This is Colonel Burke's reply to my dispatch. I send it that you may understand the whole matter.
FORT MONROE, VA., February 16, 1864.
Honorable EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War:
Your dispatch in relation to the interview between Fulton and Commissioner Ould at City Point is received. I will write and inclose the communication of Ould upon that subject. I looked upon it when made to me as an attempt to get the Government to take action through communications that should ignore me, and as a proposition for diplomatic entanglement. The Virginia Legislature has passed resolutions requesting the Confederate Government to treat with me. I have strong hopes of opening negotiations with regard to exchange.
BENJ. F. BUTLER,
HEADQUARTERS EIGHTEENTH ARMY CORPS,
DEPARTMENT OF VIRGINIA AND NORTH CAROLINA,
Fort Monroe, February 16, 1864.
Honorable E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War:
SIR: On the flag-of-truce boat which came in on the 27th of January I received the inclosed proposition from Commissioner Ould in relation to the attendance by their own surgeons of the prisoners who were sick on either side. *
That communication was addressed to General Hitchcock, and of course ignored my appointment in the matter of exchange.
As there has never been any complaint on the part of Confederate prisoners of war in our hands that they have not received proper surgical and hospital treatment, and as no pretense has been raised by the Confederate authorities to that effect, and as on our side we have received less complaint of the treatment by the rebels of our prisoners in hospitals than elsewhere, and so, as I have had occasion to know, the treatment in the hospitals by the rebels of our soldiers prisoners in their hands having been reasonably proper and sufficient, I was induced to look with some care for the motive which should require at this time this proposition from Commissioner Ould.
Acting under what I believed to be your instructions, whatever proposition looking to more than the ordinary routine of matters carried on by flag of truce would not have been received or acted upon. Of course, therefore, I did not forward it.
But, supposing it had been properly addressed, it seemed to me that it was a proposition intended to put us in the condition of admitting that our treatment of their prisoners was similar, and required like remedies to meet the case as their own; or, in other words, that we were to admit to the world that there was a necessity for them to send their surgeons to take care of their sick soldiers in our hands - an admission I should be very slow to make.
The second part of the proposition - that these surgeons might act as commissaries in delivering food, money, clothing, and medicines forwarded for the relief of the prisoners - not being accompanied by any
* See Ould to Hitchcock, January 24, p. 871.