undertook to liberate from the obligations of their parole the whole of the prisoners, some 6,000 or 7,000, captured by General Banks at Port Hudson and paroled by General Banks under a special agreement with the rebel commander.
The world knows that those prisoners fell unconditionally into the hands of General Banks at the surrender of Port Hudson, and General Banks had the power to send them to the North if it had been his pleasure to do so; but he made an agreement with the rebel commander to release them on parole, and released them at Mobile in conformity with the agreement.
The cartel for the exchange of prisoners provided two places for their delivery, to wit, City Point, on James River, and Vicksburg, on the Mississippi; but it provided also that when either of these places should become unavailable by the exigencies of war for the delivery of prisoners other points might be "agreed upon" by the commanders in the field. This was precisely what happened. Vicksburg having fallen into the hands of General Grant, had by that exigency become unavailable for the delivery of captured rebel soldiers, and when subsequently General Banks came into possession of several thousand prisoners by the unconditional surrender of Port Hudson he mae an agreement with the rebel General Gardner, their commander, to deliver his prisoners on parole at Mobile, and did so.
Mr. Ould, without any proper authority whatever, assumed to write a letter on the 10th of October last, a copy of which he has not furnished us, but which has been published in a Richmond newspaper, in which he attempts to release all of those prisoners from obligation under their parole, because, as he undertakes to decide, they were not delivered at places named in the cartel, when the cartel itself provides for other places of delivery than those expressly named in the cartel when rendered necessary by the exigencies of war. In the meantime, however, it cannot be doubted that the body of men in question have been lead to fight again the Federal troops by whom they were captured but a few months since; and this, too, without having been exchanged and without having been properly released from the obligations of their parole.
Since writing the above I have received an official report from General Meredith, one point in which will be here stated, to with, that General Meredith, for the purpose of withdrawing our suffering prisoners from Richmond, distinctly proposed to Mr. Ould that he would send him 12,000 or more Confederate prisoners, as many as he might hold of our men, an receive in return our prisoners held in the South, which proposition Mr. Ould refused to accept, but said that he would agree to a general exchange, the effect of which undoubtedly would be to cancel the excess of prisoners in our hands by a delivery of about 40,000 for about 13,000; to leave the rebel authorities the entire disposition of such colored troops and their white officers as they might capture; to expose Captains Sawyer and Flinn to their fate under orders in Richmond which have never been countermanded; to turn loose again certain notorious guerrilla leaders to renew their ravages in Kentucky and Missouri (neither of which States have ever united with the so-called Souther Confederacy); to put into the field a fresh army of rebels to be captured, and, in short, we should deliberately neutralize or throw away a chief part of the power of the Government at this time, through which there may be some hope, by measures yet to be decided upon, of controlling the action of the authorities in Richmond in their treatment