the truth. The state of things was unprecedented in history, and must be judged of according to the motives at work, and the result accomplished. A large body of Northern raiders, under one Col. Dahlgren, was approaching Richmond. It was ascertained, by the reports of prisoners captured from them, and other evidence, that their design was to enter the city, to set fire to the buildings, public and private, for which purpose turpentine balls in great number had been prepared; to murder the President of the Confederate States, and other prominent men; to release the prisoners of war, then numbering five or six thousand; to put arms into their hands, and to turn over the city to indiscriminate pillage, rape, and slaughter. At the same time a plot was discovered among the prisoners to co-operate in this scheme, and a large number of knives and slung-shot (made by putting stones into woollen stockings) were detected in places of concealment about their quarters. To defeat a plan so diabolical, assuredly the sternest means were justified. If it would have been right to put to death any one prisoner attempting to escape under such circumstances, it seems logically certain that it would have been equally right to put to death any number making such attempt. But in truth the means adopted were those of humanity and prevention, rather than of execution. The Confederate authorities felt able to meet and repulse Dahlgren and his raiders, if they could prevent the escape of the prisoners.

The real object was to save their lives, as well as those of our citizens. The guard force at the prisons was small, and all the local troops in and around Richmond were needed to meet the threatened attack. Had the prisoners escaped, the women and children of the city, as well as their homes, would have been at the mercy of five thousand outlaws. Humanity required that the most summary measures should be used to deter them from any attempt at escape.

A mine was prepared under the Libby prison; a sufficient quantity of gunpowder was put into it, and pains were taken to inform the prisoners that any attempt at escape made by them would be effectually defeated. The plan succeeded perfectly. The prisoners were awed and kept quiet. Dahlgren and his party were defeated and scattered. The danger passed away, and in a few weeks the gunpowder was removed. Such are the facts. Your committee do not hesitate to make them known, feeling assured that the conscience of the enlightened world and the great law of self-preservation will justify all that was done by our country and her officers.

We now proceed to notice, under one head, the last and gravest charge made in these publications. They assert that the Northern prisoners in the hands of the Confederate authorities have been starved, frozen, inhumanly punished, often confined in foul and loathsome quarters, deprived of fresh air and exercise, and neglected and maltreated in sickness-and that all this was done upon a deliberate, wilful, and long-conceived plan of the Confederate Government and officers, for the purpose of destroying the lives of these prisoners, or of rendering them forever incapable of military service. This charge accuses the Southern Government of a crime so horrible and unnatural that it could [636] never have been made except by those ready to blacken with slander men whom they have long injured and hated. Your committee feel bound to reply to it calmly but emphatically. They pronounce it false in fact, and in design; false in the basis on which it assumes to rest, and false in its estimate of the motives which have controlled the Southern authorities.

At an early period in the present contest the Confederate Government recognized their obligation to treat prisoners of war with humanity and consideration. Before any laws were passed on the subject, the Executive Department provided such prisoners as fell into their hands, with proper quarters and barracks to shelter them, and with rations the same in quantity and quality as those furnished to the Confederate soldiers who guarded these prisoners. They also showed an earnest wish to mitigate the sad condition of prisoners of war, by a system of fair and prompt exchange-and the Confederate Congress co-operated in these humane views. By their act, approved on the 21st day of May, 1861, they provided that “all prisoners of war taken, whether on land or at sea, during the pending hostilities with the United States, shall be transferred by the captors from time to time, and as often as convenient, to the Department of War; and it shall be the duty of the Secretary of War, with the approval of the President, to issue such instructions to the Quartermaster-General and his subordinates, as shall provide for the safe custody and sustenance of prisoners of war; and the rations furnished prisoners of war shall be the same in quantity and quality as those furnished to enlisted men in the Army of the Confederacy.” Such were the declared purpose and policy of the Confederate Government towards prisoners of war-amid all the privations and losses to which their enemies have subjected them, they have sought to carry them into effect.

Our investigations for this preliminary report have been confined chiefly to the rations and treatment of the prisoners of war at the Libby and other prisons in Richmond and on Belle Isle. This we have done, because the publications to which we have alluded chiefly refer to them, and because the “Report no. 67” of the Northern Congress plainly intimates the belief that the treatment in and around Richmond was worse than it was farther South. That report says: “It will be observed from the testimony that all the witnesses who testify upon that point state that the treatment they received while confined at Columbia, South Carolina, Dalton, Georgia, and other places, was far more humane than that they received at Richmond, where the authorities of the so-called Confederacy were congregated,” Report, p. 3.

