BALTIMORE, MD., Aril 26, 1865.
Brigadier-General NICHOLS, Assistant Adjutant-General:
I am at a loss to know what to do with the paroled rebel officers, soldiers, and citizens who have been permitted to enter the department for the purpose of returning to their homes. By my directions they ar held in arrest until instructions can be obtained. Most of them have no means of returning or going farther. If I retain them in custody they will have to be fed, and to get them away I must furnish them transportation, which I have no authority to do, nor I know whether to send them back to the South or let them go North. Some of them desire to take the oath of allegiance under the amnesty proclamation and claim that by so doing they can regain their residence in this State. It this admissible? The feeling here against returning rebels is so bitter that to avoid collision and bloodshed I am compelled to act cautiosly and arrest rather than let them run loose while waiting your instructions. I have the honor to invite your attention to my telegram of the 23rd isntant on the same subject. If this coming here can be stopped, it will be of great assistance to me and relieve me of great pressure.
Major-General of Volunteers.
HEADQUARTERS CAMP OF EXCHANGE,
Big Black, April 26, 1865.
[General N. J. T. DANA:]
GENERAL: I am advised the pontoons are about to be taken up and the guards on the railroad withdrawn. The terms of the stipulation entered into between General Smith and myself were that the Federal prisoners in Cahaba and Andersonville should be delivered on the Big Black for their equivalent of our men, and for this end that the country lying between the Four-Mile Bridge and the Big Black for a mile and a half on each side of the railroad, including the east of the bridge on the Big Black, should bedeclared neutral ground.
On the part of the Confederate Government we have faithfully carried out this stipulation, and at your request, and with a view to lessen the sufferings and privations of your men, I consented to their being paroled to go North before the equivalent of our men was delivered here. I have just received official information from our commissioner of exchange that our prisoners captured at Mobile are en route to be exchanged at Vicksburg, besides other of your prisoners whom I expect. The terms of the stipulation between General Smith and myself were that the prisoners and their equivalent were to be delivered on the Blig Black. I shall be obliged to remain here for some time to wait for these prisoners, and would respectfully requiest that the order withdrawing the guard, &c., may be suspended until these prisoners arrive, and the terms of the agreement entered into between General Smith and myself for our respective Governments are complied with, or at least until I can communicate with my Government and receive intructions. To withdraw the guards at this time with so short a notce would subject myself and the few officers I have with me to much inconvenience and personal hazard, as your guards are our only protection here.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
N. G. WATTS,
Colonel and Agent.