official paper, received and acted upon in due course of business, with which my name and presumed sanction is connected, and yet General Butler never sent that letter to me. He has presumed to use this letter in his secret and unauthorized intercourse with Mr. Ould, even to the extent of making it the ground of an official act which I am virtually held responsible for. General Butler interpolates the letter in question in his official communication to yourself without any explanation as to its origin or history, whilst he appeals to it as the authority for his declaration of exchange, and he leaves the letter, thus unexplained, to go upon the archives of the War Department having the appearance of a letter received and acted upon in the ordinary course of business, when General Butler knew he had no authority whatever to use this letter without first receiving the sanction of the Secretary of War. His position required him to forward the letter or a copy of it to the Secretary of War, and then to return the letter, if not otherwise ordered, to Mr. Ould, as a rebuke for the attempt to pass by himself, the appointed agent of exchange, to whom Mr. Ould's communications should have been addressed.
The letter itself is artfully written by Mr. Ould, in keeping with the character of the man, calculated expressly to convey the false impression that the business of exchange had been regularly conducted between himself and General Meredith, as General Butler's predecessor, down to the 1st of September last, and Mr. Ould then ostensibly addressing his letter to me, but knowing by his secret intercourse with General Butler that it would not only be received by General Butler but would be acted upon by him without my knowledge.
As the letter purports to be official and is addressed to me, I am thus, through this secret channel, made a party to a transaction between General Butler and Mr. Ould, which in point of fact has no official sanction and with which I had nothing to do, whilst in the communication had nothing to do, whilst in the communication of General Butler my name is so connected with the proceeding as to make it appear that the letter of Mr. Ould had not only been seen by me but that its use by General Butler had my sanction. But now, whilst I do not wish to have my name appear in public unless absolutely necessary for some sufficient public object, I do not choose to have it foisted into a public transaction, of doubtful propriety at best, with which I had nothing to do.
The letter from Mr. Ould, and which I repeat, though addressed to me as the commissioner of exchange, was never sent to me by General Butler, not only represents that the business of exchange had been duly and regularly conducted between himself and General Meredith down to the 1st of September, but was expressly written to convey the idea that the business had been subsequently fully formal and proper on Mr. Ould's part, when Mr. Ould knew that his improper conduct was the immediate cause of the unpleasant controversy between himself and General Meredith, which made further exchanges apparently impossible without a change of agents. That controversy, at what may be called its close, left us with a clear and decided claim, disputed, it is admitted, by Mr. Ould, to from 10,000 to 15,000 men, which Mr. Ould ought to have delivered to us embracing, as it would have done, nearly all of the prisoners then in rebel prisons.
But I must remark here, in order to be misunderstood, that the suspension of exchanges did not result from the consideration that the rebels held a few prisoners, more or less, improperly, but it grew out of the principles upon which our enemies were acting and which left us no alternative.