of faith, unexampled in civilized warfare, the only apology or excuse was that an equal number of prisoners had been captured by the enemy. But, on calling for specifications in regard to these alleged prisoners, it was found that a considerable number represented as prisoners were not soldiers, but were non- combatants,- citizens of towns and villages, farmers, travelers, and others in civil life, not captured in battle, but taken, at their homes, on their on farms, or on the highway, by John Morgan and other rebel raiders, who put them, under a sham parole. To balance these men against rebel soldiers taken on the field would be relieving the enemy from the pressure of war and enable him to protract the contest to indefinite duration.
Second. When the Government commenced organizing colored troops the rebel leader, Davis, by solemn and official proclamation, announced that the colored troops and their white officers, if captured, would not be recognized as prisoners of war, but would be given up for punishment by the State authorities.
These proceedings of the rebel authorities were met by the earnest remonstrance and protest of this Government without effect. The offers by our commissioner to exchange man for man and officer for officer, or to receive and provide for our own soldiers, under the solemn guarantee that they should not go into the field until duly exchanged were rejected. In the meantime well-authenticated statements show that our troops held as prisoners of war were deprived of shelter, clothing, and food, and some have perished from exposure and famine. This savage barbarity could only have been practiced in the hope that this Government would be compelled, by sympathy for the suffering endured by our troops, to yield to the proposition of exchanging all the prisoners of war on both sides, paroling the excess not actually exchanged; the effect of which operation would be to enable the rebels to put into the field a new army 40,000 strong, forcing the paroled prisoners into the ranks without exchange, as was done with those paroled at Vicksburg and Port Hudson, and also to leave in the hands of the rebels the colored soldiers and officers, who are not regarded by them as prisoners of war, and therefore not entitled to the benefit of the proposed exchange.
The facts and correspondence relating to this subject are detailed in the accompanying report of Major-General Hitchcock, commissioner of exchanges.* As the matter now stands, we have over 40,000 prisoners of war, ready at any moment to be exchanged man for man and officer for officer, to the number held by the rebels. These number about 13,000 who are now supplied with food and raiment by this Government and by our benevolent and charitable associations and individuals. Two prisoners Captains Sawyer and Flinn, held by the rebels, are sentenced to death, by way of a pretended retaliation for two prisoners tried and shot as spies by command of Major-General Burnside. Two rebel officers have been designated and are held as hostages for them.
The rebel prisoners of war in our possession have heretofore been treated with the utmost humanity and tenderness consistent with security. They have had good quarters, full rations, clothing when needed, and the same hospital treatment received by our own soldiers. Indulgence of friendly visits and supplies was formerly permitted, but they have been cut off since the barbarity practiced against our prisoners became known to the Government. If it should become necessary for the protection of our men, strict retaliation will be resorted
*See Series II, Vol. VI, p. 607.