At my last interview with Major Szymanski I requested him to lay before his authorities a proposition from me to accept all our soldiers in Texas on parole, and render their equivalents as soon as they arrived from the North, which Major Szymanski has agreed to lay before General Smith and give me an early reply. I would therefore request that an application be made from the general commanding Military Division of West Mississippi for all men in Northern prisons belonging to the Trans-Mississippi Department be sent here for exchange.
Before closing, I would respectfully state that I have unofficial information that there are some 5,000 of our men paroled at or near Vicksburg. I have many that I could have exchanged, and I might add, that I could ere this have had an exchange effected for most, if not all. Having no official information I have no power to act. I am agent of exchange, and through me, I think, the negotiations should be made; otherwise my records are valueless.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
WM. H. STERLING,
Captain, First U. S. Infty., Com. and Agent for Exchange.
OFFICE ASSISTANT AGENT OF EXCHANGE,
FLAG-OF-TRUCE BOAT GENERAL HODGE,
Hog Point, April 16, 1865.
Captain W. H. STERLING,
First U. S. Infty., Com. and Agent of Exchange, U. S. A.,
New Orleans, La.:
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to acknowledge the reception of your communication of the 13th instant with accompanying documents. I am much gratified that Colonel Dwight has written to the U. S. authorities at Washington in relation to the C. S. prisoners, and recognize the high sense of honor and justice which have always marked our official intercourse.
I have the honor again to call your attention to my instructions from the general commanding the Trans-Mississippi Department, a copy of which I had the honor of presenting you at our last meeting. I regret that you were not able to specify in your communication when the prisoners will be delivered tome, as under my instructions I have to remain here until a definite answer is obtained. I have been informed that there are C. S. prisoners at Ship Island and New Orleans in confinement or on parole belonging to this department, and I will be much pleased to receive them.
Whenever you will notify me of your readiness to deliver C. S. prisoners specified in our cartel, or others in your custody, I shall promptly order an equivalent numbert be brought to our place of rendezvous; but under existing circumstances I doubt the propriety of paroling any of the U. S. prisoners now under my control.
I will avail myself of this opportunity to say that on a simple notification from you of your readiness to deliver any given number, rank and file of C. S. prisoners, you will always find me ready at the appointed time with their equivalent.
I have the honor to be, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Asst. Adjt. General and Asst. Agent for Exchange, Trans-Miss. Dept.