The evidence proves that the rations furnished to prisoners of war in Richmond and on Belle Isle, have been never less than those furnished to the Confederate soldiers who guarded them, and have at some seasons been larger in quantity and better in quality than those furnished to Confederate troops in the field. This has been because, until February, 1864, the Quartermaster's Department furnished the prisoners, and often had provisions or funds, when the Commissary Department was not so well provided. Once and only once, for a few weeks, the prisoners were without meat, but a larger quantity of bread and vegetable food was in consequence supplied to them. How often the gallant men composing the Confederate Army, have been without meat, for even longer intervals, your committee do not deem it necessary to say. Not less than sixteen ounces of bread and four ounces of bacon, or six ounces of beef, together with beans and soup, have been furnished per day to the prisoners. During most of the time the quantity of meat furnished to them has been greater than these amounts; and even in times of the greatest scarcity, they have received as much as the Southern soldiers who guarded them. The scarcity of meat and of breadstuffs in the South, in certain places, has been the result of the savage policy of our enemies in burning barns filled with wheat or corn, destroying agricultural implements, and driving off or wantonly butchering hogs and [637] cattle. Yet amid all these privations, we have given to their prisoners the rations above mentioned. It is well known that this quantity of food is sufficient to keep in health a man who does not labour hard. All the learned disquisitions of Dr. Ellerslie Wallace on the subject of starvation, might have been spared, for they are all founded on a false basis. It will be observed that few (if any) of the witnesses examined by the Sanitary Commission speak with any accuracy of the quantity (in weight) of the food actually furnished to them. Their statements are merely conjectural and comparative, and cannot weigh against the positive testimony of those who superintended the delivery of large quantities of food, cooked and distributed according to a fixed ratio, for the number of men to be fed.

The statements of the Sanitary Commission as to prisoners freezing to death on Belle Isle, are absurdly false. According to that statement, it was common, during a cold spell in winter, to see several prisoners frozen to death every morning in the places in which they had slept. This picture, if correct, might well excite our horrour; but unhappily for its sensational power, it is but a clumsy daub, founded on the fancy of the painter. The facts are, that tents were furnished sufficient to shelter all the prisoners; that the Confederate commandant and soldiers on the Island were lodged in similar tents; that a fire was furnished in each of them; that the prisoners fared as well as their guards; and that only one of them was ever frozen to death, and he was frozen by the cruelty of his own fellow-prisoners, who thrust him out of the tent in a freezing night, because he was infested with vermin. The proof as to the healthiness of the prisoners on Belle Isle, and the small amount of mortality, is remarkable, and presents a fit comment on the lugubrious pictures drawn by the “Sanitary Commission,” either from their own fancies, or from the fictions put forth by their false witnesses. Lieut. Bossieux proves that from the establishment of the prison camp on Belle Isle in June, 1862, to the 10th of February, 1865, more than twenty thousand prisoners had been at various times there received, and yet that the whole number of deaths during this time, was only one hundred and sixty-four. And this is confirmed by the Federal colonel, Sanderson, who states that the average number of deaths per month on Belle Isle, was “from two to five; more frequently the lesser number.” The sick were promptly removed from the Island to the hospitals in the city.

Doubtless the Sanitary Commission have been to some extent led astray by their own witnesses, whose character has been portrayed by Gen. Neal Dow, and also by the editor of the New York Times, who, in his issue of January 6th, 1865, describes the material for recruiting the Federal army as “wretched vagabonds, of depraved morals, decrepit in body, without courage, self-respect, or conscience. They are dirty, disorderly, thievish, and incapable.”

