*SOUTHERN HISTORICAL SOCIETY PAPERS
Volume XXX.Richmond,Va.Jan -Dec 1902
Pages 77 -
|TREATMENT AND EXCHANGE OF PRISONERS.
Official Report of the History Committee of the
Grand Camp, C. V., Department of Virginia.
Read at Wytheville, Va., October 23rd, 1902.
The previous reports of the History Committee
have been published in the Papers. They
To the Grand Camp of Confederate Veterans of Virginia:
Your History Committee again returns its thanks to you, and the public,
for the very cordial
1st. That the South did not go to war to maintain, or to perpetuate, the institution of slavery.
2nd. The right of secession (the real issue of the war), and that this right was first asserted at the North, and as clearly recognized there as at the South.
3rd. That the North, and not the South, was the aggressor in bringing on the war.
4th. That on the part of the South the war
was conducted according to the principles
The last above named was the subject of our last report, in which we
drew a contrast between the way the war was conducted on our part, and
the way it was conducted by our quondam enemies, which, we think, was greatly
to the credit of the South. The subject of this report,
"TREATMENT AND EXCHANGE OF PRISONERS."
is really a continuation and further discussion of the contrast begun
in that report and a necessary sequel to that discussion. The further treatment
of this subject becomes most important too, from the fact that our people
know very little about the true state of the case, whilst both during and
since the war, the people of the North, with the superior means at
"Mr. Davis was the author, knowingly, deliberately, guiltily and wilfully
of the gigantic murder and crime at Andersonville, and I here before God,
measuring my words, knowing their full extent and import, declare, that
neither the deeds of the Duke of Alva in the Low Countries,
and he quoted and endorsed a report of a committee of the Federal Congress made during the war, in which they say:
"No pen can describe, no painter sketch, no imagination comprehend,
its fearful and unutter -able iniquity. It would seem that the concentrated
madness of earth and hell had found its final lodgment in the breasts of
those who had inaugurated the rebellion, and controlled the policy
It is true that the statement made by Mr. Blaine was denied, and its
falsity fully shown by
And it is also true that in 1876, the Rev. John Wm. Jones, D. D., who
was then editing the Southern Historical Society Papers, made a full and
masterly investigation and report on this subject, vindicating the South
and its leaders from these aspersions (for which work, as said in our last
report, the Southern people owe Dr. Jones a lasting debt of gratitude.)
(The letter of
But whilst these publications were most satisfactory to us at the time,
they, necessarily, did
It is from these letters and other contemporaneous orders and appears,
that we propose to
In doing this we do not think it either necessary or proper to revive
the tales of horror and misery contained in many of the personal recitals
of the captives on either side, such as are collected in the works of Dr.
Jones, the "Sanitary Commission," and others. Many of these
But what we are concerned about is, to show by these "official records"
The reports and correspondence relative to the exchange and treatment
of prisoners fill four
THE POLICY OF THE CONFEDERATE GOVERNMENT AS SHOWN BY ACTS OF CONGRESS, ETC.
To show the declared purpose and policy of the Confederate Government
"All prisoners of war taken, whether on land or at sea, during the pending
hostilities with the United States, shall be transferred by the captors
from time to time, and as often as convenient, to the Department of War;
and it shall be the duty of the Secretary of War, with the approval
By an Act of February, 1864, the Quartermaster-General was relieved
of this duty, and the Commissary-General of Subsistence was ordered to
provide for the sustenance of prisoners,
GENERAL LEE'S ORDERS.
General Lee, in his testimony before the Reconstruction Committee of Congress, says of the treatment of prisoners on the field:
"The orders always were, that the whole field should be treated alike.
Parties were sent out
And there is nothing in all the records, so far as we can find, which
indicates that any Department of the Confederate Government, or any representative
of any such Department, failed to carry out these orders, as far as they
were able to do so. Of course, there were times when, by reason of insufficient
transportation, and insufficient supplies of food and clothing
EXCHANGE OF PRISONERS.
