If you agree with me, I will send an officer to make such investigation, and ascertain from examination of the prisoners and the records whether there can be any foundation for this complaint.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
BENJ. F. BUTLER,
WAR DEPARTMENT, April 2, 1864.
Respectfully referred to the commissioner for exchange of prisoners. By order of the Secretary of War:
ED. R. S. CANBY,
Brigadier-General, Assistant Adjutant-General.
APRIL 5, 1864.
If General Butler can obtain the names of any men held at the Alton prison, or elsewhere, under the circumstances stated, and will furnish them to Colonel Hoffman, the Commissary-General of Prisoners, the investigation can be made with justice to all parties. I see no necessity for his sending an officer for the purpose.
E. A. HITCHCOCK,
Major-General of Volunteers.
WASHINGTON CITY, D. C., March 30, 1864.
Major General H. W. HALLECK, Chief of Staff, &c.:
SIR: On the 28th instant I addressed a letter to the Honorable Secretary of War in reference to a cartel for the exchange of prisoners, reported by Major-General Banks, and having understood that the papers have been referred to yourself, I desire to say that in the letter (with those papers) General Banks requests that the prisoners he sent North may be returned to his department for the purpose of being returned to the enemy for prisoners received by him from the enemy.
Colonel Hoffman, Commissary-General of Prisoners, informs me that General Banks sent North no prisoners except officers, and I desire now to add to the statement made by Colonel Hoffman, and which is indorsed on the papers from General Banks, that the non-commissioned officers and privates taken by General Banks at and prior to the capture of Port Hudson, amounting to several thousand men, were sent by General Banks to Mobile and were there paroled under an express agreement with the rebel General Gardner. Those men have never been exchanged.
In the midst of the controversy between General Meredith and Mr. Ould, with respect to the irregular and unauthorized proceedings of the latter in regard to the Vicksburg prisoners, Mr. Ould published a letter in a Richmond paper officially assuming to decide and declare that the deliveries made by General Banks at Mobile were not made in conformity with the cartel, and he assumed to discharge all of those men from all obligations under their parole.
Immediately on receiving intelligence of this fact, I protested against the conduct of Mr. Ould in a letter addressed to General Meredith, a copy of which was sent to Mr. Ould; but the rebel agent has never made any explanation of that proceeding.
As the commissioner of exchange, I claimed and still claim, that all of those men so delivered by General Banks were, and still are, bound by their parole, having never been exchanged.