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 comprehend in the general exchange.
D. Form of a letter sent to General Huger to be by him addressed to General Wool, and which was dated at Norfolk on the 9th of February and forwarded to its address.
E. The answer of General Wool to General Huger, dated at Fort Monroe on the 13th of February, stating that he alone was clothed with full powers for the exchange of prisoners, * * * that he was "prepared to arrange for the restoration of all the prisoners to their homes on fair terms of exchange, man for man and officer for officer of equal grade, assimilating the grade of officers of the army and navy when necessary, and agreeing upon equitable terms for the number of men or officers of inferior grade to be exchanged for any of higher grade when the occasion shall arise. " Also "that all the surplus prisoners on either side be discharged on parole, with the agreement that any prisoners of war taken by the other party shall be returned in exchange as fast as captured, and this system to be continued while hostilities continue. " General Wool further gave assurance "that the prisoners taken on board of vessels or otherwise in maritime conflict by the forces of the United States have been put and are now held only in military custody and on the same footing as other prisoners taken in arms. " Finally General Wool declared himself ready to confer for the purpose of arranging the exchange either with General Huger or with Messrs. Seddon and Conrad, or any other person appearing for that purpose.
Before proceeding with my narrative I beg to call your special attention to the fact that the letter of instruction to Messrs. Seddon and Conrad, a copy of which was inclosed to General Wool, contained the indentical propositions just quoted from his letter; that our proposal to the ccepted in the fullest and most explicit manner, and I place prominently in view the further fact that at the time when the proposal was made by this Government that all surplus prisoners held by either party should be delivered up and allowed to go home till exchanged, and that this system should continue in force during the war, the Confederate States held in their possession a large surplus of prisoners who were to be restored to the enemy under this stipulation.
The principles and terms for a general exchange of prisoners having been thus finally agreed on there remained nothing to be done but to settle the details of the time, place and manner of its execution. For this purpose civil commissioners were not necessary; a military officer had been properly selected by the enemy for executing mere military details, and in accordance with their example Brigadier General Howell Cobb was selected to meet General Wool and execute the contract.
F. Letter of instructions dated February 18 to General Cobb suggesting details of execution deemed fair and equal but adding:
Any fair and equal rule will be satisfactory, provided you can see your way clear as regards its practical working. I desire only to impress on you the necessity of extreme caution in avoiding any rule or any arrangement which could possibly give rise to dispute or controversy in its practical operation. Let the arrangement be equal and let it be simple, plain and clear. All else is left to your discretion.
In the same letter General Cobb was told-
That the assurance contained in the letter of General Wool that our privateers captured on the high seas will in the future be considered in the same light as prisoners taken in arms on land and will be consequently exchanged like other prisoners is entirely satisfactory, and you are requested to inform General Wool that as soon as this assurance was received orders were issued placing the officers hitherto held