From the very beginning, the Confederate authorities were anxious to
make an arrangement
"It is the desire of this Government so to conduct the war now existing as to mitigate its horrors as far as may be possible; and with this intent, its treatment of the prisoners captured by its forces has been marked by the greatest humanity and leniency consistent with public obligation. Some have been permitted to return home on parole, others to remain at large under similar conditions, within this Confederacy, and all have been furnished with rations for their subsistence, such as are allowed to our own troops."
This letter was sent to Washington by special messenger (Colonel Taylor); but he was refused an audience with Mr. Lincoln, and was forced to content himself with a verbal reply from General Scott to the effect that the letter had been delivered to Mr. Lincoln, and that he would reply to it in writing as soon as possible. But no answer ever came.
For nearly a year after the war began, although many prisoners were
captured and released
"The Northern States could not claim the rights of belligerents for
themselves, and, on the
After awhile the pressure on the Federal authorities by friends of the
prisoners was so great
The real reason for this change was that in the meantime the capture of Forts Henry and Donelson and given the Federals a preponderance in the number of prisoners. Soon, however, Jackson's valley campaign, the battles around Richmond, and other Confederate success, ave the Confederates the preponderance, and this change of conditions induced the Federals to consent to terms, to which the Confederates had always been ready to accede.
And so on July 22nd, 1862, General John A. Dix, representing the Federals, and General D. H. Hill, the Confederates, at Haxall's Landing, on James river, in Charles City county, entered into the cartel which thereafter formed the basis for the exchange of prisoners during the rest of the war whenever it was allowed by the Federals to be in operation. Article four of this cartel provided as follows:
"All prisoners of war, to be discharged on parole, in ten days after the capture, and the prisoners now held and those hereafter taken, to be transferred to the points mutually agreed upon, at the expense of the capturing party."
Article six provided that -
"The stipulations and provisions above mentioned are to be of binding obligation during the continuance of the war, it matters not which party may have the surplus of prisoners." * * * "That all prisoners, of whatever arm of the service, are to be exchanged or paroles in ten days from the time of their capture, if it be practicable to transfer them to their own line in that time; if not, as soon thereafter as practicable."
Article nine provided that -
"In case any misunderstanding shall arise in regard to any clause or
stipulation in the foregoing articles, it is mutually agreed, that such
misunderstanding shall not interrupt the release of prisoners on parole,
as herein provided; but shall be made the subject of friendly explanation,
It is readily seen that both General Dix and General Hill acted with
the utmost good faith in the formation of this cartel, with a common purpose
in view, to the carrying out of which each pledged the good faith of his
Government; and in Article 9 they made ample provision to prevent any cessation
in the work of exchanging promptly all prisoners captured during the
As was contemplated by the cartel, each of the two Governments appointed its Commissioners of Exchange to carry it into execution. On the part of the Federals, Major General E. A. Hitchcock was appointed, with two assistants, Colonel Wm. H. Ludlow, and Captain (afterward Brigadier-General) John E. Mulford, as assistants. On the part of the Confederates, the late Judge Robert Ould, of the Richmond (Va.) Bar, was the sole representative.
The writer had the privilege of knowing both General Mulford and Judge Ould well, and, in his opinion, no better selections could have been made by their respective Governments. Judge Ould was a man of splendid judicial bearing, singular honesty of purpose and kindness of heart, with capacity both in speaking and in writing, to represent his Government with unsurpassed ability.
General Mulford was a man of fair abilities, and of great kindness of heart. Of General Hitchcock and Colonel Ludlow, he can only speak from what they disclose of their characteristics in their letters. General Hitchcock exhibits a profound distrust of what he terms the "rebel" authorities in all of his letters, and frequently displays a temper and impatience, seemingly, not warranted by the surrounding circumstances. Colonel Ludlow, at times, exhibits great fairness; at other times, manifest unfairness, but always displays shrewdness and ability.
There is abundant evidence in these records to show that the true reason why Mr. Lincoln did not reply to Mr. Davis' letter of July 6th, 1861, hereinbefore quoted, was that he and the other authorities at Washington did not intend from the beginning to conduct the war, in any of its features, according to the recognized principles of civilized warfare, although they had adopted the rules of Dr. Leiber apparently for this purpose, as the law to govern the conduct of their armies in the field.
