Third Pennsylvania Artillery; Hiram H. Vennum, private, Company E, Second Massachusetts Cavalry; John R. Johnston, private, Company E, Second Ohio Volunteers; Frederick A. Rew, private, Company A, Twenty-fourth Wisconsin Volunteers; Philo F. Washburn, Nineteenth Maine Volunteers; George W. Brown, Company M, Sixteenth Illinois Cavalry; Duncan V. McStewart, lieutenant; and Francis B. Cary, One hundred and forty-first Pennsylvania Volunteers?
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
BENJ. F. BUTLER,
Major-General and Commissioner for Exchange.
HDQRS. DEPT. OF VIRGINIA AND NORTH CAROLINA,
OFFICE COMMISSIONER FOR EXCHANGE,
Fort Monroe, Va., March 3, 1864.
Honorable ROBERT OULD,
Confederate Commissioner for Exchange, Richmond, Va.:
SIR: I inclose you copies of correspondence, so far as received, between General Peck and General Pickett, and instructions to General Peck from myself, in regard to the execution of certain men in North Carolina enlisted in the U. S. service. *
I desire to ask your especial attention to the threat of General Pickett that he will hang ten men for any retaliation that may be made by General Peck for the murder of men in the U. S. Army. If that threat had been made in answer to a claim that deserters from an army situated as is yours were not liable to be executed upon captured if found in arms in our ranks, it might have been possibly justified under the laws of war; but even then the question of the right of executing such persons is still worthy of careful consideration and discussion. True, General Pickett having deserted his own flag and the Army of the United States on the 25th of June, 1861, would probably know what should by the fate of a deserter found in arms against his Government; but the question will be whether he would be permitted to allow his own personal feelings to prevail in a matter of so grave importance to his brother officers and soldiers now in our hands.
I beg you, however, to observe that this threat was in answer to a claim that a negro solider enlisted in the Army of the United States, and under the protection of its Government, should not be wantonly murdered simply because that, while in the field and in the course of military operations, he, in pursuance of his duties as a soldier, shot a colonel of the Confederate Army while he was building a pontoon bridge-a meritorious act on the part of the soldier, and one because of which, under no rule of civilized warfare, should a hair head be injured.
Now, therefore, as I cannot hang any sufficient murder of General Pickett's friends or relations which would be in the nature of a personal retaliation, and which ought not to be thought of by the generals of two armies in the field, if I proceed to retaliation it must be upon the soldiers and officers of the Confederate Army that I have in my hands, as I shall most assuredly feel it my duty to do unless some period is put to such acts and such threats.
*Inclosures were Peck to Pickett, February 11 and 13; Pickett to Peck, February 16 and 17; Butler to Peck, February 17, Series I, Vol. XXXIII, pp. 866, 867, 868, 569, respectively, and Pickett to Peck, February 27, p. 994, ante.