WAR DEPARTMENT, Richmond, November 15, 1861.
Major General BENJAMIN HUGER, Norfolk, Va.
SIR: Your letter of the 13th* instant to the Adjutant-General has been referred to me.
First. Lieutenant Worden is now on his way here on his parole to report to the Adjutant-General. As soon as he arrives he will be forwarded to Norfolk to be restored to Commodore Goldsborough "without any exactions or conditions whatever," as stipulated by you.
Second. the proposal to exchange Lieutenant Henry K. Stevens, of South Carolina, for Lieutenant Kautz is certainly not in accordance with that honorable sense of equality and fair-dealing that ought to characterize such propositions between belligerent powers. In saying this I entirely acquit Commodore Goldsborough of any imputation his language would seem to convey. I refer solely to the action of his Government. They seize upon Southern citizens as prisoners of state and then tender them in exchange for prisoners of war. We are not so obtuse as to be blind to the unfair advantage they thus seek to obtain. Humanity and regard for our unfortunate citizens thus reduced to captivity are, how ever, stronger motives of action than the just indignation inspired by such a course of conduct on the part of our enemies. Besides we can well afford to spare a few prisoners of war, having a number so largely in excess of theirs. The President has therefore determined to consent to the exchange of Lieutenant Stevens for Lieutenant Kautz, and to tender the further exchange which seems to be invited by the letter of Commodor Goldsborough by offering to restore to them Lieutenant Selden for Lieutenant Benjamin P. Loyall, of Virginia, the exchange to be unconditional.
In the course of a day or two I hope to suggest other names as exchanges for the other two officers, Butt and Dalton. In making these exchanges the President desires that you intimate to Commodore Goldsborough that in consenting to them "you protest in the name of your Government against a system unknown in the rules and usages of warfare by which unarmed men taken captive as political prisoners or prisoners of state are held by the Government of the United States to be tendered in exchange for its officers captured in battle, and that in consenting to such exchanges this Government is moved by a sense of humanity and concern for its captive citizens, and is not to be understood as conceding that the exchange is a fair and equal one. "+
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I am, your obedient servant,
J. P. BENJAMIN,
Acting Secretary of War.
CENTERVILLE, November 15, 1861.
Commanding First Corps, Army of the Potomac.
SIR: I have the honor to report that I was made a prisoner at the battle of Ball's Bluff Monday, October 21, 1861. I was immediately carried to the river shore guarded by six men and was ferried across in a flat boat to Harrison's Island, the boat being crowded with the enemy's wounded and men who had run away from the battle-field. After stopping on the island fifteen minutes or more I was ferried in
+For part omitted, see Vol. I, this Series, p. 94.