As conclusive evidence of this, it was shown in our last report that on the very day of the date of the cartel, the Federal Secretary of War, by order of Mr. Lincoln, issued an order to the military commanders in Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas, directing them to seize and use any property belonging to citizens of the Confederacy which might be "necessary or convenient for their several commands," without making any provision for compensation therefor.
About the same time, and, doubtless, by the same authority, Generals Pope and Steinwehr issued their infamous orders, also referred to in our last report. All of these orders were so contrary to all the rules of civilized warfare, and especially to those adopted by the Federal authorities themselves, that on August 1st, 1862 (just ten days from the date of the cartel), the Confederate authorities were driven to the necessity of issuing an order declaring, among other things, that Pope and Steinwehr and the commissioned officers of their commands, "had chosen for themselves (to use General Lee's words) the position of robbers and murderers, and not that of public enemies entitled, if captured, to be treated as prisoners of war." Later on, in the fall of that year, came the barbarous orders and conduct of Generals Milroy, Butler and Hunter, which led to the proclamations of outlawry against these officers, and directing that they and their commissioned officers should not be treated, if captured, as prisoners of war, and, therefore, should not be exchanged, but kept in confinement.
In September, 1862, Mr. Lincoln's emancipation proclamation was issued,
to take effect
And so, on January 16th, 1863, we find Colonel Ludlow writing to his superior, General Hitchcock, as follows:
"I have the honor to enclose to you a copy of
the Richmond Enquirer, containing Jeff. Davis' message. His determination,
avowed in most insolent terms, to deliver to the several State authorities
all commissioned officers of the United States that may hereafter be captured,
(See Series II, Vol. V., Reb. Rec., Serial 118, p. 181.)
This transaction, of which we find Colonel Ludlow thus boasting to his superior, will surely be sufficient to establish his reputation for shrewdness as a trader, or exchanger. So flagrant had been the violations of the cartel and the abuses committed by the Federals in pretending to carry it out (some of which are confessed, as we have just seen, by Colonel Ludlow), that on January 17th, 1863, Judge Ould wrote Colonel Ludlow, complaining in the strongest terms, and stating that if he (Colonel Ludlow) had any Confederate officer in his possession, or on parole, he would be exchanged for his equivalent. But that beyond that, he would not, and could not, parole commissioned officers then in his possession, but would continue to parole non-commissioned officers and privates. He said:
"This course has been forced on the Confederate Government, not only by the refusal of the authorities of the United States to respond to the repeated applications of this Government in relation to the execution of Munford, but by their persistence in retaining Confederate officers who were entitled to parole and exchange."
"You have now, of captures that are by no means recent, many officers of the Confederate service, who are retained in your military prisons East and West. Applications have been made for the release of same without success, and other have been kept in confinement so long as to justify the conclusion that you refuse both to parole and exchange." Id., pp. 186-7.
Judge Ould then called Colonel Ludlow's attention to several instances of these abuses and mistakes, and asked that they be corrected. In his letter of January 25th, 1863, he says:
"If any injustice has been done to you by our agreement, about reducing officers to privates, or in any other subject matter, I will promptly redress it." * * "There must be many officers in your and our possession who, by our agreement, made at the last interview, were declared exchanged. Such certainly ought to be mutually delivered up. The excess is on our side, but I will stand it because I have agreed to it. I must, however, insist upon the immediate delivery of such of our officers as are included in the agreement." P. 213.
On December 30th, 1862, the following order was issued by General H. W. Halleck, signing himself as "Gen'l-in-Chief:"
"No officers, prisoners of war, will be released on parole till further orders." Id., p. 248.
This, he said, was done in consequence of the course then being pursued by the Confederate authorities. But notwithstanding this order, and this action of the Confederate authorities here complained of, exchanges seemed to have gone on, the Commissioner on either side constantly complaining that his adversary had broken the cartel. And on April 11th, 1863, we find Judge Ould again writing Colonel Ludlow, saying:
"I am very much surprised at your refusal to deliver officers for those
of your own, who have been captured, paroled and released by us since the
date of the proclamation and message of President Davis. The refusal is
not only a flagrant breach of the cartel, but can be supported
In Ludlow's reply to this letter, he simply says Judge Ould was mistaken
in his charges and complains, but he did not succeeded in pointing out
one single instance in which Judge Ould
Notwithstanding all these charges and counter charges, exchanges still went on, and so we find Colonel Ludlow reporting to Secretary Stanton on May 5th, 1863, as follows:
"I have just returned from City Point, and have brought with me all my officers who have been held by the Confederates, and whom I send to City Point to-night. I have made the following declarations of exchanges:
(1) "All officers and enlisted men, and all persons, whatever may have been their classification or character, who have been delivered at City Point up to the 6th of May, 1863.
