We have received a copy of a Northern paper containing, in full, the speech of General Butler
It fills five columns, printed in very small type.--There is a good deal of information in it which will be entirely new in the Confederate States
We give some extracts from it:
The exchange of prisoners — Grant responsible for stopping it.
emphatically denies having, at any time, stopped the exchange of prisoners.
He says that he and Colonel Ould
, in March last, arranged an exchange, man for man, the latter refusing to give up negro slaves captured in arms, and Butler
determining to keep back a sufficient number of Confederates to balance that point.
I reported the points of agreement between myself and the rebel agent to the Secretary of War
, and asked for power to adjust the other questions of difference so as to have the question of enslaving negro soldiers stand alone, to be dealt with by itself, and that the whole power of the United States
should be exerted to do justice to those who had fought the battles of the country and been captured in its service.
The whole subject was referred by the Secretary of War
to the Lieutenant General
commanding, who telegraphed me on the 14th of April, 1864, in substance: "Break off all negotiations on the subject of exchange till further orders." And therefore all negotiations were broken off, save that a special exchange of sick and wounded on either side went on.
On the 20th of April I received an other telegram from General Grant
, ordering not another man be given to the rebels
. To that I answered, on the same day; "Lieutenant General Grant
's instructions shall be implicitly obeyed.
I assume that you do not mean to stop the special exchange of the sick and wounded now going on." To this I received a reply, in substance: "Do not give the rebels a single able bodied man." From that hour, so long as I remained in the department, exchanges of prisoners stopped under that order, because I could not give the rebels any of their able-bodied soldiers in exchange.
By sending the sick and wounded forward, however, some twelve thousand of our suffering soldiers were relieved, being upwards of eight thousand; more than we gave the rebels.
In August last, Mr. Ould
, finding negotiations were broken off, and that no exchanges were made, wrote to General Hitchcock
, the commissioner, at Washington
, that the rebels were ready to exchange, man for man, all the prisoners held by them, as I had proposed in December.
Under the instructions of the Lieutenant-General
, I wrote to Mr. Ould
a letter, which has been published, saying:
"Do you mean all?
Do you mean to give up all your action, and revoke all your laws about black men employed as soldiers?" These questions were therein argued justly, as I think; not diplomatically, but obtrusively and demonstratively; not for the purpose of furthering the exchange of prisoners, but for the purpose of preventing and stopping the exchange, and furnishing a ground on which we could fairly stand.
I am now at liberty to state these facts, because they appear in the correspondence on the subject of exchange now on the public files of Congress, furnished by the War Department upon resolution.
I am not at liberty to state my opinion as to the correctness and propriety of this course of action of the Lieutenant-General
in relation to exchanges, because, as it is not proper to utter a word of condemnation of any act of my superiors, I may not even applaud where I think them right, lest not applauding in other instances, such acts as I may mention, would imply censure.
I only desire that the responsibility of stopping exchanges of prisoners, be it wise or unwise, should rest upon the Lieutenant General
commanding, and not upon me. I have carried the weight of so grave a matter for nine months, and now propose, as the facts are laid before Congress and the country, not to carry any longer any more of it than belongs to me.
Since I wrote my farewell address to the Army of the James, I have received letters from the far West
, saying: "Why do you claim that you have not uselessly sacrificed the lives of your men, when you have left thousands of our brothers and sons to starve and rot in Southern prisons"? In answer to all such appeals I am allowed only to repeat: " I have not uselessly sacrificed the lives of the soldiers of the Union
; their blood does not stain my garments" This is not criticism upon the acts of anybody, but only the enunciation of a fact, in explanation of which the responsibilities of my position will not allow me to say more.
The campaign against Petersburg — Grants intention to Strike James river above Richmond.
On the first of April last, two large armies lay face to face, opposed to each other, on the Rapid Ann
. A small army of about eighteen thousand men, six thousand of whom were negroes, lay in and around Fortress Monroe
. Twenty thousand men more were ordered from the Department of the South to join that little army.
Looking over the whole field, it seemed to me to be the part of wisdom to move that army upon Bermuda Hundred
, establishing there a base for operation as strong and as easily defended as Fortress Monroe
; a base not to be interfered with or lost while the war lasts, and where an army lies with its hand fastened upon the throat of the rebel capital.
[Great cheering.] This proposition was submitted to General Grant
and approved by him. This was done.
On the 4th day of May the Army of the James, thirty-five thousand strong, with its artillery, its cavalry, and its supplies for thirty days, was put on board ship, and seemed at first to threaten the enemy up the York river
, within thirty miles of their capital; but within twenty- four hours that army was within twelve miles of Richmond
, where it has held its position ever since — a position to which it advanced without the shedding of a drop of blood.
On the same day, the Army of the Potomac, under the command of General Meade
, more than an hundred thousand strong, started from the Rapid Ann
, also toward Richmond
I need not repeat what you all know of the history of the march of that army; but I have a right to say, because now it has passed into history, that the intention with which that army set out upon its march was to move round the north side of Richmond
, above Mechanicville, strike the James river above
the city of Richmond
, and there forming a junction with the Army of the James, which was to move up towards Richmond
on the south side of the James river
, get around the city on the south side, and thus cut it off.
