HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF VIRGINIA, &C.,
June 11, 1861.
TO THE OFFICER COMMANDING THE FORCES AT COUNTY BRIDGE.
SIR: Captain Davies and Lieutenant Potter, of the Fifth Regiment New York Volunteers, are about to proceed to the scene of the late engagement near County Bridge for the purpose of bringing away any dead or wounded that may have been left behind. I trust the courtesies of civilized warfare will be extended to these gentlemen as I have no doubt they will be.
I have some prisoners taken with arms in their hands whom you might desire or be willing to exchange for any persons that may have been so unfortunate as to have fallen into your hands. If you deem such a course desirable a flag of truce with a proper cartel might be arranged through the bearer of this note, Captain Davies.
I have the honor to be, most respectfully, your obedient servant,
BENJ. F. BUTLER,
DIVISION HEADQUARTERS, Yorktown, Va., June 12, 1861.
Major General B. F. BUTLER, Commanding, Fort Monroe.
SIR: Our people had orders to bring any communications intended for the commander of the forces at County Bridge or Bethel to this place and by a particular route, hence the delay. I understand from Captain Davies, the bearer of the flag, that you have four prisoners, to wit, one trooper and three citizens-Messrs. Carter, Whiting, Sively and Merriam (the latter being citizens of Virginia) -in your possession, and you state that you are desirous to exchange them for a corresponding number of Federal troops who are prisoners with me. I accept your offer as to the trooper who was a vedette, and will send to-morrow at 4 o'clock in the afternoon if it suit your convenience a Federal soldier in exchange for him. With respect to the wounded, my first care was to have them attended to. Medical advice and careful nursing have been provided and your dead I had buried on the field of battle, and this was done in sight of the conglagrations which were devasting the homes of our citizens.
The citizens in your possession are men who doutless defended their homes against a foe who to their certain knowledge had with or without the authority of the Federal Government destroyed the private property of their neighbors, breaking up even the pianos of the ladies and commiting depredations numberless and of every description. The Federal prisoner if it be agreeable to you will be sent to or near Hampton by a sergeant, who will receive the vedette, Carter, who was captured by your troops before the battle commenced. You have but one prisoner of mine and he was not taken in battle. I do not think a more formal proceeding is necessary. If my proposition to deliver one Federal prisoner at or near Hampton by a sergeant to be exchanged for Private carter, the captured vedette, be accepted please inform me or the officer in command at Bethel Church and it shall be done.
It is scarcely necessary to say that the gentlemen who bear your flag have been received with every courtesy by our citizens as well as by ourselves. *
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. BANKHEAD MAGRUDER,
* For Butler's answer to this letter see Series I, Vol. II, p. 681.