returned under the recent arrangement for a general exchange, while others captured eighteen months or two years ago are still retained in prison. Please inform me whether there is not some rule on this subject having reference to the length of imprisonment, or is each side at liberty to select whom it please and forward them for exchange? If there be any regulation the enemy should be required to observe it, as otherwise dissatisfaction will be caused among those of our men retained in prison by what has the appearance of partiality.
JOHN C. BRECKINRIDGE,
Secretary of War.
MARCH 4, 1865.
Respectfully returned to Honorable Secretary of War.
For more than a year I have been constantly urging the Federal authorities to make their deliveries according to date of capture, promising to observe the same rule on our part. Before the recent deliveries were made, and in view of them, I again earnestly requested that such a rule should govern them. To these applications no anser has been returned. I understand, however, that all recent deliveries from Johnson's Island are the ldest captures, and I understand (though I can get no assurance) that the same rule will be observed there in the future. In other prisons the selections were made from particular States. I shall continue to urge that deliveries shall be made from oldest captures, though I do not thing the enemy can be induced to make a distinct agreement.
When I found I could not secure a distinct agreement I directed the delivery of Federal prisoners by the following rules: (1) The sick, wounded, and disabled; (2) those whose time of service had expired; (3) those who had been kind to our people. All who did not come within one or the other of these classes were retained until the late arrangement for the delivery of all. The Confederate officers and soldiers who have been sent were selected by the enemy and not by us, because a selection on our part would be invidioius and unjust. Not one of them is a special exchange. It there has been a special exchange the parties specially exchanged can be named. It, as is sometimes charged, these special exchagnes are numerous, certainly one instance can be earily produced. I defy one, except such as are instanced in my report. Many people use the phrase 'special exchanges" unadvisedly. What they call special exchanges are really deliveries of equivalents, the enemy selecting the parties who are to be sent.
Agent of Exchange.
CITY POINT, VA., March 5, 1865 - 4.30 p. m.
Major-General THOMAS, Nashville, Tenn.:
Have any of our prisoners been delivered to you at Eastport yet? Orders have gone from Richmond to deliver all to you that are convenient to send out that way. Deliveries to the rebels are all made here.
U. S. GRANT,