You are correctly informed in regard to the disposition made of your medical officers still in my hands. This apparently harsh treatment is the result of a necessity imposed by the action of your own Government. A large number of our medical officers and chaplains who have fallen into the hands of other commanders have long been and are still in close confinement in the East. This course has been pursued by your Government without giving to mine any notice or reason. I am, therefore, instructed to hold those in my hands until some satisfactory explanation can be had with your Government.
I cannot, general, with hold the expression of my deep regret that by the action of your Government I am forced to this un pleasant ask, and I take great pleasure in expressing to you my thanks and my obligations for the uniform kindness and courtesy extended as a general rule to the medical officers and wounded of my army who have fallen into your hands. This I shall take great pleasure in reciprocating when not prevented by different action on the part of your Government.
By an examination of the cartel for the exchange of prisoners I do not find the stipulation in regard to medical officers which you think is violated. My own recollection is that the practice first originated in the action of my Government and was then continued under a special written before the cartel for the regular exchange of prisoners was agreed on. *
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
General, C. S. Army.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE CUMBERLAND,
Chattanooga, October 15, 1863.
Respectfully forwarded to the General -in - Chief for such consideration and action as the case may require.
It is a great hardship that we should suffer because officers elsewhere have carelessly or recklessly confined chaplains and medical officers without reporting the facts to the Government.
W. S. ROSECRANS,
Major - General.
Respectfully referred to Major - General Hitchcock,
H. W. HALLECK,
General- in- Chief.
WASHINGTON, October 24, 1863,
Respectfully returned to Major -General Halleck, with remark that the rebel authorities first improperly seized and confined Doctor Rucker, refusing to delivered him according to the cartel. Doctor Green (rebel)was finally confined as a hostage for Doctor Rucker, and then the rebel authorities, it was said, detained three others of our surgeons, when all further deliveries of this class of officers were suspended.
The General-in-Chief, it is believed, is aware of the general history of this matter.
E. A. HITCHCOCK,
Major General of Vols. and Commissioner for Exchange of Prisoners.
* For reply see Series I, Vol. XXX, Part IV, p. 387.