HDQRS. OFFICE ASST. AGENT OF EXCHANGE,
FLAG-OF-TRUCE STEAMER COUNTESS,
Mouth of Red River, January 12, 1865.
Colonel CHARLES C. DWIGHT,
Comr. of Exchange, Mil. Div. of West Miss., New Orleans, La.:
COLONEL: I have the honor to inform you that I am here in obedience to the wishes of General E. Kirby Smith, from whom I bring the inclosed communication to General Canby. I reached Shreveport from Texas on the 4th instant. I regret that you were unable to meet me at Galveston on the 19th ultimo. I delivered, notwithstanding, the quota of prisoners agreed on and have sent you the receipt for the same of Captain Mullany, commanding U. S. S. Bienville.
Having received at one interview of December 11, 1864, assurances that you would soon be prepared to deliver the C. S. prisoners captured at Helena, Ark., in July, 1863, and others subsequently captured by General Steele in Arkansas and those captured at Fort Butler, I am pleased to be able to inform you that I am both ready and anxious to effect a prompt delivery of their equivalents. In order to be at all times ready to accomplish this end (so much desired by both of us) I have kept the entire number of captures made by Confederate arms at Camp Ford, Tex. This number, you are aware, is large--so large that it is extremely desirable on every account that it be reduced. Unless this reduction is soon made by exchange it will become necessary to distribute the prisoners in other camps. This arrangement will diminish the facilities for future exchange, and will only be made in view of the health and comfort of the prisoners.
I take pleasure in again assuring you of my readiness to deliver the U. S. naval prisoners now in our hands for their equivalent in Confederate naval prisoners captured in Mobile Bay and elsewhere, but beg to repeat that this exchange must include Admiral Buchanan and his comrades.
I inclose a copy of Special Orders, Numbers 203, dated Houston, July 21, 1864,* referring to Mr. John Dillingham, captain of the U. S. S. Morning Light, who was allowed an opportunity to effect his exchange for Captain Fowler. Captain Dillingham having failed to accomplish the exchange, I have to ask that he be instructed to return within our lines without further delay.
I would again call your attention to that portion of my communication of 18th of November last which relates to the mechanics captured while attempting to cross the Mississippi River. I beg now to inquire what disposition it is your purpose to make of them. The general commanding directs that I accept the proposition to exchange Lieutenant-Colonel Guess for his equivalent in privates, having no officers of equal rank now in my charge. Lieutenant-Colonel Guess has been ordered to report for duty, and you having an excess of C. S. paroled men, I trust it will not be found inconvenient to release the proper equivalent at once.
The general commanding further directs that I ask the special exchange of Generals Marmaduke and Cabell, and as many others of their command as is possible, at the earliest practicable moment. General Marmaduke having received assurances from General Rosecrans that every facility should be afforded for this exchange, it is hoped that no unnecessary delay will attend it.
Colonel Robert J. Barrow, who was captured at his plantation in Louisiana and is now at Fort Lafayette, is, I learn, suffering in health from