the assistant commissioner of exchange will aid in every way in bringing in paroled and exchanged men within the parole camps, and in the event that exchanges are resumed and parties released on parole that they should communicate such instructions and such forms as will make the lists effective.
Agent of Exchange.
WASHINGTON CITY, D. C., November 24, 1863.
Honorable EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War:
SIR: I have read the communication of Major-General Butler of the 18th instant, addressed to the War Department, on the subject of the exchanged of prisoners, and beg to remark that the proposition of Mr. Ould has not been, as General Butler seems to suppose, to exchange man for man and grade for grade, leaving in the hands of one or the other party any excess there might be, still prisoners of war; but his proposition is to delivery all on both side, the excess to be on parole, who would thus be within the lines and at the disposal of the enemy.
More than two months ago I handed a written suggestion to the General-in-Chief, whom it was submitted to the Secretary of War, to exchange prisoners mutually, as far as the enemy would exchanged man for man or grade for grade, it being my design to hold the excess, to be used, as General Butler suggests, to force out of the hands of the enemy such officers and men as they might retain on the plea that they were captured with colored troops.
That proposal was negatived on the ground that such an exchange would be a virtual acquiescence in the publicly declared purpose of the enemy not to treat colored troops, when captured, as prisoners of war. This declaration exists in the published proclamation of Mr. Davis, and in act of the so-called Confederate Congress, while their newspapers, from one end of the country to the other, have rung out the declaration in every form, that they will never agree to treat colored troops as prisoners of war, asseverating, in the strongest language, that it would be a complete surrender of all they are fighting for in the South. Mr. Ould's offer to exchange all prisoners on both sides, the excess to be held on parole, is positively, and had for its purpose, as I am bound to say, to get into the power of the South the excess of prisoners now in our hands, in order to sent them free fro their parole by an offset, not of prisoners captured with colored troops, who we have every reason to believe would not be exchanged, but by parading a long schedule of alleged captures in the West and South by guerrilla parties, ranging over portions of Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Missouri, Texas, &c., where non-combatants have been swooped in by whole villages, and put under some form of oath not to take arms, and this class of men, not soldiers captured on the field of battle, Mr. Ould wishes to use as against the captured troops in our possession, who have been taken on bloody battle-fields.
This is what Mr. Ould has already done for the purpose of putting into the field the troops captured by General Grant at Vicksburg, and who were unfortunately paroled in the South.
But this is not the main point. We have positive evidence that Mr. Ould, or the authorities in the South, do not intend to deliver up colored troops, or officers captured with that class of troops.