CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA, WAR DEPARTMENT,
Richmond, Va., November 21, 1863.
Brigadier General S. A. MEREDITH, Agent of Exchange:
SIR: I have received the letter of General Hitchcock relating to the memorandum of paroles which I forwarded to you. *
General Hitchcock seems to have misapprehended my purpose somewhat in sending you that memorandum. You requested a list of the paroles which I claimed, and the paper which I sent to you was only intended to be understood as a memorandum in the way of notice to you. I did not expect you to agree to recognize the paroles therein referred to in such a general way upon the mere presentation of the paper.
The evidence which supports that memorandum of paroles is on file in my office.
If we could only have upon the principle by which they should be computed and adjusted, all the rest would have been easy work. I would have presented the paroles themselves or authenticated lists of them. The fact that they were given, the circumstances under which they were given, the parties giving them, would all appear upon the face of the papers in proper form.
As General Hitchcock seems to indicate a willingness to reopen this matter, I will state for his benefit, frankly, the principles by which I propose to be governed.
First. I will not claim the paroles of citizens. All the paroles which I will produce will be those of Federal soldiers in actual service at the time of capture.
Second. I will show the particular locality where the parties were captured, the command to which they belonged, the command which captured them, and the precise date of each transaction.
Third. I will accompany the presentation with such full and particular evidence as will enable you to verify the truth of the case by your own records and the statements of your own officers and soldiers.
Fourth. More than thirty of the forty-four items in my memorandum are cases of captures made previous to the 22nd of May, 1863. It has never at any time been alleged that I had any notice before that time that paroling upon the battle-field was not to be permitted. The Federal authorities have charged against me paroles taken upon the battle-field up to that date, and have received credit for them. I would have received credit for these items many months ago if you had had paroles or prisoners of ours to have off settled against them. I will thank General Hitchcock to inform me upon what principle he can reject those thirty-odd items. If he wants evidence that I have allowed precisely similar paroles I will furnish it.
Fifth. As to such of the paroles as were given between the 22nd of May, 1863, and the 3rd of July (the date of General Orders, Numbers 207), I shall contend that they shall be allowed under the provisions of paragraph 131 of General Orders, Numbers 100. I will allow any similar paroles given to you during the same period.
Sixth. As to all paroles given after the 3rd of July, 1863, I will allow General Orders, Numbers 207, to have full force. No paroles from and after that date are to be valid, unless the paroling is in pursuance of the agreement of the commanders of two opposing armies.
*See November 6, p. 471.