I cannot give up a regular for a volunteer officer. lieutenant Hurt brings me the inclosed list* of prisoners held by the enemy at Columbus, Ohio, with a verbal statement from General Rosecrans that if we will send a like number of officers and men captured from his command he will give up the prisoners on the list in exchange. Lieutenant Hurt's parole is from General McClellan through his Adjuant- General, Thoams. A number of other exchanged prisoners came touis on like parole.
I put you in possession of these facts as a preface to a request that you send an officer with a flag of truce to General McClellan proposing to him to extablish some general system of exchange by which details equally annoying to him and to us will be avoided. We cannot consent to continue a system so partial in its operation, so cumbesome in detail and so difficult of executin; nor do we see any just ground for distinguishing between prisoners taken at different points or belonging to different commands. This is one general war between the two opposing forces and as its fortunes vary prisoners are taken by each side in different localities.
The usages of civilized warfare require that tthe commanding generals on each side should agree on a cartel of exchange. General McClellan is commander- in- chief of all the armies of the United States, but we have no such officer inour service. As you, however, are of the highest grade known to us I now intrust you with the power of entering into ngotiations with General McClellan by flag of truce for a general exchange for our whole forces. You are therfore requested to send to him the proposition to enter into arrangements for a geenral exchagne of prisoenrs on fair terms and on some definite basis to be agreed on, and to inform him that if the propsoition be unacceptable we regret to be forced to decline making any further exchagnes on the anomalous system whichnow exists and which experience has satisfied us must prove impracticable.
You may at the same time sask if he is willing to deliver up the prisoners on the inclosed list in exchange for an equal number of like grade without reference to the army fromwhich they were captured or the place of capture.
Please reportyour proceedings under these instructions as promptly as possilbe.
Your obedient servant,
J. P. BENJAMIN,
Secretary of War.
WAR DEPARTMENT, Richmond, January 26, 1862.
Major General BENJAMIN HUGER, Norfolk, Va.
SIR: 1. In response to yours of 23rd instant inclosing offer of General Wool for exchagne of Messrs. Claiborne and Forrest for Major James V. Bomford, Sixth Infantry, I remark that Major Bomford has already been tendered for Pegram. I now offer for these two navzl officers Major D. H. Vinto, U. S. Army. I learn from what seems good authority that Major Vinton, rleased on parole in Texas, has been and is now in service of the United States at West Point, thus relieving other officers for active service and violating his parole. I hope this statement is inot true, but it will be not inopportune to report the matter to General