TREATMENT OF PRISONERS

The Exchange Question*
Another Letter from Judge Ould
*

*
*SOUTHERN HISTORICAL SOCIETY PAPERS
Vol.4. Richmond, Va., July - Dec, 1877
No.2.  August  -  Pages 93  - 95

 
 The Exchange Question - Another Letter from Judge Ould 

[We propose to continue, from time to time, to ventilate this question, and to pile up the evidence which acquits the Confederacy o fall blame and convicts the authorities at Washington of the entire responsibility in this matter. The following letter of our Agent of Exchange is worth preserving:]

RICHMOND, July 18, 1867. 

MY DEAR SIR: 

I have read the remarkable discussion in the I offered early in August to deliver all the sick and wounded prisoners we had without requiring equivalents for them. I would have made the offer earlier but for the fact that some considerable time before I had made an offer of exchange, man for man, to which I could get no response. I waited for a response until early 
in August, and failing to receive one, I then made the offer above named, at the same time urging haste on the part of the United States government, as the mortality amongst the Federal prisoners was very great. 

During the fall I again and again urged haste, giving the same reason. I informed the Federal authorities that if they would send transportation for fifteen thousand men to the mouth of the Savannah river I would furnish that number of sick and wounded, and that I would fill up any deficiency with well prisoners. I did not require a corresponding delivery of our prisoners, though I expressed a desire that they might be sent. From early in August we were not only ready, but anxious to make this delivery. It was our purpose, as well as our offer, to continue the delivery of the sick and wounded at all the depots of prisoners, and upon the terms mentioned - that is, without requiting equivalents. Transportation was not sent until December. The United States authorities brought in that month some three thousand prisoners to the mouth of the Savannah river, and received over thirteen thousand in return, many of whom were well men. The three thousand delivered presented as melancholy a spectacle as Andersonville ever disclosed. Most, if not all of them, had been brought from Elmira. Some died between Elmira and Baltimore - many between Baltimore and Savannah. I do not believe ten per cent. of the number are alive now. 

All these facts are known to Federal officers.   Rebels may lie, but yet the facts is fully established by other evidence that the Federal authorities sent three thousand and received thirteen thousand. They would have received more if there had been accommodation. Why was transportation sent to Savannah for the prisoners unless I had agreed to deliver them?  Why were thirteen thousand delivered and only three thousand received if I insisted on receiving equivalents?  There is nothing in the published correspondence referred to by General Butler which in any manner contests any one of the facts I have mentioned. 

General Mulford will sustain every thing I have herein written. He is a man of honor and courage, and I do not think will hesitate to tell the truth. I think it would be well for you to make the appeal to him, as it has become a question of veracity. 

General Butler says the proposition was made in the fall, and that seven thousand prisoners were delivered. It was in August, and over thirteen thousand were delivered. 

You can make public any portion of this letter. I defy contradiction as to any statement I have made, and challenge scrutiny. I will prove every word by Federal testimony. Who, then, is responsible for the suffering of Andersonville during the period of its most deadly mortality, from August to January? 

Yours truly, 

ROBERT OULD.


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