U. S. Forces in District of West Florida and South Alabama, in which it is announced that, in consequence of information received by Major-General Canby of the employment of captured negroes upon the public works at Mobile, certain Confederate prisoners of war have been assigned to similar labor, under guard, upon the fortification of the United States.
As was substantially stated in my telegram of the 4th instant upon this subject, negroes captured from the enemy are, under the laws of the Confederate States, considered the property of their respective owners, and are either restored to them, or impressed, under act of Congress (hire being paid their owners for their services), to work for the Government.
I have never been notified of any agreement on the part of the Government of the Confederate States to exchange negroes as prisoners of war. On the contrary, I am informed, in a recent communication from Lieutenant-General Grant, through Major-General Thomas, that a general exchange has been agreed upon under the cartel of 1862, and under this informatio preparations are now in progress for the early delivery of all prisoners of war held in this department.
You will communicate this fact, and the subject of this letter, to Major-General Granger, together with the expression of my earnest regret at the threatened interruption of measures which promised the speedy alleviation of the sufferings of our many prisoners on both sides.
Very respectfully, general, your obedient servant,
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF THE GULF,
Mobile, March 6, 1865.
Major General GORDON GRANGER, U. S. Army,
Commanding District of West Florida and South Alabama:
GENERAL: Since my letter of the 4th instant I have received a communication from the lieutenant-general commanding this department in connection with yours of the 26th [ultimo], which had been forwarded to him for his consideration and action.
I am instructed to state to you that all the negro slaves working on fortifications of the Confederate States are under the laws of this Government considered the property of their respective owners, are under act of Congress impressed for such purposes, and hire for their services paid no such owners. No information has reached the military authorities of this department of any agreement upon the part of the Confederate States to exchange negroes as prisoners of war; on the contrary, in a recent communication from Lieutenant-General Grant, U. S. Army, to Lieutenant-General Taylor, commanding this department, it is distinctly stated that a general exchagne has been agreed upon in accordance with the cartel of 1862.
If you have any instructions or information going to show that the Confederate States Government has agreed to exchange negroes or consider them as prisoners of war, I have the honor to request that you will apprise me of the terms and substance of such instructions or information in order that I may communicate the same to the lieutenant-general commanding for his consideration. In the absence of a distinct and specific agreement for such exchange the lieutenant-general commanding instructs me to state that the must adhere to the