Extract from the message of President Davis to the Confederate Congress July 20, 1861.
To the Congress of the Confederate States of America.
GENTLEMEN: * * * But there are other savage practices which have been resorted to by the Government of the United States which do admit of repression by retaliation. I have been driven to the necessity of enforcing this repression. The prisoners of war taken by the enemy on board the armed schooner Savannah, sailing under our commission, were as I was crediblyadvised treated like common felons, put in irons, confined in a jail usually appropriated to criminals of the worst dye and threatened with punishment as such. I had made an application for the exchange of these prisoners to the commanding officer of the enemy's squadron off Charleston Harbor, but that officer had already sent the prisoners to New York when the application was made.
I therefore deemed it my duty to renew the proposal fot the exchange to the conander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, the only officer having control of the prisoners. To this end I dispatched an officer to him under a flag of truce, and in making the proposal I informed President Lincoln of my resolute purpose to check all barbarities on prisoners of war by such severity of retaliation on the prisoners held by us as should secure the abandonment of the practice. This communication was received and read by the officer in command of the Army of the United States and a message was brought from him by the bearer of my communication that a reply would be returned by President Licoln as soon as possible.
I earnestly hope that this promised reply which has not yet been received will convey the assurancc that prisoners of war will be treated in this unhappy contest with that regard to humanity which has made such conspicuous progress in the conduct of modern warfare. As a measure of precaution, however, and until the promised reply is received I still retain in close custody some officers captured from the enemy* whom it had been my pleasure previously to enlarge on parole and whose fate must necessarily depend on that of the prisoners held by the enemy.
I append a copy of my communication to the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States and of the report++ of the officer charged to deliver it, marked Document A.
* * * * * *
WAR DEPARTMENT, Richmond, July 26, 1861.
Captain PRIDE JONES, Fort Macon, N. C.
SIR: In reply to your letter of the 19th instant I am instructed by the Secretary of War to say it is supposed the Government has by this time secured buildings for prisoners at Salisbury, N. C. If this should be so you will send them thither; if not retain them for orders. They will be removed as soon as possible.
A. T. BLEDSOE,
Chief of Bureau of War.
*There is no record of officers specially retained as hostages at this date. The fourteen officers selected as hostages for the privateersmen were drawn by lot November 10, 1861. See Confederate corresondence, p. 738, for Secretary Benjamin's order of November 9 to Winder, and Winder's report of November 11, p. 739.
+Omitted here; Davis to Lincoln July 6, p. 5.