(2) "All officers who have been captured and released on parole up to April 1st, 1863, wherever they may have been captured." * * * Id., p. 559. See also p. 564.
It seems that the Confederate Congress had refused to sustain Mr. Davis,
in his suggest retaliatory measures about the treatment of officers to
the extent he had recommended, and so exchanges went on with the result
as just above reported, up to May 6th, 1863, and with but few, if any,
complaints against the Confederates of ill treatment to prisoners to that
time. But how does the case stand,in this respect, at this time, with the
Federals? We have only space
On February 9th, 1862, Judge Ould wrote Colonel Ludlow:
"I see from your own papers, that some dozen of our men captured at Arkansas Pass were allowed to freeze to death in one night at Camp Douglas. I appeal to our common instincts, against such atrocious inhumanity." Id., p. 257.
We find no denial of this charge. On May 10th,
1863, Dr. Wm. H. Van Buren, of New York,
"In our experience, we have never witnessed so painful a spectacle as that presented by these wretched inmates; without change of clothing, covered with vermin, they lie in cots, without mattresses, or with mattresses furnished by private charity, without sheets or bedding of any kind, except blankets, often in rags; in wards reeking with filth and foul air. The stench is most offensive. We carefully avoid all exaggeration of statement, but we give some facts which speak for themselves. From January 27th, 1863, when the prisoners (in number about 3,800) arrived at Camp Douglas, to February 18th, the day of our visit, 385 patients have been admitted to the hospitals, of whom 130 have died. This mortality of 33 per cent. does not express the whole truth, for of the 148 patients then remaining in the hospital a large number must have since died. Besides this, 130 prisoners have died in barracks, not having been able to gain admission even to the miserable accommodations of the hospital, and at the time of our visit 150 persons were sick in barracks waiting for room in hospital. Thus it will be seen that 260 out of the 3,800 prisoners had died in twenty-one days, a rate of mortality which, if continued, would secure their total extermination in about 320 days."
Then they go on to describe the conditions at St. Louis, showing them to be even worse than at Chicago, and after stating that the conditions of these prisons are "discreditable to a Christian people," they add:
"It surely is not the intention of our Government to place these prisoners in a position which will secure their extermination by pestilence in less than a year."
See also report of U. S. Surgeon A. M. Clark, Series II., Vol. VI., p. 371. See also Id., p. 113.
Is it not a little surprising, that when the representatives of this same "Sanitary Commission" published their savage and partisan report in september, 1864, as to the way their prisoners were being treated of skeletons alleged to have come from our prison hospitals, they did not make some allusion to the condition of things as found by them in their own hospitals?
But as further evidence of violations of the cartel, it will be seen
that on May 13th, 1863,
"Nothing is now left as to those whom our protests have failed to release, but to resort to retaliation. The Confederate Government is anxious to avoid a resort to that harsh measure. In its name I make a final appeal for that justice to our imprisoned officers and men which your own agreements have declared to be their due." Id., p. 607.
Again, on the next day, he wrote, naming several of Mosby's men who had been carried to the Old Capitol prison. He then said:
"They are retained under the allegation that they are bushwhackers and guerillas. Mosby's command is in the Confederate service, in every sense of the term. He is regularly commissioned, and his force is as strictly Confederate as any in our army. Why is this done? This day I have cleaned every prison in my control as far as I know. If there is any detention anywhere, let me know and I will rectify it. I am compelled to complain of this thing in almost every communication. You will not deem me passionate when I assure you it will not be endured any longer. If these men are not delivered, a stern retaliation will be made immediately." Id., p. 632.
