II. It is understood that captured officers and men have been paroled and released in the field by others than commanders of opposing armies, and that the sick and wounded in hospitals have been so paroled and released in order to avoid guarding and removing them, which in many cases would have been impossible. Such paroles are in violation of general orders and the stipulations of the cartel and are null and void. They are not regarded by the enemy and will not be respected in the armies of the United States. Any officer or soldier who gives such parole will be returned to duty without exchange, and moreover will be punished for disobedience of orders. It is the duty of the captor to guard his prisoners, and if through necessity or choice he fails to do this it is the duty of the prisoner to return to the service of his Government. He cannot avoid this duty by giving an unauthorized military parole.
III. A military parole no to serve until exchanged must not be confounded with a parole of honor to do or not to do a particular thing not inconsistent with the duty of a soldier. Thus, a prisoner of war actually held by the enemy may, in order to obtain exemption from a close guard or confinement, pledge his parole of honor that he will make no attempt to escape. Such pledges are binding upon the individuals giving them; but they should seldom be given or received, for it is the duty of a prisoner to escape if able to do so. Any pledge or parole of honor extorted from a prisoner by ill-usage or cruelty is not binding.
IV. The obligations imposed by the general laws and usages of war upon the non-combatant inhabitants of a section of country passed over by an invading army cease when the military occupation ceases, and any pledge or parole given by such persons in regard to future service is null and of no effect.
By order of the Secretary of War:
E. D. TOWNSEND,
[JULY 4, 1863. - For correspondence, orders, &c., relating to prisoners of war captured at Vicksburg, Miss., not found herein, see Series I, Vol. XXIV, Parts I, II, and III.]
[JULY 4, 1863. - For correspondence between Meade and Lee in relation to the exchange of prisoners captured at Gettysburg, Pa., see Series I, Vol. XXVII, Part III, p. 514.]
U. S. STEAMER MINNESOTA,
Hampton Roads, July 4, 1863.
Honorable GIDEON WELLES, Secretary of the Navy:
The following communication is just received from Mr. Stephens, who is on the flag-of-truce boat, anchored above. I shall inform Mr. Stephens that I await your instructions before giving him an answer.
C. S. STEAMER TORPEDO, On James River, July 4, 1863.
Rear-Admiral S. P. LEE, U. S. Flag-ship Minnesota:
SIR: As military commissioner I am the bearer of a communication in writing from Jefferson Davis, Commander-in-Chief of the land and naval forces of the Confederate States, to Abraham Lincoln, Commander-in-Chief of the land and naval forces of the United States. * Honorable Robert Ould, Confederate States agent of
* See July 2, p. 75.