War of the Rebellion: Serial 119 Page 0075 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. -UNION AND CONFEDERATE.

Search Civil War Official Records

waged by civilized people in modern times, and to divest it of the savage character which has been impressed on it by our enemies in spite of all our efforts and protests. War is full enough of unavoidable horrors under all its aspects to justify and even to demand of any Christian rulers who may be unhappily engaged in carrying it on to seek to restrict its calamities and to divest it of all unnecessary severities. You will endeavor to establish the cartel for the exchange of prisoners on such a basis as to avoid the constant difficulties and complaints which arise, and to prevent for the future what we deem the unfair conduct of our enemies in evading the delivery of prisoners who fall into their hands; in retailing it by sending them on circuitous routes, and by detaining them sometimes for months in camp and prisons, and in persisting in taking captives non-combatants.

Your attention is also called to the unheard-of conduct of Federal officers in driving from their homes entire communities of women and children, as well as men, whom they find in districts occupied by their troops, for no other reason than because these unfortunates are faithful to the allegiance due to their States and refuse to take an oath of fidelity to their enemies. The putting to death of unarmed prisoners has been a ground of just complaint in more than one instance, and the recent execution of officers of our army in Kentucky for the sole cause that they were engaged on recruiting service in a State which is claimed as still one of the United States, but is also claimed by us as one of the Confederate States, must be repressed by retaliation if not unconditionally abandoned, because it would justify the like execution in every other State of the Confederacy; and the practice is barbarous, uselessly cruel, and can only lead to the slaughter of prisoners on both sides - a result too horrible to contemplate without making every effort to avoid it.

On these and all kindred subjects you will consider your authority full and ample to make such arrangements as will temper the present cruel character of the contest, and full confidence is placed in your judgment, patriotism, and discretion that while carrying out the objects of your mission you will take care that the equal rights of the Confederacy be always preserved.

Very respectfully,

JEFFERSON DAVIS.

[Inclosure.]

ABRAHAM LINCOLN,

Commander-in-Chief of the

Land and Naval Forces of the United States of America:

SIR: As Commander-in-Chief of the land and naval forces now waging war against the United States I have the honor to address this communication to you as Commander-in-Chief of the land and naval forces.

Numerous difficulties and disputes have arisen in relation to the execution of the cartel of exchange heretofore agreed on by the belligerents, and the commissioners of the exchange of prisoners have been unable to adjust their differences. Their action on the subject of those differences is delayed and embarrassed by the necessity of referring each subject as it arises to superior authority for decision. I believe that I have just ground of complaint against the officers and forces under your command for breach of trust of the cartel, and being myself ready to execute it at all times in good faith I am not justified in doubting the existence of the same disposition on your part. In addition to this matter I have to complain of the conduct of your officers and