commander, in agreeing to this delivery, undoubtedly took upon himself an obligation and bound his Government in honor to protect those men in their parole, and was bound not to allow them to take arms until exchanged.
If there was any question as to the propriety of the arrangement (properly speaking it was a deliberate contract between two generals in the field) it was a question for the Government of decide. It was a unique case, not at al coming under the rules of any previous practice, for there had been nothing like it; but Mr. Ould apparently upon his own motion, on the 10th of October declared all of those troops (delivered at Mobile) under no obligation to observe their paroles, their delivery not having been made at City Point. He does not deny that either capture was complete, and that they were in the actual possession of General Banks. He cannot deny that Vicksburg, one of the two points designated in the cartel as points of delivery, had passed out of the rebel hands, making a contingency contemplated in the cartel itself, upon which another place might be "agreed upon. " General Banks made na agreement with the rebel general to deliver his prisoners at Mobile, and they were accordingly paroled at Mobile.
That they were paroled in good faith, and were received in good faith by the rebel general, there can be no doubt. It is not a supposable case that either of he parties in the transaction could have acted in ignorance of the cartel, and much less with deliberate bad faith.
While Mr. Ould would thus free from the obligation of their parole several thousand men, who every honorable man will say ought to be protected in their parole, he did not hesitate subsequently to require us to consider as properly paroled a number of the helpless sick and wounded of our men whom General Lee was compelled to leave in the hospitals at Gettysburg, where some unauthorized rebel officer undertook informally to declare them paroled.
This class of paroles, made on the fire an enemy is unable to secure possession of the captured, is universally declared to be invalid. Troops cannot, in fact, be said to be captured when the enemy can neither secure them nor carry them away. With savages the rule might be different. Savages are expected, because they are savages, to murder helpless prisoners of war. But civilized warfare denounces the practice, and has established the rule that paroles are invalid when exacted under such circumstances.
It becomes my painful duty in this report to touch upon one other subject, which I would gladly pass over in silence if it were possible to do so. I refer to the treatment our men receive in the prisons of the South when captured.
The treatment of prisoners of war is a common topic of complaint between those engaged in war. It is not to be expected that prisoners of war shall uniformly receive the comforts of a camp life, much less those of a garrison life. The severe conditions of war make this next to impossible; but there are limits beyond which bad treatment cannot be permitted to go without subjecting the party permitting or inflicting in to the condemnation of the civilized word. Some of our people in the Richmond prisons and at Belle Isle have been exposed to suffering to such a degree that the terms 'shocking," "cruel," "barbarous," and "inhuman" become mild in characterizing it. History can hardly furnish a parallel to it. They have died under the hands the rebels from both the want of clothing and want of food.
I do not propose to multiply proofs of this, which I have a fearful abundance, and will content myself with reciting two or three documents, including the reports of medical officer upon the condition of a