OFFICE ASSISTANT AGENT OF EXCHANGE,
Shreveport, March 25, 1865.
Colonel CHARLES C. DWIGHT,
Commissioner of Exchange, Mil. Div. of West Mississippi:
COLONEL: A month has now elapsed since our last meeting, and as yet I have received no intimation of your readiness to complete the provisions of the cartel of July 28, 1864.
The communication of Major-General Hitchcock to Major-General Canby, commanding Military Division of West Mississippi, dated August 20, 1864, which was furnished me by your courtesy, says:
In answer to your communication of the 4th instant, forwarding cartel agreed upon July 28, I have to inform you that the prisoners of war referred to in the second and third articles of said cartel will be placed at your disposal by Colonel Hoffman, Commissary-General of Prisoners, as soon as practicable, of which he will advise you.
Eight months have passed since singing the cartel, seven since the date of General Hitchcock's letter (quoted above), and more than a year since assurances were given that Major Shannon and others captured at Fort Butler (withheld by a cruel mistake) should be speedily returned; but up to this day the deliveries have not been made. I am unwilling to suppose that this extraordinary delay is intentional, but it would seem that, with all the facilities of communication and transportation at the command of the U. S. authorities, the return of these prisoners could have been sooner effected. I have promptly made all deliveries required of me by the cartel, and the delay upon the part of the Federal Government causes dissatisfaction to the C. S. military authorities.
My attention has often been called to statements in Northern papers where the miseries endured by Federal prisoners are described in the most exaggerated terms. If I may be allowed to reply to these articles through you, I have but to state, what I have said in previous communications, that all prisoners in the hands of the Confederate States Government receive the same rations which it issue to her own troops. It is not in her power to give many comforts. To save the discomforts incident to imprisonment I have always, as you bear me witness, endeavored to effect exchanges without delay. This is the settled policy of my Government.
Red River is falling rapidly, and future exchanges will necessarily and before long be attended with the additional delay and physical suffering of long marches through a country destitute of supplies. I trust this may be avoided by promptness of your part in the coming deliveries, in which I hope will be able to secure the valuable co-operation of Major-General Canby.
I regret to learn from a communication of Brevet Brigadier-General Hoffman, Commissary-General of Prisoners, U. S. Army, through Major-General Magurder, C. S. Army, that up to the 3rd of February no arrangement had been made for the exchange of Generals Marmaduke and Cabell. I hope, however, that the application of Major-General Canby has since been successful. Should I receive no intimation desiring and earlier interview I propose, if agreeable, a meeting at our usual rendezvous, Red River Landing, on the 8th of April next, when I will be prepared to receive such prisoners as you may have to deliver, which I trust will include Major Shannon, his companions of Fort Butler, the Helena prisoners, as well as those who have been held at Ship Island and New Orleans, either in confinement or no parole.