And again on the 22nd, of May, 1863, he wrote, saying:
"You are well aware that for the last six months I have been presenting to you lists of Confederate officers and soldiers and Confederate citizens, who have been detained by your authorities in their prisons. Some of these, on my remonstrance, have been released and sent to us, but by far the greater number remain in captivity."
He then tells Colonel Ludlow that he is satisfied that he (Ludlow) has
tried to have these prisoners released, but without avail, and then tells
him again that the Confederates were compelled to notify him that they
must resort to retaliation; but telling him further that he
On the same day he wrote another letter calling Ludlow's attention to the report that Captains McGraw and Corbin had been tried and sentenced to be shot for recruiting for the Confederates in kentucky, and saying that if these men were executed the Confederate authorities had selected two captains for execution in retaliation; and he concludes this letter with this significant language:
"In view of the awful vortex into which things are plunging, I give you notice, that in the event of the execution of these persons, retaliation to an equal extent at least will be visited upon your own officers, and if that is found ineffectual the number will be increased. The Great Ruler of Nations must judge who is responsible for the initiation of this chapter of horrors." Id., page 690-'1.
In a letter of January 5th, 1863, Judge Ould wrote:
It is almost unnecessary to say that, of course, these complaints and threats and appeals, would not have been made, at the time, and in the manner they were made, had not just cause existed therefor, and that the Federal authorities were solely responsible for the condition of affairs then existing. (See another letter of the same date on the same page as to political prisoners.)
This being the condition of things, on May 25th, 1863, the following order was issued by the Federals:
"WAR DEPARTMENT, WASHINGTON, D. C., May 25, 1863.
"No Confederate officer will be paroled or exchanged till further orders. They will be kept in close confinement, and be strongly guarded. Those already paroled will be confined.
"H. W. HALLECK,
And similar orders were sent to all commander of General forces throughout the country. Ib., p. 696. See also pp. 706-'7, 722.
It is surely unnecessary, then, after reading these letters, and this
order, to say which side was responsible for violations of the cartel while
it remained in operation, and for the suspension
With the exception of exchanges in individual cases, this suspension
of the cartel continued.
"I believe I have just ground of complaint against the officers and forces under your command for breach of trust of the cartel, and being myself ready to execute it at all times and in good faith, I am not justified in doubting the existence of the same disposition on your part. In addition to this matter I have to complain of the conduct of your officers and troops in many parts of the country, who violate all the rules of war by carrying on hostilities, not only against armed foes, but against non-combatants, aged men, women and children, while others not only seize such property as is required for the use of your troops, but destroy all private property within their reach, even agricultural implements, and openly avow the purpose of seeking to subdue the population of the districts where they are operating by starvation that must result from the destruction of standing crops and agricultural tools.
Still again others of your officers in different
districts have recently taken the lives of prisoners who fell into their
power, and justify their act by asserting a right to treat as spies the
military officers and enlisted men under my command who may penetrate into
States recognized by us as our allies in the warfare now waged against
the United States, but claimed by the latter as having refused to engaged
in such warfare. I have therefore on different occasions been forced to
make complaints of these outrages, and to ask from you that you either
avow or disclaim having authorized them, and have failed to obtain such
answer as the usages of civilized warfare require to be given in such cases.
These usages justify and indeed require redress by retaliation as the proper
means of repressing such cruelties as are not permitted in warfare between
Christian peoples. I have notwithstanding refrained from the exercise of
such retaliation because of its obvious tendency to lead to war of indiscriminate
massacre on both sides, which would
With the view then of making our last solemn attempt
to avert such calamities, and to attest
On the 4th of July, 1863, Mr. Stephens, accompanied by Judge Ould, took
the foregoing and proceeded down the James river under flag of truce, for
the purpose of delivering the letter
See Mr. Stephens' report, Id., p. 94.
The foregoing letter of Mr. Davis exhibits the loftiest statesman-ship and Christian character, and should inspire us with a new desire to do honor to his memory, as well as fill us with pride that we had as out civil leader, one so noble, so humane, so just, and so true.
