War of the Rebellion: Serial 116 Page 0790 PRISONERS OF WAR AND STATE, ETC.

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continued through the war, so that on all occasions either party holding prisoners shall so hold them only on a role till exchanged, the prisoners being allowed to remain in their own country till the exchange is effected.

The foregoing instructions will fully satisfy you that we do not intend to allow the enemy to go further than we are ready to go I the honorable effort to change the past system on which this war has been conducted, and that we earnestly desire to mitigate its severity to the utmost extent compatible with our safety and the maintenance of our rights.

I have said nothing on the subject of our privateers recently treated as felons because I have been gratified to find from the statments of the public journals that these captives are henceforth to be treated as prisoners of war. It is however, so extremely unsafe to rely on newspaper statments that it will be well for you to request an official assurance of this fact from messrs. Ames and Fish, in order that the prisoners held by us as hostages be at once relieved from their exceptional condition and comprehended in the general exchange.

Your obedient servant,

J. P. BENJAMIN,

Secretary of War.

WAR DEPARTMENT, Richmond, Va., Feburary 6, 1862.

Major General HUGER, Norfolk, Va.

SIR: I have received your letter of the 4th instant with its inclosures relative to the mission of Messrs. Ames and Fish. The matterhas been considered in Cabinet meeting, and I send you the result in the form of a letter to be addressed by you to General Wool. If our poposal is accepted please telegraph tome immieately tosend Messrs. Seddon and COnrad and they will proceed at once to Norfoolk. It is not thought necessary that they go now as it may be that some days will elapse before you get an answer, or our propsal may be declined altogetehr.

Your obedient servant,

J. P. BENJAMIN,

Secretary of War.

[Inclosure.]

fForm of letter to be written to General Wool.

GENERAL: I hato my Government as announced in my letter of the 4th instant your letter tome of that date, with the copy of the insturctions of the Secretary of War of the United States addressed to the Rev. Gishop Ames and Honorable Hamilton Fish.

I am happy to inform you that the propsotion contanined in the letter of insturctions is cordially welcomed, and that in order to more effectually accomplish the humane purpose so justly lauded by you the Secretary of War of the COnfederate States has appointed the Honorable James A. Seddona and Honorable Charles M. Conrad commissioners tomeet and confer with Messrs. Ames and Fish with instructin s, a copy* of which is herwith inclosed.

These honorable gentlemen, commissioners, propose to spare Messrs. Ames and Fish the necessity of travel to Richmond and other places in the South by agreeing at once to the restoration of all the prisoners to

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*See p. 788, ante.

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