officer an opportunity of using his skill, talent, or ability for the relief of those prisoners.
No vulgar love of newspaper notoriety tyrannizes over my disposition to impede its action in behalf of suffering humanity. No man in this nation has more sympathy for the sufferings of Union people in Richmond, both civilians and soldiers, than myself, and no man more deeply laments the cruel and barbarous policy of the Richmond authorities in the treatment of the prisoners who have unhappily fallen into their hands, by which miserable and disgraceful policy they hope so to distress our people through the noblest of sympathies as to force upon the Government some action for the advantage of the political scoundrels who have not up this horrible rebellion.
General Butler himself will recollect that when the subject of his position as agent was spoken of in the War Office, in the presence of the President, the Secretary of War, and the General-in-Chief, after it became known that the rebel authorities had given notice that they would do no business with him, and that a flag of truce even should not protect him, I then expressed the opinion that the rebels could not be allowed to say who should or should not be appointed to execute the duties of the Government. It is true that there was no question made on this point, but I have a right to refer to my frank declaration at that time to show General Butler the enormity he commits when he presumes, even so remotely, to intimate a disposition on my part to interfere with any proper execution of his duties as an exchange agent out of a desire to see my name in connection with them. I advised his appointment as agent in the first place in the hope of carrying relief to our prisoners in Richmond. When I gave the opinion that he ought to be sustained as the agent I was moved by a consideration of the respect due to the Government, but with a hope that the obstacles to his intercourse with the enemy under glad of truce might be overcome. In neither case, nor at any time, have I had in view any regard to its effect upon my name or notoriety.
But the obstacles referred to have not yet been overcome, and now I do not hesitate to express my deep regret that General Butler was ever appointed the agent of exchange, for the difficulties of an advantageous intercourse with the enemy on the subject of exchange have been greatly increased, and whilst his appointment has, to a considerable extent, come to be felt in the country as an embarrassment, some of our prisoners in Richmond are writing letters of complaint, as if our Government, in the appointment of General Butler, a man known to be so offensive to the rebel authorities, had willfully disregarded the interests of the prisoners. The evidence of this latter fact is in my own hands, furnished from Libby Prison through the Governor of Wisconsin, and can be produced whenever necessary. Assuredly, in this state of facts, General Butler cannot impute to my personal motives his want of success in the duty he so earnestly sought, assuring the Department as he did that, if permitted, he could effect the release of all of our prisoners in Richmond, casting unworthy imputations upon his predecessor, General Meredith, a most amiable and honorable gentleman, for no other purpose but to have him removed out of his way.
But I pass by the further consideration of these points and beg to refer the attention of the Honorable Secretary of War to the presence, in General Butler's communication of the 19th ultimo, of a letter purporting to be from Mr. Ould, the rebel agent of exchange, addressed to myself. This letter stands in General Butler's communication as an
64 R R-SERIES II, VOL VI