can read at one and the same time the proclamation of grace and pardon by the President and an accurate account of the condition of our prisoners in the hands of the rebels who would dare to raise his hand or voice in opposition to the Government of his country.
In order that it may fully appear that this stoppage of exchange, once again begun, has been from no fault on my part, I beg leave to inclose copies of every communication, official or unofficial, that has passed between me and Robert Ould, their commissioner of exchange. * Although many of them are not relevant to this precise subject, one at least will show how shallow is the pretext personal to myself upon which they refuse to treat with me.
When I was sending medicines to prevent the spread of a loathsome disease among their citizens I was not so "obnoxious" to Jefferson Davis but that the medicine was received, and the usual official courtesies passed between his agent and myself. But when a pretext was sought for to prevent a fair and honorable exchange of prisoners of war, then a cowardly proclamation, issued after I was relieved from command to his knowledge, which has lain dormant a year, is brought forward.
So long as I am honored with a command in the forces of the United States I will see to it that if a hair of the head of one of my officers or soldiers is injured, except in honorable warfare, that day shall be a day of mourning for all south of Mason and Dixon's line.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, yours,
BENJ. F. BUTLER,
CHATTANOOGA, December 28, 1863.
Lieutenant General W. J. HARDEE,
Commanding C. S. Forces, Department of Tennessee:
Your communication of the 23rd December, relative to Captain F. B. Gurley, who is now on trial for the murder of General McCook, I found here on my return from Nashville, where I have been spending a few days.
Captain Gurley being an officer in the Confederate Army does not preclude the possibility of his having committed a foul murder, for which he can be held fully amenable by the laws of war, and if found guilty punished with death.
Captain Gurley has been charged with murder not justified by any position he can possibly hold. He will receive a fair and impartial trial. If acquitted of murder he will be held as a prisoner of war. If found guilty, not being the reviewing officer myself, I am not prepared to say what action will be taken.
Whilst at Nashville I received a communication from General Forrest making the same statement of Captain Gurley's position that you do. That communication I referred to the commission which is trying his case. The same disposition will be made of your communication.
This is addressed to you at Rome, Ga., your letter having nothing to guide me as to where it was written from, and supposing that to be your present headquarters.
U. S. GRANT,
Major-General, U. S. Army.
* See Butler of Ould, December 7, and subsequent correspondence in chronological order.