These men are represented as having been quietly at their homes, awaiting their exchange, and never having violated their paroles. If such are the facts. I have to request that they may be released from confinement and returned to their homes.
I am also instructed to communicate with you relative to the arrest and detention of Mr. J. G. Pratt, a citizen of Saint Landry Parish, and Judge. A. Voorhies, of Saint Martin Parish.
On the 2nd of January, 1864, Major General W. B. Franklin transmitted to Major General R. Taylor a copy of a letter from Major General N. P. Banks, commanding Department of the Gulf, dated New Orleans, December 19, 1863, on the subject of the arrest of civilians, non-combatants, in which letter Major-General Banks deprecates the arrest of those who are not parties directly or indirectly to the contest in which we are engaged, "who should be relieved as far as possible from the suffering incident thereto. " In that letter Major-General Banks further states: "I do not approve the arrest of persons without other cause than that they are found within the lines of one army or the other; " also, "I shall gladly co-operate with General Taylor as far as possible in relieving from the horrors of war those who are not in any just sense to be considered as participants therein. " In the same letter Major-General Banks, referring to the arrest of Mr. John G. Pratt, justifies it upon the ground that "he is recognized by the officers of the Government of the United States as 'General Pratt,' engaged in the organization of military forces for the Confederate Army, &c.," and states, "if he is still in possession of his authority and in the performance of this duty he is rightly held as a prisoner of war," and further, "I have received no evidence of any change in his position in that respect; until such evidence is offered there can be no just claim for his release. "
On the receipt of the copy of Major-General Banks' letter of 19th of December, above referred to, Major-General Taylor at once released all citizens of the United States who had been arrested by him who were non-combatants, and I addressed to Colonel C. C. Dwight, commissioner on behalf of Major-General Banks, on the 4th of January, a communication, of which I inclose a copy, in which, it was believed, the evidence as to the condition of Judge Voorhies and Mr. Pratt would be satisfactory, and show that neither of these gentlemen could "in any just sense be considered as participants in the contest in which we are engaged. "
To this communication no answer has been received, and I therefore beg to call your attention and that of Major-General Franklin to the matter, in the hope that as Major-General Banks' letter was referred to Major-General Taylor by General Franklin, by whose forces the arrests were made, and acting upon the assurances therein contained, the civilians in his hands were all released by General Taylor, you will be pleased to effect the release of the gentlemen mentioned, or at least inform me of the reasons which induce their continued detention.
I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
WILL. M. LEVY,
Major and Commissioner of Exchange.
WASHINGTON, D. C., February 25, 1864.
Major General B. F. BUTLER,
Commissioner for Exchange, Fort Monroe, Va.:
GENERAL: I have the honor to inform you that instructions have been given to the commanding general, harbor of New York, to forward