Fifth. This would have been avoided and the escape prevented by the adoption of clear and distinct written orders and regulations by the military commander and the warden of the penitentiary, and the warden left to enforce their provision.
All of which is respectfully submitted.
GEO. B. WRIGHT,
Brigadier-General and Quartermaster-General of Ohio.
B. F. HOFFMAN,
RICHMOND, December 7, 1863.
TO THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE CONFEDERATE STATES: *
* * * *
EXCHANGE OF PRISONERS.
I regard to inform you that the enemy have returned to the barbarous policy with which they inaugurated the war, and that the exchange of prisoners has been for some time suspended. The correspondence of the commissioners of exchange is submitted to you by the Secretary of War, and it has already been published for the information of all now suffering useless imprisonment+. The conduct of the authorities of the United States has been consistently perfidious on this subject. An agreement for exchange in the incipiency of the war had just been concluded when the fall of Fort Donelson reversed the previous state of things and gave them an excess of prisoners. The agreement was immediately repudiated by them and so remained until the fortune of war again placed us in possession of the larger number. A new cartel was then made and under it, for months, were restored to them many thousands of prisoners in excess of those whom they held for exchange, and encampments of the surplus paroled prisoners delivered up by us were established in the United States, where the men were enable to receive the comforts and solace of constant communication with their homes and families.
In July last the fortunes of war again favored the enemy, and they were enable to exchange for duty the men previously delivered to them again those captured and paroled at Vicksburg and Port Hudson. The prisoners taken at Gettysburg, however, remained in their hands, and should have been at once returned to our lines on parole to await exchange. Instead of executing a duty imposed by the plaints dictates of justice and good faith, pretext were instantly sought for holding them in permanent captivity. General orders rapidly succeeded each other from the bureaus at Washington, placing new constructions on an agreement which had give rise to no dispute while we retained the advantage in the number of prison regard of honorable obligations almost unexampled the enemy did not hesitate, in addition to retaining the prisoners captured by them, to declare null the paroles given the prisoners captured by us in the same series of engagements and liberated on condition of not again serving until exchanged. They have since openly insisted on treating the paroles give by their own soldiers as invalid, and those of our soldiers give under precisely circumstances as binding. A succession of similar unjust pretensions has been set up in a correspondence tediously prolonged, and every device employed to cover
* For portion here omitted see Series IV.
+ See December 5, p. 654.