HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF WESTERN LOUISIANA, December 23, 1863.
Colonel E. L. MOLINEUX,
Commissioner on behalf of Major-General Franklin, U. S. Army:
COLONEL: In the absence of Major W. M. Levy I have the honor to acknowledge, by direction of Major-General Taylor, the receipt of your communication of the 20th instant, proposing, on the behalf of Major-General Franklin, the exchange of Captain Maltby, editor of the Ranchero, for Mr. Gatchell, the correspondent of the New York Herald, both of whom are supposed to be non-combatants and not at the time of their capture in the military service of either belligerent.
I am instructed to say that Major-General Taylor regrets he cannot accede to the proposal.
The capture and detention by the C. S. forces of Mr. Gatchell, and of others similarly situated, is resorted [to] for the purpose of putting an end, if possible, to the practice of the U. S. authorities of arresting and imprisoning private citizens of the Confederate States in nowise connected with the service at the time of their arrest.
The object of the measure would be entirely defeated by recognizing, as the offer of Major-General Franklin substantially proposes to do, these persons as prisoners of war and a proper subject of exchange in that character.
I am further instructed to state that Major-General Taylor earnestly desires to effect some general arrangement by which the non-combatants held by both belligerent may be released, and that before the correspondence between Major-General Banks and himself shall have closed a convention may be agreed upon protecting for the future persons not engaged in the military or naval service of the respective Governments from capture by either party.
I have the honor to be, colonel, with best respect, your obedient servant,
P. E. BONFORD,
First Lieutenant and Aide-de-Camp.
HEADQUARTERS NINETEENTH ARMY CORPS, New Iberia, La., December 23, 1863.
Major W. M. LEVY,
Commissioner for Exchange of Prisoners
In behalf of Major General R. Taylor, C. S. Army:
MAJOR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your favor of the 18th instant.
Major General N. P. Banks has signified his assent to Red River Landing as a place of meeting between his commissioner and one appointed by Major General R. Taylor. As soon as he appoints a commissioner and names at time I will immediately notify you.
I have to express to you may sincere regret that your escort at our last meeting suffered the loss of certain halters belonging to them, and Captain Wells of a pair of saddle-bags. Every means has been taken to ferret out the delinquents and to bring them to punishment.
I have the honor to state that I have forwarded to (care Captain E. R. Wells, assistant adjutant-general) General Green four army halters, complete, and one pair saddle-bags to make right the deficiency, and I think you will accept the apology in the same frank spirit in which it is given. Major R. A. Howard will be exchanged as you propose.