HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY,
Washington, July 2, 1863.
Colonel WILLIAM H. LUDLOW,
Agent for Exchange of Prisoners, Fort Monroe:
COLONEL: Your dispatch of the 1st instant is received. It is stated that some of the officers and men of the colored regiments captured west of the Mississippi River have been hung by order of General Taylor, and that others (colored) have been sold into slavery under some pretended State authority. It is understood that General Grant has made a formal demand on General Taylor to know if these statements are true, and also that al such prisoners be treated in accordance with the stipulations of the cartel and the rules of civilized war. * It is also stated that a portion of Colonel Streight's command captured have been refused the right of exchange under the cartel and are improperly retained by the enemy.
It is the duty of the United States to allured protection to all persons duly received into the military service, and if the enemy should violate the cartel and laws of war in the treatment of prisoners our Government will be reluctantly compelled to resort to retaliation. While we shall ask for nothing to which we are not entitled by well-established laws, we cannot permit a deliberate and systematic violation of the usages of civilized warfare to pass unpunished. However much we may wish to avoid any act by which the innocent may suffer for the crimes of the guilty, there are occasions where summary retaliation must be resorted to. I am fully aware that violations of law, both civil and military, will sometimes occur under any Government or organization, and complaints are not made where the proper authorities employ all legitimate means to rebuke and punish the offenders. It is hoped that the statements I have alluded to may be incorrect or mere exaggerations, as is not unusually the case on both sides, and that the matter may be properly and satisfactorily arranged.
In connection with this matter I inclose herewith a copy of a report+ of General Rosecrans upon General Bragg's letter in regard to his stripping Coburn's brigade of their blankets, clothing, &c. You will please again call Mr. Ould's attention to General Bragg's conduct as admitted by himself. Instead of depriving prisoners of war of their clothing we have issued to them large quantities of blankets to make them comfortable and have generally exchanged them in better condition than when captured. The enemy, on the contrary, has frequently treated our troops with great inhumanity and sent them back in a condition utterly disgraceful to the captors. It is hoped that this matter will be properly investigated and the abuse corrected.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. W. HALLECK,
ANNAPOLIS, July 2, 1863.
Honorable E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War:
SIR: I have the honor to report that I am here waiting orders, with 300 women and children. I received your dispatch Tuesday evening. Answered as directed, and have received no orders since. This is sent
* See Series I, Vol. XXIV, Part III, pp. 425, 443, 469.
+ See Vol. V, this series, p. 769.