In reviewing the charges of cruelty, harshness, and starvation to prisoners made by the North, your committee have taken testimony as to the treatment of our own officers and soldiers, in the hands of the enemy. It gives us no pleasure to be compelled to speak of the suffering inflicted upon our gallant men; but the self-laudatory style in which the Sanitary Commission have spoken of their prisons, makes it proper that the truth should be presented. Your committee gladly acknowledge that in many cases our prisoners experienced kind and considerate treatment; but we are equally assured that in nearly all the prison stations of the North-at Point Lookout, Fort McHenry, Fort Delaware, Johnson's Island, Elmira, Camp Chase, Camp Douglas, Alton, Camp Morton, the Ohio Penitentiary and the prisons of St. Louis, Missouri, our men have suffered from insufficient food, and have been subjected to ignominious, cruel, and barbarous practices, of which there is no parallel in anything that has occurred in the South. The witnesses who were at Point Lookout, Fort Delaware. Camp Morton and [638] Camp Douglas, testify that they have often seen our men picking up the scraps and refuse thrown out from the kitchens, with which to appease their hunger. Dr. Herrington proves that at Fort Delaware unwholesome bread and water produced diarrhea in numberless cases among our prisoners, and that “their sufferings were greatly aggravated by the regulation of the camp, which forbade more than twenty men at a time at night to go to the sinks. I have seen as many as five hundred men in a row waiting their time. The consequence was that they were obliged to use the places where they were. This produced great want of cleanliness, and aggravated the disease.” Our men were compelled to labour in unloading Federal vessels and in putting up buildings for Federal officers, and, if they refused, were driven to the work with clubs.

The treatment of Brig.-Gen. J. H. Morgan and his officers was brutal and ignominious in the extreme. It will be found stated in the depositions of Capt. M. D. Logan, Lieut. W. P. Crow, Lieut.-Col. James B. McCreary, and Capt. B. A. Tracey, that they were put in the Ohio Penitentiary, and compelled to submit to the treatment of felons. Their beards were shaved, and their hair was cut close to the head. They were confined in convicts' cells, and forbidden to speak to each other. For attempts to escape, and for other offences of a very light character, they were subjected to the horrible punishment of the dungeon. In midwinter, with the atmosphere many degrees below zero, without blanket or overcoat, they were confined in a cell, without fire or light, with a fetid and poisonous air to breathe-and here they were kept until life was nearly extinct. Their condition on coming out, was so deplorable as to draw tears from their comrades. The blood was oozing from their hands and faces. The treatment in the St. Louis prison was equally barbarous. Capt. William H. Sebring testifies: “Two of us, A. C. Grimes and myself, were carried out into the open air in the prison yard, on the 25th of December, 1863, and handcuffed to a post. Here we were kept all night in sleet, snow, and cold. We were relieved in the day-time, but again brought to the post and handcuffed to it in the evening-and thus we were kept all night until the 2d of January, 1864. I was badly frost-bitten and my health was much impaired. This cruel infliction was done by order of Capt. Byrnes, Commandant of Prisons in St. Louis. He was barbarous and insulting to the last degree.”

But even a greater inhumanity than any we have mentioned was perpetrated upon our prisoners at Camp Douglas and Camp Chase. It is proved by the testimony of Thomas P. Holloway, John P. Fennell, H. H. Barlow, H. C. Barton, C. D. Bracken, and J. S. Barlow, that our prisoners in large numbers were put into “condemned camps,” where small-pox was prevailing, and speedily contracted this loathsome disease, and that as many as forty new cases often appeared daily among them. Even the Federal officers who guarded them to the camp protested against this unnatural atrocity: yet it was done. The men who contracted the disease were removed to a hospital about a mile off, but the plague was already introduced, and continued to prevail. For a period of more than twelve months the disease was constantly in the camp, yet our prisoners during all this time were continually brought to it, and subjected to certain infection. Neither do we find evidences of amendment on the part of our enemies, notwithstanding the boasts of the “sanitary commission.” At Nashville, prisoners recently captured from General Hood's army, even when sick and wounded, have been cruelly deprived of all nourishment suited to their condition; and other prisoners from he same army have been carried into the infected Camps Douglas and Chase.

Many of the soldiers of General Hood's army were frost-bitten by being kept day and night in an exposed condition before they were put into Camp Douglas. Their sufferings are truthfully depicted in the evidence. At Alton and Camp Morton the same Inhuman practice of putting our prisoners into camps infected by small-pox, prevailed. [639] It was equivalent to murdering many of them by the torture of a contagious disease. The insufficient rations at Camp Morton forced our men to appease their hunger by pounding up and boiling bones, picking up scraps of meat and cabbage from the hospital slop tubs, and even eating rats and dogs. The depositions of Win. Ayres and J. Chambers Brent prove these privations.

