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The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

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OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 2, vol 7, Part 1 (Prisoners of War)
Page 1010 PRISONERS OF WAR AND STATE, ETC.

effect. The necessary details will be submitted to you through Colonel Mulford for agreement. In order to simplify the matter and to remove, as far as possible, causes of complaint, I suggest that the articles sent by either party should be confined to those necessary for the comfort and health of the prisoners, and that the officer selected from among them to receive and distribute the articles should be given only such a parole while so engaged as to afford him the necessary facilities to attend properly to the matter.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R. E. LEE,

General.


HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
October 19, 1864.

Lieutenant General U. S. GRANT, Commanding U. S. Armies:

GENERAL: In accordance with instructions from the Honorable Secretary of War of the Confederate States I have the honor to call your attention to the subject of two communications recently addressed by Major General B. F. Butler, an officer under your command, to the Honorable Robert Ould, commissioner for the exchange of prisoners.

For the better understanding of the matter I inclose copies of the communications. You will perceive by one of them that the writer has placed a number of officers and men belonging to the Confederate service, prisoners of war, captured by the U. S. forces, at labor in the canal at Dutch Gap, in retaliation, as is alleged, for a like number of Federal colored soldiers, prisoners of war in our hands, who are said to have been put to work on our fortifications. The evidence of this fact is found in the affidavits of two deserters from our service.

The other letter refers to a copy of a notice issued by a Confederate officer, commanding a camp near Richmond, calling upon the owners to come forward and establish their claims to certain negroes in the custody of that officer. The writer of the letter proceeds to state that some of the negroes mentioned in the notice are believed to be soldiers of the U. S. Army, captured in arms, and that upon that belief he has ordered to such manual labor as he deems most fitting to meet the exigency an equal number of prisoners of war held by the United States, and announces that he will continue to order to labor captives in war to a number equal to that of all the U. S. soldiers who he has reason to believe are held to service or labor by the Confederate forces until he shall be notified that the alleged practice on the part of the Confederate authorities has ceased.

Before stating the facts with reference to the particular negroes alluded to, I beg leave to explain the policy pursued by the Confederate Government toward this class of persons when captured by its forces.

All negroes in the military or naval service of the United States taken by us who are not identified as the property of citizens or residents of any of the Confederate States are regarded as prisoners of war, being held to be proper subjects of exchange, as I recently had the honor to inform you. No labor is exacted from such prisoners by the Confederate authorities.

Negroes who owe service or labor to citizens or residents of the Confederate States, and who through compulsion, persuasion, or of their own accord, leave their owners and are placed in the military or naval service of the United States, occupy a different position. The right to


Page 1010 PRISONERS OF WAR AND STATE, ETC.
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 2, vol 7, Part 1 (Prisoners of War)
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