WHY HAVE NOT PRISONERS OF WAR BEEN EXCHANGED?
But the question forces itself upon us, Why have these sufferins been so long continued? Why have not the prisoners of war been exchanged, and thus some of the darkest pages of history spared to the world? In the answer to this question must be found the test of responsibility for all the sufferings, sickness, and heart-broken sorrow that have visited more than eighty thousand prisoners within the past two years. On this question your committee can only say that the Confederate authorities have always desired a prompt and fair exchange of prisoners. Even before the establishment of a cartel they urged such exchange, but could never effect it by agreement until the large preponderance of prisoners in our hands made it the interest of the Federal authorities to consent to the cartel of July 22, 1862. The ninth article of that agreement expressly provided that in case any misunderstanding should arise it should not interrupt the release of prisoners on parole, but should be made the subject of friendly explanation. Soon after this cartel was established the policy of the enemy in seducing negro slaves from their masters, arming them and putting white officers over them to lead them against us, gave rise to a few cases in whicg questioins of crime under the internal laws of the Southern States appeared. Whether men who encouraged insurrection and murder could be held entitled to the privileges of prisoners of war under the cartel was a grave question. But these cases were few in number, and ought never to have interrupted the general exchange. We were always ready and anxious to carry out the cartel in its true meaning, and it is certain that the ninth article required that the prisoners on both sides should be released, and that the few cases as to which misunderstanding occured should be left for final decision. Doubtless if the preponderance of prisoners had continued with us exchanges would have continued. But the fortunes of war threw the larger number into the hands of our enemies. Then they refused further exchanges, and for twenty-two months this policy has continued. Our commissioner of exchange has made constant efforts to renew them. In August, 1864, he consented to a proposition which had been repeatedly made, to exchange officer for officer and man for man, leaving the surplus in captivity. Though this was a departure from the cartel, our anxiety for the exchange induced us to consent. Yet the Federal authorities repudiated their previous offer, and refused even this partial compliance with the cartel. Secretary Stanton, who has unjustly charged the Confederate authorities with inhumanity, is open to the charge of having done all in his power to prevent a fair exchange, and thus to prolong the sufferings of which he speaks; and very recently, in a letter over his signature, Benjamin F. Butler has declared that in April, 1864, the Federal Lieutenant-General Grant forbade him "to deliver to the rebels a single able-bodied man;" and more-over, General Butler acknowledges that in answer to Colonel Ould's letter consenting to the exchange, officer for officer and man for man, he wrote a reply,
not diplomatically but obtrusively and demonstratively, not for the purpose of furthering exchange of prisoners, but for the purpose of preventig and stopping the exchange, and furnishing a ground on which we could fairly stand.
these facts abundantly show that the responsibility of refusing to exchange prisoners of war rests with the Government of the United States and the people who have sustained that Government; and every sigh of captivity, every groan of suffering, every heart broken by hope