The punishments often inflicted on our men for slight offences, have been shameful and barbarous. They have been compelled to ride a plank only four inches wide, called “Morgan's horse;” to sit down with their naked bodies in the snow for ten or fifteen minutes, and have been subjected to the ignominy of stripes from the belts of their guards. The pretext has been used, that many of their acts of cruelty have been by way of retaliation. But no evidence has been found to prove such acts on the part of the Confederate authorities. It is remarkable that in the case of Colonel Streight and his officers, they were subjected only to the ordinary confinement of prisoners of war. No special punishment was used except for specific offences; and then the greatest infliction was to confine Colonel Streight for a few weeks in a basement room of the Libby prison, with a window, a plank floor, a stove, a fire, and plenty of fuel.

We do not deem it necessary to dwell further on these subjects. Enough has been proved to show that great privations and sufferings have been borne by the prisoners on both sides.


Why have not prisoners of war been exchanged?

But the question forces itself upon us, why have these sufferings been so long continued? Why have not the prisoners of war been exchanged, and thus some of the darkest pages of history spared to the world? In the answer to this question must be found the test of responsibility for all the sufferings, sickness and heart-broken sorrow that have visited more than eighty thousand prisoners within the past two years. On this question, your committee can only say that the Confederate authorities have always desired a prompt and fair exchange of prisoners. Even before the establishment of a cartel they urged such exchange, but could never effect it by agreement until the large preponderance of prisoners in our hands made it the interest of the Federal authorities to consent to the cartel of July 22d, 1862. The 9th article of that agreement expressly provided, that in case any misunderstanding should arise, it should not interrupt the release of prisoners on parole, but should be made the subject of friendly explanation. Soon after this cartel was established, the policy of the enemy in seducing negro slaves from their masters, arming them and putting white officers over them to lead them against us., gave rise to a few cases in which questions of crime under the internal laws of the Southern States appeared. Whether men who encouraged insurrection and murder could be held entitled to the privileges of prisoners of war under the cartel, was a grave question. But these cases were few in number, and ought never to have interrupted the general exchange. We were always ready and anxious to carry out the cartel in its true meaning, and it is certain that the 9th article required that the prisoners on both sides should be released, and that the few cases as to which misunderstanding occurred should be left for final decision. Doubtless if the preponderance of prisoners had continued with us, exchanges would have continued. But the fortunes of war threw the larger number into the hands of our enemies. Then they refused further exchanges, and for twenty-two months this policy has continued. Our Commissioner of Exchange has made constant efforts to renew them. In August, 1864, he consented to a proposition which had been repeatedly trade, to exchange officer for officer and man for man, leaving [640] the surplus in captivity. Though this was a departure from the cartel, our anxiety for the exchange induced us to consent. Yet, the Federal authorities repudiated their previous offer, and refused even this partial compliance with the cartel. Secretary Stanton, who has unjustly charged the Confederate authorities with inhumanity, is open to the charge of having done all in his power to prevent a fair exchange, and thus to prolong the sufferings of which he speaks; and very recently, in a letter over his signature, Benjamin F Butler has declared that in April, 1864, the Federal Lieut.-Gen. Grant forbade him “to deliver to the rebels a single able-bodied man ;” and moreover, Gen. Butler acknowledges that in answer to Col. Ould's letter consenting to the exchange, officer for officer and man for man, he wrote a reply, “not diplomatically but obtrusively and demonstratively, not for the purpose of furthering exchange of prisoners, but for the purpose of preventing and stopping the exchange, and furnishing a ground on which we could fairly stand.”

These facts abundantly show that the responsibility of refusing to exchange prisoners of war rests with the Government of the United States, and the people who have sustained that Government, and every sigh of captivity, every groan of suffering, every heart broken by hope deferred among these eighty thousand prisoners, will accuse them in the judgment of the just.

