Montgomery, Ala., November 17, 1863.
General JOSEPH E. JOHNSTON, Commanding Department, &c.:
SIR: I have recently received from the Honorable John A. Campbell, Assistant Secretary of War, a communication in which he says that the Department desires me to continue in the discharge of my duties under my commission for the examination of prisoners not connected with the Confederate Army in the State of Alabama and Department of Western Georgia, and to maintain communication with the Confederate officers having charge of such prisoners, visit from time to time the several prisons, and make as speedy disposition as practicable of such cases, as they shall from time to time arise.
With a view to keeping myself apprised by the officers having charge of these prisoners, of arrests, &c., I have the honor to ask that you will extend to me the facilities, by your orders, of having the various provost-marshals or commandants of posts in your department to forward to me at this place monthly reports of these prisoners in their respective custody, stating the time of arrest, by whose order, &c., and to prepare for me on my tour of examination written charges against the prisoners, with names of witnesses to sustain them; or if no witnesses, such explanations and military orders connected with their arrests as may enable me satisfactorily to examine the cases. It would greatly facilitate me if I knew at what various military posts or prisoners in your department such arrests and confinements are made, that I might maintain a constant correspondence with the officers commanding them.
I am exceedingly anxious to reduce this whole matter to such system as would insure prompt attention to the cases as they arrive, and for any orders looking to this end which may occur to you as calculated to effect the purpose, I would be greatly obliged. I have also the honor to request that as full publicity be given to these orders as may be necessary.
I am, general, very respectfully,
M. J. SAFFOLD,
HDQRS. DEPT. OF VIRGINIA AND NORTH CAROLINA,
Fortress Monroe, November 18, 1863.
Honorable E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War:
SIR: In the limits of a telegram, and for the public eye, it was impossible to explain my full thought on the subject of exchange of prisoners. I believed there was some misunderstanding of the questions involved when I telegraphed, and your answer, with the sentiments of which in every word I concur, convinces me that I was right in my belief. No one will go further in exerting every power of the Government in protecting to the colored troops and their officers than myself, and if that is the question which prevents exchange, and we stand before the country upon that question, I have not a word further to urge. But I fear that is not the point or at least it is not now understood by the country that it is upon the pledge of the country's honor that all men, while eight for us shall be protected, that we now feel obliged to let our fellow-soldiers starve, if such shall be the inhumanity of the rebels.