War of the Rebellion: Serial 119 Page 0246 PRISONERS OF WAR AND STATE, ETC.

Search Civil War Official Records

otherwise be enabled to present them, our views on this important subject. I venture to recommend further, that the captured negroes be not brought to trial; or, if condemned, that your powers of executive clemency be exercised to suspend their execution, to allow the possibility of arrangement on this question, so fraught with present difficulty and future danger.

With high respect and regard, your obedient servant,


Secretary of War.


Richmond, September 1, 1863.

His Excellency the PRESIDENT:

SIR: In answer to your indorsement of the 24th ultimo directing a "report upon the special case of ex-Mayor Monroe, and the general arrangements of the belligerents which bear upon it, "I have the honor to submit the following report:

On the 11th of May last the following agreement, being paragraph of Exchange Notice, No. 5, was made between the Federal agent and myself, to wit:

All civilians who have been arrested at any time before the 6th of May 1863, and released on parole are discharged from any and every obligation contained in said parole. If any such person has taken any oath of allegiance to the United States, or given any bond, or if his release was accompanied with any other condition, he is discharged from the same.

Although the agreement upon its face refers to parties who were released on parole before its date, it was understood that the arrangement was to be a continuing one, and upon the publication of each exchange notice the same or a similar announcement would be made. Early in April last the Federal agent of exchange complained that a political prisoner named Wardener was compelled to give his parole before he was sent to City Point for delivery. In reply I wrote to him as follows:

Our clear and indisputable understanding was that all civilians who should be released or had been released upon giving a parole or any obligation should be considered as absolved from that parole or obligation. It made no difference where the parties were delivered, or whether they had ever been in actual confinement even. It was a necessary incident to our agreement for the release of political prisoner. I have already acted upon this, and given notice that all civilians, whenever and wherever released, were discharged from any parole, or any obligation, or any oath into which they may have entered before their release or at the time they were released. The parole and oath of Wardener only operated until he was delivered to you at City Point.

This was written and accepted before the agreement of May 11, and serves to show the nature and meaning of the agreement made on that day. On the 12th of June, 1863, I wrote to the Federal agent of exchange substantially that if he desired to prevent the publication of paragraph 8 of Exchange Notice Numbers 5 to future cases he could so inform me. That he has not done or attempted to do. General Orders, Numbers 207, issued by the War Department at Washington, July 3, 1863, practically recognize the doctrine that released non-combatants are discharged from the obligations of a parole given whilst in captivity. Paragraph 4 of that order is in these words:

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.