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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 6, Part 1 (Prisoners of War)
Page 695 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. - UNION AND CONFEDERATE.

manner in which the exchange was made and the authority by which it was declared:

RICHMOND, December 10, 1863.

Lieutenant-General POLK, Enterprise;

The exchange was declared by our Government on a construction of the rights under the cartel, and not in consequence of any agreement with the Federal agent of exchange. That construction by the Confederate authorities in conclusive on its officers and soldiers. The right is based both on the cartel and on the privilege claimed and exercised by the enemy. To question it is to deny to our Government what the enemy claims and exercise.

RO. OULD,

Agent of Exchange.

From the foregoing telegram the authority fort he course pursued by our Government is:

First. The practice of the Federal Government in like circumstances.

Second. The provisions of the cartel agreed upon by the two Governments.

On turning to the cartel we find its fifth article reads as follows:

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 prisoner 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.

From this article it is clear that we have a perfect right to release and declare exchanged any number of our paroled prisoners, provided we send a list of them to the enemy and at the time authorize the enemy to release an equal of theirs, sending to them the names of ours whom we have released and the names of theirs we authorize them to release as equivalents. Upon doing this we comply with the provisions of article 5, and have a right to declare the men whom we have released exchanged.

The ninth and last article of the cartel provides:

And in case any misunderstanding shall arise in regard to any clause or stipulation in the foregoing article it is mutually agreed that such misunderstanding shall not interrupt the release of prisoners on parole as herein provided, but shall be made the subject of friendly explanations in order that the objects of this agreement may neither be defeated nor postponed.

The action of our Government therefore is in strict conformity with law, and is binding, not only upon its officers and men, but also upon the Government of the United States. As well might Federal generals charge-if indeed any have charged-irregularity in the exchange of the prisoners captured at Fort Donelson as those captured at Vicksburg. The obligation which binds the Government to recognize the latter is precisely the same which bound it to recognize the former. Good faith protects both alike.

By order of Lieutenant General L. Polk:

T. M. JACK,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

OFFICE COMMISSIONER FOR EXCHANGE,

Fort Monroe, December 13, 1863.

Major General E. A. HITCHCOCK,

Commissioner of Exchanges, Washington, D. C.:

SIR: I have the honor to inclose you herewith copy of a letter received from Mr. Ould, rebel agent of exchange, declining to receive at City


Page 695 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. - UNION AND CONFEDERATE.
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 2, vol 6, Part 1 (Prisoners of War)
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