War of the Rebellion: Serial 119 Page 0944 PRISONERS OF WAR AND STATE, ETC.

Search Civil War Official Records

WASHINGTON, D. C., February 12, 1864.

Honorable EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War:

SIR: The telegram from General Butler to yourself of the 10th instant, charging me with a "gross misrepresentation" to you in reference to his declaration of exchange, having been submitted to me, I have the honor to present for your consideration the following papers, to wit:

Copy, marked A,* of the telegram; B,* copy of my letter to General Butler, referred to in telegram. This letter, as will be seen, was in answer to an inquiry addressed to me by General Butler. C,* copy of a report of the 25th ultimo from General Butler to yourself, which shows the number of prisoners, supposed by him to be embraced in his declaration of exchange, to wit, 750; D,* copy of an official statement made by Colonel Hoffman, Commissary-General of Prisoners, sent to me with the note of the 1st instant, by which it will be seen that since the 1st of September last there has been received at City Point (reduced to privates) 2,921 Federal prisoners, besides 87 civilians, being an excess over the 750 supposed by General butler to be affected by his declaration of 2,171, excluding the 87 civilians. Yet General Butler states in his telegram that his declaration "affects no paroled prisoners," meaning, of course, no prisoners not exchanged. He states further that his declaration "interferes with no questions," and yet the prisoners in question were held unexchanged precisely because of the questions of "difficulty" which had interrupted the course of exchanges.

He states that his declaration is "in exact conformity with the cartel," but he does not point to the article or articles to which it "conforms," and, according to my understanding of the cartel, it is not sanctioned by any one article of that instrument, without presupposing some antecedent proceedings not reported by General Butler, and which, by the publicly recognized condition of the questions of exchanges, could not have taken place with authority.

The telegram makes an important statement not hitherto reported, so far as I know, that the declaration "is agreed to by Commissioner Ould. " this is certainly an extraordinary announcement at this late period, the declaration having been made the 24th ultimo, when the whole country is and has been under the impression, from numerous public statements on both sides of the line, that the rebel authorities have refused, and with great emphasis, to have any intercourse with General Butler. I presume to say that when General Butler's declaration reached you, which it did informally, having been even published in either a Baltimore or Philadelphia paper before it was officially communicated to yourself, you had no conception of any agreement having been entered into between General butler and Mr. Ould, and to this hour the nature meant remains an unexplained mystery, and is entirely destitute of the ordinary public sanctions which ought to authorize the intercourse of belligerents. Most assuredly no public officer in Washington under your authority has had any official notice of the resumption of exchanges between the two agents at City Point.

It appears, however, that Mr. Ould has recently made another of his characteristic declarations of exchange, which, according to the news-


*See pp. 937, 926, 873, respectively.