WASHINGTON CITY, D. C., November 13, 1863.
Brigadier General S. A. MEREDITH,
Commissioner for Exchange of Prisoners:
SIR: I am not yet informed whether any, or how far, relief may have reached our unfortunate prisoners of war in Richmond and its vicinity under the orders of the Secretary of War to send supplies to them of both food and clothing.
Meantime it is proper and necessary that Mr. Ould should be notified, for the information of his Government, that whatever steps may have been or may be taken thus to extend relief must, on no consideration, be appealed to by the enemy to relieve him from the obligation to treat prisoners of war according to the laws of civilized warfare.
If, in other words, our prisoners in Richmond fail to receive such supplies as the laws alike of humanity and war require, the authorities in Richmond must be informed that it will not be considered a valid explanation or excuse for them to appeal to the fact, should it exist, that supplies from us have not reached them.
The action of our Government in this matter is dictated purely by humanity, and is only an effort to relieve our prisoners from suffering inflicted upon them contrary to the claims of both humanity and the laws of war, and must not be understood as relieving the authorities at Richmond from responsibility to the Christian world in the premises.
If the authorities in Richmond will send us these prisoners we will not only feed and clothe them, but will continue to supply food and clothing as heretofore to such prisoners as may be in our possession, and you will propose to Mr. Ould that in this case we will agree, without any reserve, to respect the parole they may give according to the laws of war, from which they shall not be relieved in view of past differences of pending questions on the subject of exchange without the previously obtained consent of the authorities represented by Mr. Ould, as agent for exchanges, under the cartel.
You will please lose no time ia copy of this note, certified by yourself, to Mr. Ould, and will urge upon him its acceptance, as due to the most solemn considerations in the face of the civilized world.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
E. A. HITCHCOCK,
Major General of Vols. and Commissioner for Exchange of Prisoners.
WASHINGTON, November 13, 1863.
Send forward haversacks for the use of the prisoners.
E. A. HITCHCOCK,
FORT MONROE, November 13, 1863.
Colonel HOFFMAN, Commissary-General of Prisoners:
I learn through communication of Colonel Roberts that you desire General Lee to be sent to Fort Lafayette accompanied by officers and men from this corps. If you will send a request to me to that effect it will be done.
BENJ. F. BUTLER,