Several boatloads were exchanged in this manner, the Richmond papers stating distinctly the method adopted by their agent, the effect of which would have been to withdraw from us all of the prisoners we held for a much less number, while the question of our claim to equivalents, under the unauthorized declarations of the rebel agent, was entirely abandoned, and there was no security of the proper treatment by the rebels of such the colored soldiers and their officers as might fall into their hands.
After some three or four boatloads had been thus exchanged our Commissary - General of Prisoners called my attention to official reports, by which it appeared that, in these last exchanges, the prisoners returned by the rebel agent for rebel prisoners delivered by us fell short of the number we were entitled to by more than five hundred men which fact I felt if my duty to state to the Secretary of War; about which time the Department decided to submit the whole subject to be disposed of by Lieutenant - General Grant, who, as I have understood, decided to require from the rebel authorities a distinct acknowledgment of the right of colored troops to be treated as prisoners of war, and if this was not conceded further exchanges were prohibited. I desire to say that I am not positive as to the source of the order just referred to, but have supposed that is proceeded from General Grant; and there the matter has rester for some time past.
I find it necessary to state as a part of the history of this matter, that our agent, Lieutenant - Colonel Mulford, has informed me that the rebel authorities in Richmond have in no single instance communicated officially with General Butler, acting in accordance with their decision that General Butler was an outlaw under the proclamation of Mr. Davis, all of the apparent intercourse having been indirect through subordinate parties, General Butler having on one occasion acted upon a letter from Mr. Ould to my address without my knowledge of sanction, thus making me officially answerable for a transaction with which I had nothing to do. But the greater part of the intercourse has been conducted through Lieutenant - Colonel Mulford, who was interposed by General Butler between himself and the rebel authorities because those authorities refused to communicate with him.
As the visit made by Mr. Ould to General Butler at Fort Monroe may seem to be in conflict with this statement, I feel obliged to say, as I am well informed, that that visit was made without official sanction on the part of the rebel authorities in Richmond. It was undertaken by Mr. Ould in the hope of accomplishing an exchange of prisoners which should give the rebels the possession of all the prisoners we held without conceding our claim to equivalents for General Grant's captures, and without affording any guarantee for the protection of our colored troops, his efforts to this end no doubt having an indirect sanction from those to whom he was officially responsible, who were doubtless willing to see accomplished, by whatever means, a scheme which promised to add greatly to the strength of their army, except that they would not in any manner, even for purpose, publicly acknowledge General Butler in any other character than that of an outlaw.
I do not wish is to be understood or implied that General Butler's position as an exchange agent has compromised the interests of the country, though he was unable to execute what he proposed when he sought the position of exchange agent; but if is not proper to leave it to be inferred from his recent statement at Lowell that he could have made exchanges without compromising the interests and honor of the