our hands and to those of ours in your custody simply to have declined the proposal. But you have thought proper to add to your refusal the gratuitous insult to the Confederate States of intimating that their fair and honest offer was made for the purpose of putting into the field officers and men fraudulently exchanged. This calumny is as destitute of foundation in fact as it is despicable in spirit.
In conclusion, let me tell you that the purpose of your letter is apparent. It has been well known for a long time that your authorities are opposed to a fair and regular exchange of prisoners under the cartel. In rejecting opposed to a fair and regular exchange of prisoners under a cloud of vague charges and unfounded statements the determination at which your Government long since arrived. Why not be frank once? Why not say, without any further subterfuges, that you have reached the conclusion that our officers and soldiers are more valuable, man for man, than yours?
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
Agent of Exchange.
Albert E. Proctor calls General Meredith's attention to the condition of the officers of the Forty-second Massachusetts Volunteers captured at Galveston, Tex., and wishes efforts made for their release.
OCTOBER 31, 1863.
Respectfully returned to Brigadier-General Meredith, agent of exchange.
It is very easy to obtain the release and exchange of these men. You have only to release such of ours as are similarly situated. The request herein contained is certainly a singular one, as at the very time I received this paper you sent me a communication refusing a general release of all officers and men on both sides. The Confederate Government is asked to parole these men, while your Government has repudiated the paroles which were given by their companions some time ago. These parties are not in close confinement and never have been.
Agent of Exchange.
CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA, WAR DEPARTMENT,
Richmond, October 31, 1863.
General R. E. LEE, Commanding, &c.:
GENERAL: I am indebted to you for suggestions relative to the provisions to be made for keeping our prisoners permanently. * They accord entirely with my own previous opinions. Until about a week or so since the commissioner of exchange was sanguine that there would soon be, by mutual agreement, a renewal of exchanges. An interview with the Federal commissioner at that time changed entirely his conviction, and he reported to me his belief that the enemy had adopted as their settled policy the retention of all prisoners. I commenced immediately instituting inquiries, with a view to the selection of an appropriate place, convenient, yet secure, in which the prisoners might
*See p. 438.