of prisoners of war, and compelling them to respect the laws of war, if they are deaf to those of humanity.
We consider that at this time the rebel authorities owe us upon the exchange list more than all of the prisoners of war they now hold as equivalent for the prisoners paroled by Generals Grant and Banks; and even already the question has come up form General Grant's glorious battle-field at Chattanooga as to what shall be done with a body of the enemy who, having been paroled as prisoners of war at Vicksburg, have been recaptured in arms at Chattanooga without having been properly exchanged.
I ought to state here that the Government of the United States would not haggle about a few men, more or less, if it were hundreds or even thousand, if the question was the relief, and that alone, of our suffering prisoners in Richmond; but whoever considers the above statement of facts cannot fail to see that other question and points are involved, which it is not safe, if it were honorable, for this Government to overlook.
It should be stated also that an offer was made to the rebel agent some days ago to receive all of the prisoners from Richmond under a solemn pledge that they should not be allowed to take arms unless duly exchanged with the consent of the rebel authorities, without reference to existing difficulties on the subject of exchange and that this Government would pledge itself to both feed and clothe all rebel prisoners in our hands.
This proposition also was rejected, and the Secretary of War was thus greatly restricted in his means of affording immediate relief to our prisoners in Richmond but they have not overlooked. God forbid. The Secretary of War has ordered both clothing and provisions to be sent through the rebel lines to sustain them, although those supplies from the necessity of the case have been instructed to the honor and humanity of the enemy, whose agents may or may not permit the supplies to be delivered.
Meantime it is well for the country to understand that this rebellion is to be down by organized armies in the field, acting upon and destroying organized opposition to the Government, and no real progress can be made except in this direction, to which end the energies of every loyal man in the country should be devoted. The progress already made in suppressing the rebellion may afford the fullest assurance of final success, and this end will appear when it is considered that the Corps d'Afrique in the service of the Government already numbers 50,000 brave, athletic men, who are fighting in support of this Government under the guidance of a body of most earnest and intelligent officers, who count their lives as subordinate to the cause they are engaged in.
I undertake to assure my countrymen that the hopes of the most sanguine have been more than realized in the facility with which the Government has brought within its power of organization the colored population of the country, and the system contains within itself such powers of expansion that slavery in the South is inevitably destined to give way before it when this element is seen to work, as it will, in harmony with the organized loyal power of the nation directed to the preservation of republican institutions and the union of the States under one General Government, capable of given protection to the whole from both domestic disturbance and foreign invasion.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
E. A. HITCHCOCK.