Seventh. In my memorandum the officers and non-commissioned officers are reduced to privates. There are but very few, if any, commissioned officers on the lists. They have already been exchanged and checked off. This is of itself proof that your authorities have heretofore recognized these paroles. The lists and paroles will show the grade of all the parties.
Eighth. I have been greatly misunderstood by General Hitchcock if he thinks I have refused to be governed by your general orders. General Hitchcock says: "We appeal to those orders, and intend to be governed by them, and if the enemy would assume them, and be governed by them also, all difficulties on the subject of paroles would cease. "
I have already expressed my willingness to be governed by your general orders "on the subject of paroles. " It was my original proposition. I adhere to it still. Let, then, "all difficulties cease. "
Ninth. If our present difficulties are to cease, let me, for the sake of future harmony, suggest that there be some definite meaning attached to the phrase "commanders of two opposing armies. " Who are such commanders?
We can readily understand that General Lee and General Meade are such. But is General Thomas the commander of one of the opposing armies at Chattanooga, or is it General Grant? Was General Pemberton the commander of an opposing army when he was subject to the orders of General Johnston, who was in his immediate neighborhood? Was General Gardner the commander of an opposing army at Port Hudson? If so, is not every one who holds a separate command such a commander? Does size constitute an army? If a captain or lieutenant is on detached service, is he the commander of an opposing army, and can he be released on parole by an agreement made with the officer who captured him, if he also is on detached service? I make these inquiries of General Hitchcock in no captious spirit.
They do present difficulties to my mind, and I should like to know what is to be considered as the true interpretation of the phrase. All the captures after the 3rd of July, 1863, which I ask you to recognize, were in pursuance of an agreement between "the commanders of two opposing armies. " I cannot see how any difficulty can arise between General Hitchcock and myself after his letter, except as to captures between May 22, 1863, and July 3, 1863. They are but very few in number.
I will thank you to send this letter, or a copy of it, to General Hitchcock.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
Agent of Exchange.
CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA, WAR DEPARTMENT,
Richmond, Va., November 21, 1863.
Honorable JAMES A. SEDDON, Secretary of War:
SIR: In the matter of the proposed exchange of Lieutenant-Colonel Kyle, Forty-sixth Alabama, for Lieutenant-Colonel Hunter, One hundred and twenty-third Ohio, I have the honor to submit the following:
I have no doubt but that in an exclusively military point of view we would be no losers by the exchange. In all probability we would be gainers. But there are other considerations connected with the subject of special exchanges which have fully confirmed me in the belief that a resort to them is impolitic in the present condition of affairs.