OFFICE COMMISSARY-GENERAL OF PRISONERS,
Washington, D. C., March 14, 1865.
Major General E. R. S. CANBY,
Commanding Military Division of West Mississippi, New Orleans, La.:
GENERAL: Lieutenant-General Grant directs that all rebel prisoners in close confinement or in irons be forwarded for special exchange for the same class of prisoners held in the South, and I respectfully request you will give the necessary orders to have all such prisoners now held at any of the stations within the Military Division of West Mississippi exchanged accordingly. Please direct that a history of each case be sent with the roll to this office. The provost-marshal at Saint Louis has been directed to forward all prisoners of the class named in Saint Louis to City Point for exchange.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Bvt. Brigadier General, U. S. Army, Commissary-General of Prisoners.
CITY POINT, VA., March 14, 1865.
General ROBERT E. LEE, Commanding C. S. Army:
Inclosed I send you copy of statement* made by Lieutenant G. W. Fitch, Twelfth U. S. Colored Troops, whose murder was attempted after his capture, and whose companions, who were captured at the same time, were murdered. It is not my desire to retaliate for acts which I must believe are unauthorized by commanders of troops in arms against the authority of the United States, but I would ask to have those barbarous practices prohibited as far as they can be controlled.
Soon after the organization of the first colored troops received into the Army of the United States a little skirmish took place between some of these troops and Confederate forces at Milliken's Bend, La., in which there were captures on both sides. Information subsequently received, and which I believe reliable, convinced me that all the white officers captured were put to death. Although I have no reason for believing this course has been persistently followed toward the officers of colored troops since that time, yet I believe it has been the practice with many officers and men in the Confederate Army to kill all such officers as may fall into their hands.
U. G. GRANT,
RICHMOND, March 14, 1865.
Brigadier General JOHN E. MULFORD, Assistant Agent of Exchange:
SIR: I beg leave to call your attention to the case of captured nurses. As I understand it, those who are not enlisted men, like surgeons, are unconditionally released. That rule, however, does not provide for the case of enlisted men who are detailed, either temporarily or permanently, to attend to sick and wounded. Unless such have the assurance that they will be speedily released, they will not run the risk of capture, and will be apt to leave their sick and wounded comrades to such attention as may be given to them by the captors.
I propose, therefore, that where enlisted men detailed as nurses are captured they be considered as a preferred class, entitled to a speedy
* See p. 19.