HEADQUARTERS ROCK ISLAND BARRACKS, ILL.,
February 20, 1865.
Brigadier General WILLIAM HOFFMAN,
Commissary-General of Prisoners, Washington, D. C.:
Thirteen hundred and thirty prisoners decline to be exchanged.
A. J. JOHNSON,
Colonel, Commanding Post.
DEPT. OF EAST TENNESSEE AND SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA,
Bristol, February 20, 1865.
Brigadier General L. S. TROWBRIDGE,
Provost-Marshal-General, Department of East Tennessee:
GENERAL: I have the honor to acknowledge the reception of your communication of 8th instant, forwarding list of citizens who had been released in compliance with the agreement entered into by General Carter and myself.
You state that "A. C. Plumlee and Wm. Hall are held by the civil authorities and not as hostages." The names of these parties were on the list given me by General Carter at our interview in November last. They had been in prison, in a distant State for nearly eighteen months, in military confinement, in a military prison, and under the control of the military authorities. They were not then, and I have every reason to believe never were at any time, in the custody of the civil authorities either of the State of Tennessee or of the United States. If they are now held as prisoners of state, it can only be an afterthought, and I hold that good faith on the part of the military authorities at Knoxville requires that these parties should be released under the cartel of General Carter and myself. I would also beg leave to call your attention to the fact that W. W. Wallace was one of the parties whose name was given me by General Carter, who has long been in military confinement, and who, I am informed, was some months since brought to Knoxville for the purpose of being released, from some cause is still in custody at Knoxville. You make no allusion to him in your communication. I have understood, unofficially, that he is held as a hostage for one Seth Lea, in our custody. Why Mr. Wallace was not released and sent forward with those whose names you forward me I do not understand. If he is held for the especial purpose of being exchanged for Lea, I would remark that this is not in accordance wither with the spirit or letter of General Carter's and my agreement. I would beg leave respectfully to call your attention to the fact that our agreement in no manner contemplates an exchange; for to that, we had invariably, on previous occasions, and on the occasion of General Carter's meeting myself in November, refused to acceded. The arrangement contemplated and provided for only an unconditional release. You may not be aware of the fact, but of that General Carter had full information, that on the basis of exchange, in consequence of the condition of things between the general agents of the two Governments, no general or special arrangements could be made concerning the prisoners of this department. The consequence has been that I have not been able to effect the release of Lea from confinement, in order that I might return him to your authorities. I can accomplish his release and that of others only on the ground of the release contemplated and provided for by General Carter and myself. Whenever Wallace and others thus held by you for special