The following extracts from two of your letters will probably serve to convince you that it is highly probable that while laboring under the excitement hinted at above you may have made the statement attributed to you. From your letter dated October 2, 1863, I take the following:
I now inform you, in view of the recent declaration of exchange made by you, coupled with your failure either to agree to or decline the proposition made by [to] you on the 24th of August last in relation to paroles, that the Confederate authorities will consider themselves entirely at liberty to pursue any course as to exchanges or paroles which they may deem right and proper.
Again, in your letter to me of October 16 you stated as follows:
I reserve to myself the right to make further declarations of exchange from time to time, based upon the paroles in my office, until I have declared exchanged a number of Confederate soldiers equal to that of Federal troops declared exchanged by your last notice.
In these two extracts you arrogate to your Government and to yourself the right to declare exchanges. Of course, a Government in as prosperous a condition as the Confederacy, with men in superabundance to put into the field, would not declare men exchanged for that purpose, nor would a high-toned, honorable gentleman, who has reserved to himself the right to declare exchanges, use that right with the idea of putting men in the field. Yet it is well known that many officers and men captured at Vicksburg were in the battle of Chickamauga. I deem it proper here to say a few words in relation to the 18,000 paroles which you state you have in your possession and which you claim as valid. You rest the validity of the paroles (which I have never seen, and which you acknowledge to have been accumulating for many months) on General Orders of the United States Government, Nos. 49 and 100. These two orders announced general rules based on the usages of war, but a cartel having been agreed upon, no order of either party could set aside its provisions (which I have stated to you on several occasions). For instance, a commander on being captured might under some circumstances give a parole for himself and his command without violating General Orders, Numbers 100 (which includes General Orders, Numbers 49); but unless the paroling was done at City Point or other named place it would be in violation of the cartel; nor could exceptions be taken to this course by the party granting the parole, because the validity of the parole depends on a strict compliance with the provisions of the cartel. Paragraph 130 of Order 100, which prescribes the duties that a paroled soldier may perform, is also to some extent se at side by the cartel, which restricts there duties to a much more limited field than the order. Paragraph 131, which you attempt to make so much of, is also rendered inoperative by the cartel, because it could only apply to paroles given at the points designated for delivery, but all such paroles are by the cartel made invalid, and the paroling party therefore has no pretext for claiming their recognition. Had such a claim been admitted the effect at Gettysburg would have been to give to General R. E. Lee the privilege of placing his prisoners in our hands to be delivered to him at City Point at a claim so manifestly absurd that I am surprised that even you should have had the assurance to make it. Yet on precisely this ground rests the foundation for the 18,000 paroles which you claim as valid. Paroles on the field of battle, often given in haste by an enemy unable to take care of or receive them, are informal and invalid by the laws of war. Most of the paroles above mentioned were taken by guerrillas, bushwhackers, and detached commands in the West. No possession was ever had, no delivery was ever made, and no rolls have ever been furnished of those given them. On