Now, perhaps, you can understand what may have slightly puzzled you heretofore, why the Army of the James was demonstrating towards Drowry's Bluff on the sixteenth of May, while the Army of the Potomac was coming down from the Rapid Ann
, on the north side, towards Richmond
But the Army of the Potomac never reached its destination on the north side of the James
; nor did the Army of the James succeed in reaching the James
, above Richmond
, on the south side.
Indeed, there was no call for the Army of the James above Richmond
, if the Army of the Potomac could not join it; but if the Army of the James failed to accomplish all that it hoped for it, at least it met with no disaster.
We hold the lines that we took up, from the Appomattox
to the James
, and we hold them to this day — the advanced lines of all the armies operating against Richmond
[Renewed applause.] Besides doing this, after fortifying our position, the Army of the James sent seventeen thousand men to the aid of the Army of the Potomac, and saved the battle of Cold Harbor
Pass with me now to the next movement of the Army of the James--the attempt to take Petersburg
, on the 9th of June. Upon that occasion the orders of its commander were not obeyed, and the projected assault on Petersburg
was not made.
But, you will observe, if there was failure, there was no disaster.
On the 15th of June the column of the Army of the James having returned from the relief of the Army of the Potomac, another movement on Petersburg
took place, which resulted in the capture of the outer, and, at that time, only line of defensive works around Petersburg
, which works, held by the Army of the James, are the advanced lines of the armies operating upon Petersburg
to this day. The strongest of these works was captured by a skirmish line of negro soldiers; and no troops have advanced a step beyond their position in that direction after seven months of siege.
On the 29th of September, the Army of the James crossed the river in two columns--one at Varina
, the other at Deep Bottom
. One attacked Battery Harrison, the skirmish line being gallantly led by a Lowell boy, Colonel Donahoe
, who fell wounded.
That column captured Battery Harrison, the strongest work of the rebels in their sixty miles of entrenchments around Richmond
On the same day, crossing at Deep Bottom
, the Tenth corps, under the lamented Birney
, advanced its negro division, three thousand strong, in column of division, with muskets "right shoulder shift," with not a cap on a single cone of a gun, charged through a swamp, over a breastwork covered by double lines of abattis, like a flash, in the face of eight hundred rebels, who never stopped running for five miles. --[Laughter and cheers.] The question as to whether the negro would fight was there settled before the eyes of every doubter in the army; and their masters from that time forward asked not the question. "Will the negroes fight?" but "Will they fight for us?"
I have thus enumerated all the assaults that were ordered by the commander of the Army of the James--one against a strong but illy-defended work.
, and another against a very strong and well-defended work, the assault made by negroes, ordered for the high and noble purpose of demonstrating forever the capabilities of a race in arms resting under every prejudice.
Some complimentary Notices for other Yankee Generals and a Closing shot for Grant.
I understand that there are those who were among my old friends in polities, but who, unfortunately, have lately got upon the other side, who sneer at me as the "hero of Big Bethel and Fort Fisher
." I accept the title.
They do me honor overmuch.
What was Big Bethel?
It was a skirmish, in which twenty-five men were killed and wounded.
But Big Bethel was not Bull Run
; Big Bethel was not Fair Oaks
; Big Bethel was not Seven Pines
; Big Bethel was not the Chickahominy
Big Bethel was a failure; but it was no disaster.
No West Point
general commanded there.
I claim credit for this: that when we, of the volunteer army of the United States, make failures, we do not make disasters.
Stop a moment and compare the battles I have named with Big Bethel.
Why, at these there were more men slaughtered and homes made desolate than there were leaves on the trees in the forest around Big Bethel — not to be numbered.
But I am the hero of Fort Fisher
, too. Well, Fort Fisher
was not Fredericksburg
; Fort Fisher
was not Chancellorsville
; Fort Fisher
was not the Wilderness
; Fort Fisher
was not Cold Harbor.
A volunteer general commanded at Fort Fisher
at each attack; one was without result, but no disaster; the last was a success — all honor to General Terry
and his brave volunteer soldiers.
Again, it is charged upon us that we did not make so big a hole in the Dutch Gap canal
as we ought to have made.
It may be that we did not — although Dutch Gap canal
was a success — make so large a hole there as was made by the explosion of the mine at Petersburg
last summer; but, thank God, neither did we fill uselessly that hole up with American dead until it ran blood.
[Renewed applause.] I am, therefore, content, nay, I claim to be the hero of the comparatively bloodless attacks on Big Bethel and wholly bloodless failure of Fort Fisher
; and I do not claim to be the hero of Fredericksburg
, of the Chickahominy
, of Fair Oaks
, of the Wilderness
, of Cold Harbor, nor of that charnel-house of useless dead in the mine before Petersburg
I am prepared to take the issue; and hereafter, fellow-citizens, when you hear me to that little enclosure on the other side of the river, which I hope for as my last resting-place, I pray you put over me for my epitaph: Here lies the general who saved the lives of his soldiers at Big Bethel and Fort Fisher
, and who never commanded the Army of the Potomac.
I ask for nothing else.