as hostages for these privateers on the same footing as all other prisoners, and they will at once be sent home on parole under the proposed arrangements for exchange.
General Cobb proceeded on his mission and arranged with General Wool all the details of the exchange on the basis of the agreement above stated. Two of the details suggested in the instructions of this Department to General Cobb were not accepted by General Wool. For one of the two he proposed a substitute which was promptly accepted. For the other, admitted by him to be worthy of approval, he offered no substitute but asked time to obtain authority from his Government, as he declared himself to be without instructions. This authority was not granted to him, whereupon General Cobb waived his proposition, thus leaving complete and perfect all the details requisite for the execution of the previous contract.
But pending these arrangements our arms had been unfortunate; the enemy had captured a number of prisoners at Roanoke Island and Fort Donelson; the condition of the parties was reversed; the United States now held a surplus of prisoners, and the execution of the agreement was for the moment disadvantageous to them. Under these circumstances the Government of the United States did not hesitate to violate an engagement universally considered to be one of peculiar sanctity. General Wool after writing on February 13 that he had "full powers," and after agreeing "that all 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," was compelled by his Government to write on the 27th of the same month that "it is proper to say that my powers are exclusively limited to the exchange of prisoners as presented to Major-General Huger on the 13th of February, 1862," and then propose certain special exchanges of individual officers.
In the meantime not distrusting for a moment that an engagement of so sacred a character would be executed with fidelity the prisoners held by us as hostages for the safety and proper treatment of the privateers were discharged from close confinement and ordered to be sent home. Colonels Lee, Cogswell and Wood and Major Revere were sent to their own country; the remaining hostages were brought on parole from distant points to Richmond on their way to be delivered up at the expense of this Government, and their surrender was only suspended on receipt of intelligence from General Cobb that he saw reason to suspect bad faith on the part of the enemy.
While this prompt and loyal execution of the agreement was in progress on the part of this Government the enemy was conveying the prisoners captured at Fort Donelson to Chicago and other points most distant from their homes, and was parading the officers who fell into their power through the entire breadth of the land, from Western Tennessee to Fort Warren, in Boston-Harbor, where they are now incarcerated, and up to the present moment not a single officer taken at Fort Donelson nor a single captive privateer has been restored to his home while the United States have kept possession of the hostages given up in reliance on their honor.
The document G, herewith submitted, is the report of General Cobb containing a statement of his proceedings and copies of his correspondence with General Wool, and the document H contains the letter of General Wool dated the 5th of the current month, from which it is apparent that the Government of the United States adheres to the refusal to perform its agreement.