With regard to the prison stations at Andersonville, Salisbury, and other places south of Richmond, your committee have not made extended examination, for reasons which have already been stated. We are satisfied that privation, suffering and mortality, to an extent much to be regretted, did prevail among the prisoners there, but they were not the result of neglect, still less of design, on the part of the Confederate Government. Haste in preparation; crowded quarters, prepared only for a smaller number; frequent removals to prevent recapture; want of transportation and scarcity of food, have all resulted from the pressure of the war, and the barbarous manner in which it has been conducted by our enemies. Upon these subjects your committee propose to take further evidence, and to report more fully hereafter.

But even now enough is known to vindicate the South, and to furnish an overwhelming answer to all complaints on the part of the U. S. Government or people, that their prisoners were stinted in food or supplies. Their own savage warfare has wrought all the evil. They have blockaded our ports; have excluded from us food, clothing and medicines; have even declared medicines contraband of war, and have repeatedly destroyed the contents of drug stores, and the supplies of private physicians in the country; have ravaged our country; burned our houses, and destroyed growing crops and farming implements. One of their officers (General Sheridan) has boasted in his official report, that, in the Shenandoah Valley alone, he burned two thousand barns filled with wheat and corn; that he burned all the mills in the whole tract of country; destroyed all the factories of cloth, and killed or drove off every animal, even to the poultry, that could contribute to human sustenance. These desolations have been repeated again and again in different parts of the South. Thousands of our families have been driven from their homes, as helpless and destitute refugees. Our enemies have destroyed the railroads and other means of transportation, by which food could be supplied from abundant districts to those without it. While thus desolating our country, in violation of the usages of civilized warfare, they have refused to exchange prisoners; have forced us to keep fifty thousand of their men in captivity-and yet have attempted to attribute to us the sufferings and privations caused by their own acts. We cannot doubt that in the view of civilization we shall stand acquitted, while they must be condemned.

In concluding this preliminary report, we will notice the strange perversity of interpretation which has induced the Sanitary Commission to affix as a motto to their pamphlet, the words of the compassionate Redeemer of mankind:

For I was anhungered and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty and ye gave me no [641] drink: I was a stranger and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick and in prison and ye visited me not.

We have yet to learn on what principle the Federal soldiers sent with arms in their hands to destroy the lives of our people; to waste our land, burn our houses and barns, and drive us from our homes, can be regarded by us as the followers of the meek and lowly Redeemer, so as to claim the benefit of his words. Yet even these soldiers, when taken captive by us, have been treated with proper humanity. The cruelties inflicted on our prisoners at the North may well justify us in applying to the Sanitary Commission the stern words of the Divine Teacher: “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.”

We believe that there are many thousands of just, honourable, and humane people in the United States, upon whom this subject, thus presented, will not be lost; that they will do all they can to mitigate the horrours of war; to complete the exchange of prisoners, now happily in progress, and to prevent the recurrence of such sufferings as have been narrated. And we repeat the words of the Confederate Congress, in their Manifesto of the 14th of June, 1864: “We commit our cause to the enlightened judgment of the world; to the sober reflections of our adversaries themselves, and to the solemn and righteous arbitrament of Heaven.”

The general important fact of this report is, the declaration of the result of sworn investigations to the effect that from the necessity of the case, Federal prisoners suffered considerably in the South, but were not, unless exceptionally, treated with indignity, oppression or cruelty; and that the general rule was the other way as to our prisoners at the North--that the rule there was indignity, oppression and cruelty, and threatened, if not attempted, starvation in the midst of plenty. Where this fearful penalty was held over the victim was not in a land where the invader had proclaimed and carried out the policy of destroying every grain of wheat, and every ounce of meat, and everything that tended to its production; not in a land whose women and children were already perishing for bread, but starvation in a land that flowed with milk and honey, starvation in a land that had not only an abundance, but a superabundance even of the luxuries of life!1 [642]

To the exposition made by the Richmond Congress of the humane endeavours of the Confederacy, with respect to prisoners of the war, there is yet an addition to be made. Impressed with the exaggerations of the newspapers on this subject, and desiring to secure the publication of the truth from time to time, Commissioner Ould, in January, 1864, wrote to Gen. Hitchcock the following letter:

Sir: In view of the present difficulties attending the exchange and release of prisoners, I propose that all such on each side shall be attended by a proper number of their own surgeons, who under rules to be established, shall be permitted to take charge of their health and comfort. I also propose that these surgeons shall act as commissaries, with power to receive and distribute such contributions of money, food, clothing and medicines as may be forwarded for the relief of the prisoners. I further propose that these surgeons shall be selected by their own Government, and that they shall have full liberty at any and all times through the Agents of Exchange, to make reports not only of their own acts, but of any matters relating to the welfare of the prisoners.

