of the visit was one of mercy and humanity toward one of your own subject. " Granted, though our citizens do not acknowledge themselves subjects of any power, but how are we to know it unless we are informed beforehand of your intentions?
The visit of your vessels up the James River may also be one of "mercy and humanity," but we cannot see it in that light. On the contrary your presence has brought death and desolation over the land; families are driven from their homes; estates abandoned; the servants of families who have resided on these estates for more than a century ruined; the poor negroes themselves deprived for their homes and turned off paupers upon the world and lost to them; the women, the sick and the infirm despoiled of their homes and property to the amount of millions sacrificed. And for what? That a political party shall cram its tenents down our throats at the point of the bayonet. This is your visit of "mercy and humanity. " May God in His mercy preserve us from such visits.
I need not assure you that I regretted the circumstances under which your officers were taken and extended to them every cortesy in my power, but had to report them to the War Department as prisoners of war and by their orders they have been sent to the interior and will be no doubt treated just as your Government treats its prisoners.
If the arrangements between General Wool and myself are not interrupted by your authorities I hope soon to exchange every prisoner, and I shall be most happy to receive and deliver your officers and men to you. I am confident you will assist me in this object with the Government you serve. I highly appreciate the aid you have given the cause of humanity in getting that Government to consent to any exchange of prisoners.
With the highest respect, I remain, your most obedient servant,
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE APPOMATOX,
Petersburg, May 24, 1862.
Captain WM. SMITH, U. S. Navy,
Senior Officer, U. S. Naval Forces, James River.
SIR: I have the acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 21st instant. I regret the unfortunate result to your officers and men, but cannot admit that they received any other treatment than just what they had a right to expect.
1. As to no Confederate glaf being displayed. It is not the custom of service for pickets to display any flag.
2. As to white flags being shown. You must be aware that no one has a right to approach an enemy with a white flag without the authority of the commander. Such flags must have been shown by timid individuals for their own safety and were entirely unknown to me.
3. You come on our soil as enemies. Your very presence is an injury inflicting loss of millions to our citizens. You must expect to be tr4eated as enemies.
With the highest respect, I remain, your obedient servant,
38 R R-SERIES II, VOL III