the spirit of the rebel authorities on this subject and which demonstrates the little faith to be placed by us upon rebel agreements for exchange. Only a few weeks since a proposition was made from our side that all chaplains held as prisoners of war should be mutually released, irrespective of numbers, on either side. The rebel agent, Mr. Ould, professed to accept this proposition "cordially," upon which we sent to the South all we had of that class of non combatants in good faith and received from the South about one-half the number belonging to us, supposing this was all they had in custody; but, as I now learn upon authority which I am not at liberty to discredit, a chaplain belonging to a Massachusetts colored regiment upon being captured was heavily ironed and sent to a prison in Columbia, S. C., where he has been held in violation of Mr. Ould's "cordial" acceptance of the proposition for a general release of this class of persons. I have every reason to believe that this particular chaplain, because he had belonged to a colored regiment, was deliberately withheld. Another chaplain, who had been his fellow-prisoners, was separated from whom we learned the facts in the case as just stated. Within the past few days, upon a formal application made by General Meredith that my instance to learn the history of two men who were reported be and are believed to be officers of the Federal Army said to be in the hands of the enemy, Mr. Ould furnished to General Meredith what purported to be the proceedings of a civil court in the State of Virginia, the testimony in the cases not being furnished, by which it appeared that the two men had been sentenced to a penitentiary for a term of years on a charge of negro stealing; and the Governor of Virginia, or of that part of it in rebellion, indorsed on the application of General Meredith a declaration that the two men in question should remain in the penitentiary while he remained Governor of Virginia. In these instances there can hardly be a doubt but that these two men are undergoing humiliation and suffering because of their connection with the Federal Government on the pretense of being subjected to a penalty for negro stealing.
I suppose it unnecessary to proceed further into detail to show to the satisfaction of every one who is willing to accept the truth that the practice of the South has been and is entirely in keeping with the spirit of Mr. Davis' message to the rebel Congress, or is carried beyond it, and that there has not been up to the present time the slightest indication of a purpose to relax, in any respect whatever, the execution of their declared policy in the treatment of colored troops and their white officers who may fall into their hands; and I hold it to be certain that while they will keep from the light as much as possible their barbarous practices they will pursue them inexorably unless they can be made to feel that the national power is the strongest and can show itself by the actual possession of a body of their troops held in the North as prisoners of war, who, by the laws of war, are liable to be used for retaliatory purposes.
It has been supposed, even in many parts of the North, that the proposition of Mr. Ould of the 20th of October for an exchange of prisoners is fair and ought to be accepted, but it does not appear to be considered that Mr. Ould has not proposed to yield to us a certain number of prisoners of war and receive a like number in return, which would be a most happy consummation that would be at once accepted by this Government. But his proposition is that we shall deliver to him all of the prisoners in our possession, amounting now to about 40,000 men, and receive in return about 13,000 men, leaving about