Tucker, Spence, Amiss, board of surgeons. Report of permanently disabled men (Federal prisoners) in hospital and barracks.
JANUARY 20, 1865.
Returned to Honorable Secretary of War.
I expect to send the disabled officers and men by next flag of truce. I am satisfied that an agreement to unconditionally release all disabled men would result to our disadvantage, simply because the enemy would not carry it out in good faith. They would, perhaps, make the agreement, but would not execute it.
There has existed for some time some such understanding. To unconditionally release the Federal disabled would be to surrender the advantage of charging them in account. Nay, more, we would not receive the few in similar condition that under present arrangements are sent to us. If the medical director knew as much of Yankee bad faith as I do, he would not entertain his proposition a moment.
WAR DEPARTMENT, Washington City, January 21, 1865.
Honorable SCHUYLER COLFAX,
Speaker of the House of Representatives:
SIR: In answer to the resolution of the House of Representatives of the 21st of December, calling for the correspondence in reference to the exchange of prisoners, I have the honor to submit herewith the report of the Adjutant-General, together with such communications upon the subject as have not heretofore been published.
The correspondence of Major-General Butler details the action in regard to the exchange of prisoners under the authority conferred upon him by the order of the War Department.
On the 15th of October the subject of exchanges was placed under the direction of Lieutenant-General Grant, with full authority to take any steps he might deem proper to effect the release and exchange of our soldiers and of loyal persons held as prisoners by the rebel authorities. He was instructed that it was the desire of the President that no efforts consistent with national safety and honor should be spared to effect the prompt release of all soldiers and loyal person in captivity to the rebels as prisoners of war, or on any other grounds, and the subject was committed to him with full authority to act in the premises as he should deem right and proper. Under this authority the subject of exchanges has from that time continued in his charge, and such efforts have been made as he deemed proper to obtain the release of our prisoners.
An arrangement was made for the supply of our prisoners--the articles to be distributed under the direction of our own officers, paroled for that purpose, and the corresponding privilege was extended to the rebel authorities. In order to afford every facility for relief, special exchanges have been offered whenever desired on behalf of our prisoners. Such exchanges have in a few instances been permitted by the rebel authorities, but in many others they have been denied.
A large number of exchanges, including all the sick, has been effected within a recent period. The Commissary-General of Prisoners has been directed to make a detailed report of all the exchanges that have been accomplished since the general exchange ceased. It will be furnished to the House of Representatives as soon as completed.
7 R R--SERIES II, VOL VIII