Respectfully your obedient servant, Ro. Ould, Agent of Exchange.

To this letter Commissioner Ould received no reply. In January, 1865, the proposition was renewed to Gen. Grant, with the following remarks: “It is true your prisoners are suffering. It is one of the calamities and [643] necessities of the war, made so not by our choice. We have done everything we can consistently with the duty we owe to ourselves. We intend to do the same in the future. But that great suffering must ensue if your prisoners remain in our hands, is very certain. For that reason, I propose that all of them be delivered to you in exchange, man for man, and officer for officer, according to grade, for those of ours whom you hold. Will not the cause of humanity be far more promoted by such a course, even if, as you suggest, the friends of prisoners, both North and South, are satisfied of the exaggeration of the reports of suffering so rife in both sections? If, however, prisoners are to remain in confinement, at least, let us mutually send to their relief and comfort stationary agents, whose official duty requires them to devote all their time and labour to their sacred mission.”

Gen. Grant did not reply. Perhaps he thought matters were too near the end to entertain any new negotiations on the subject referred to. However this may be, whatever was to be the catastrophe, the conclusion is simply stated: it was to leave the Confederacy with a complete record of justice, a testimony of humanity, on the whole subject of the exchange and treatment of prisoners, which must ever remain among the noblest honours and surest souvenirs of a lost cause.

1 The author might make, from various memoranda he has personally collected of the experiences of Confederate prisoners, a very vast addition to the instances of suffering collected by the committee at Richmond. The following will suffice for examples. A Confederate officer, whose experience was at Johnson's Island, writes:

No sugar, no coffee, no tea; only bread and salt beef, or salt pork, or salt fish, the latter as poor as poverty, and as unnutritious as pine shavings, varied occasionally with fresh beef, but never more than two-thirds enough of either. Occasionally, we would get one onion, or one potato each, and an ounce or so of hominy. Many would consume the whole at one meal; others thought it more wise to divide it into two or three meals; but all were hungry continually. Sir, it is a terrible thing to be hungry from day to day, from week to week, from month to month — to be always hungry I It is fearful to see three thousand men cooped up and undergoing such an ordeal! Should it be a matter of surprise that men dwindled from 200 to 140 and 100 pounds; that their eyes had a strange and eager expression; that they grew pale, cadaverous; that they walked with an unsteady gait; that all talked continually of “ something to eat ” --of the good dinner, or breakfast, or supper they had had at times and places that seemed very long ago, and very far off; that they slept but to dream of sitting down to tables groaning with rich viands, where they ate, and ate, and still could not be satisfied; that with miserly care they picked up every crumb; that they pounded up old bones, and boiled them over and over, until they were as white as the driven snow; that they fished in the swill-barrel at the prison hospital; that they greedily devoured rats and cats; that they resorted to all manner of devices and tricks to cheat the surgeon out of a certificate; that they became melancholy and dejected; that they fell an easy prey to disease and death! Ah! there is many a poor fellow in his grave on Johnson's Island to-day, who would not be there had he been allowed wholesome food and enough of it.

A personal friend of the author gives a long and painfully interesting account of his experience in a trans-shipment of prisoners from Hilton Head to Fort Delaware, the terrible facts of which rival all that is known of the horrours of the “middle passage.” Of 420 prisoners shipped by sea, only sixty-two could walk when the vessel arrived at Fort Delaware; the others were all down with sickness and exhaustion, and had to be taken to their cells on stretchers and ambulances. Many of them had lost their teeth by scurvy, and many were blind from disease. For months they had been subsisted on eight ounces of corn meal (ground in 1860) and one ounce of pickle (vitriol and salt), as a substitute for sorghum. Their rations were improved for a little while at Fort Delaware. But the regulations for cooking there allotted for such purpose to a company of 100 men every twenty-four hours, a log, 10 feet long and eight inches in diameter. There were no cooking utensils. Old pieces of tin were used over the fire. The men were locked up eighteen out of twenty-four hours, and only twenty at a time were allowed to pass out for the offices of nature.

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