for the prisoners - there is nothing of all this that Lincoln may not exact and ought not to exact if he finds us compliant enough to negotiate with the felon. The exchange will next be stopped at the first difficulty that arises upon any of these points. The intention is to compel us to certify to our own disgrace. Yankee ingenuity will exhaust itself in the invention of ever new and more humiliating conditions, and there will be no end of it until we all consent to crawl to the footstool of Lincoln with handcuffs on our hands and ropes around our necks.
Far from gaining anything by facilitating the exchange, we shall lose by it. The suspension of that exchange - the uncertainty that hangs over the fate of the 20,000 prisoners in our hands - this, more than anything else, is stopping enlistments in the Yankee armies. The war was child's play to our enemies so long as they could yield themselves prisoners with a certainty of short captivity and speedy exchange. Now, they will think twice over it. The deeper the individual stake, the more deadly the individual penalty in this war, the better for us. If it should ever come, as come it probably will, to war of extermination, we would be the sole gainers, as the Confederates would fight, must fight, even on those terms, but Yankee troops most certainly would not and dare not.
On every ground, then, of dignity, consistency, and expediency this reported action of the Virginia Legislature is shameful and pernicious. Why was it not the Legislature of some other State that conceived the base idea? Is there not too much of this secret-session work? If more such damaging rumors get abroad the people, and especially the army, will wonder what is the use of a State Legislature and a Confederate Congress.
HDQRS. DEPT. OF VIRGINIA AND NORTH CAROLINA,
Fort Monroe, Va., February 16, 1864.
Honorable ROBERT OULD,
Commissioner for Exchange, Richmond, Va.:
SIR: Private William J. Boyle, First Regiment New York Mounted Rifles, was tried and convicted for murder of the acting provost-marshal in October last. For humane motives the sentence was not executed. He made his escape by colluding with a sentinel about the 5th instant, and, as we learn from the papers, has reached Richmond. As this man is a murderer, duly convicted, it is believed the Confederate authorities will not desire to retain him, as a murderer is defined to be an enemy to all mankind.
I am willing to give you any private soldier we hold of yours in exchange for Boyle.
I inclose General Orders, Numbers 37,* containing the record of Boyle's trial and conviction.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
BENJ. F. BUTLER,
Major-General, U. S. Volunteers, Commissioner for Exchange.
HEADQUARTERS U. S. FORCES,
Port Hudson, La., February 16, 1864.
Brigadier General WIRT ADAMS, Commanding C. S. Forces, &c.:
GENERAL: By direction of Major-General Banks, commanding the U. S. forces, Department of the Gulf, I respectfully call your attention