WASHINGTON, D. C., February 1, 1865.
Honorable EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War:
SIR: Since my letter of the 30th ultimo in reference to the exchange of prisoners my attention has been called to a statement in General Butler's address to the people of Lowell which was not contained in the report of that address as seen by me. General Butler is reported as having stated that-
In August last Mr. Ould, finding negotiations were broken off and that no exchanges were made, wrote to General Hitchcock, the commissioner at Washington, that the rebels were ready to exchange man for man all the prisoners held by them as I had proposed in December.
I desire to say that nosuch letter as General Butler describes is on my files and that I have no recollection of having sent such a letter, and that if I had received such a letter I should have sent it to General Butler himself for his own action, for the reason that he had been designated with the authority of the Secretary of War as the agent of exchange at Fort Monroe, to whom Mr. Ould should have addressed his communications. This would have been my proper course as being due to General Butler according to the position he held under the orders of the Government.
I regret that General Butler did not state how he obtained his knowledge of the letter in question instead of leaving it to be inferred that the letter not only reached me, but that its not having been acted upon was owing to some decision of mine, when General Butler knows that he had not only assumed the entire control of the business of exchange, but protested against the action of the officers in that duty, under which protest Generals Foster, at Hilton Head,a nd Canby, at New Orleans, were directed to have nothing to do with that subject. General Butler carrying this point so far finally as to order Lieutenant- Colonel Mulford not to receive any communication from Mr. Ould unless addressed to him, General Butler, and still further to gaurd against my receiving information from Mr. Ould, he directed Lieutenant- Colonel Mulford to make no reports to me, with a view as I suppose of compelling a recognition of his official character and position by the rebel authorities.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
E. A. HITCHCOCK,
Major-General of Vols., Commissioner for Exchange of Prisoners.
P. S.- I request that this letter may be added to that of the 30th ultimo referred to above.
E. A. H.
WAR DEPT., ADJT. GENERAL';S OFFICE,
Washington, February 1, 1865.
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61. Bvt. Brigadier General William Hoffman, U. S . Army, Commissary- General and Inspector of Prisoners of War, will relieve Brigadier General H. W. Wessells, U. S. Volunteers, in charge of the office of Commissary- General of Prisoners, in the city of Washington.
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By order of the Secretary of War:
E. D. TOWNSEND,