delivered to him up to the 1st of January, as will appear by the paper hereto annexed. *
I could and can see no reason why we should not declare those so delivered exchanged. I am unable to see any hidden, secret, or malign influence that it can have upon any pending question. I am unable to find a single good reason against it. I find exceedingly difficult to argue a question where there seems to be but one side.
When in my former note to the Honorable Secretary of War I spoke of 750 men, I spoke of the number of individuals and not of the number reduced to privates, and the letter of Major-General Hitchcock, which would seem to contravene that number, is not too ingenuous. The objection made in that letter that "the declaration would have admitted defense if you had extended it to a number precisely corresponding to the number delivered by yourself according to the fifth article of the cartel, supposing that instrument operative," is exactly met by the case in hand, because since the last declaration of exchange only special exchanges have been made by delivery at City Point, of man for man, equivalent for equivalent, so that when the declaration of exchange states that all who have been delivered at City Point up to a given time, since the last declaration of exchange, it is saying the precise number which have been exchanged.
To the statement in the letter of General Hitchcock that "the declaration should have set out the grounds of it," I answer, the universal practice of the office has been not to do so, and this would seem to be a hypercriticism on his part, because I made the declaration and not himself, as it is made precisely as he makes such declarations.
Again, it is said that "a proper list should have been furnished of those declared to be exchanged for announcement from the Adjutant-General's Office for the information of all concerned, and Mr. Ould should have been furnished a list of those delivered to him. " To that I answer that such lists have not been announced heretofore, and such has not been the practice (see General Orders, Numbers 134, series 1862, and Nos. 10, 117, and 167, series 1863); and as to the delivery of a list to Mr. Ould, I answer that it has been done, and no man has been delivered to him without a list, and he knows who has been delivered to him without my telling him a second time, and he makes no objection on that account. As to making "the announcement by a list for the information of all concerned," if that means the officers and men who would be returned to duty because of the declaration of exchange, each one of them will be likely to remember what time he escaped from Libby Prison and Belle Isle, and each one of those will know whether he was delivered at City Point and when; therefore the announcement of the day prior to which all who had been delivered were exchanged is sufficient.
I pray the Secretary to examine, as covering this whole matter, my declaration of exchange and the copies of the general orders hereto annexed. +
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
BENJ. F. BUTLER,
* See Ould to Hitchcock, January 27, 884.
+ See General Orders, Numbers 134, Adjutant-General's Office, September 19, 1862, Vol. IV, this series, p. 540; General Orders, Numbers 10, Adjutant-General's Office, January 10, 1863, Vol. V, this series, p. 169; General Orders, Numbers 117, Adjutant-General's Office, May 9, 1863, ibid., p. 584; General Orders, Numbers 167, Adjutant-General's Office, June 8, 1863, ibid., p. 758; Butler's declaration of exchange, January 24, 1864, p. 871 ante.