It is interesting to us to know that Mr. Davis and General Lee were
in full accord in
On the 13th of July, 1864, Mr. Seddon, the Confederate Secretary of
War, wrote to
To this inquiry General Lee replied as follows:
"I have on several occasions expressed to the Department my views as to the system of retaliation, and revolting as are the circumstances attending the murder of the citizens above mentioned, I can see nothing to distinguished them from other outrages of a like character that have from time to time been brought to the attention of the Government. As I have said before, if the guilty parties could be taken, either the officer who commands, or the soldier who executes such atrocities, I should not hesitate to advise the infliction of the extreme punishment they deserve, but I cannot think it right or politic, to make the innocent, after they have surrendered as prisoners of war, suffer for the guilty." * * *
On this letter, Mr. Davis makes this endorsement:
"The views of General Lee I regard as just and appropriate."
Contrast this letter and this endorsement with the treatment accorded
by General Sherman
But we must proceed with the subject of the exchange of prisoners: Some
time in the summer
"I now propose that all officers and men on both sides be released in conformity with the provisions of the cartel, the excess on one side or the other, to be on parole. Will you accept this? I have no expectation of an answer, but perhaps you may give one. If it does come, I hope it will be soon." Id., p. 401.
But nothing was accomplished by both of these
efforts. Some time in November or December, 1863, General B. F. Butler
was appointed the Federal Commission of Exchange. It will be remembered
that this man had been outlawed by the Confederate authorities prior to
this time, and it was openly charged, and generally believed, that
Immediately on taking charge, General Butler
says he saw Mr. Stanton, Secretary of War,
After Mr. Lincoln's emancipation proclamation went into effect, as we
have said, on January 1st, 1863, the Federals enrolled a large number of
slaves in their armies. This greatly embarrassed, as well as exasperated,
the Confederates. We have heretofore stated the stand proposed by Mr. Davis,
and recommended by him to the Confederate Congress, to turn over
The question then arose as to exchanging Negro prisoners. The Federal authorities contended that where slaves were captured by them, or when they deserted and came to them and enlisted in their armies, they thereby became free, and should be placed on the same footing with their white soldiers, in respect to exchanges, as well as in all other respects. The Confederates, on the contrary, contended that whatever might be the effect on the status of the slave by going to the Federals and enlisting in their armies, yet should they be recaptured by the Confederates, that restored them to their former status as slaves, and they should then be returned to their masters or put to work by the Confederates, and their masters compensated for their labor. In those cases where the masters did not reside in the Confederacy, or could not be ascertained, such Negroes were to be exchanged as other prisoners.
The letter from General Lee to General Grant, stating the Confederate position on this subject, is a masterpiece, whether considered from a legal, historical or statesmanlike point of view. See Series II, Vol. VII, Serial No. 120, p. 1010. General Grant in his reply, seeing that he could not answer the arguments of General Lee, contents himself with saying on this point:-
"I have nothing to do with the discussion of the slavery question; therefore decline answering the arguments adduced to show the right to return to former owners, such Negroes as are captured from our army." Id., p. 1018.
But to return to General Butler.
He says he soon learned that the Confederates were anxious to exchange
the prisoners held by them, and so he proposed to the Secretary of War
"the plan of so exchanging until we had exhausted all our prisoners held
by the Rebels, and as we should then have a surplus of some
At first Judge Ould refused to meet with General Butler at all, but
in order to resume the cartel, which he was anxious to do, this position
was soon abandoned, and so on the 30th of March, 1864, he, by appointment,
conferred with General Butler on the subject of resuming the exchange.
As the result of this interview, General Butler wrote the Secretary of
War, that with the exception of the question about the exchange of Negroes,
"All other points of difference were substantially agreed upon, so that
the exchange might go on readily and smoothly, man
"In the meantime the exchanges of sick and wounded and special exchanges were to go on."
On the first day of April, 1864, General U. s. Grant appeared on the scene, and General Butler says:
"To him the state of the negotiations as to exchange was communicated, and most emphatic verbal directions were received from the Lieutenant-General not to take any steps by which another able bodied man should be exchanged until further orders from him." Butler's book, p. 592.
And the reason assigned by General Grant for this course was that, the exchange of prisoners would so strengthen General Lee's army as to greatly prolong the war, and therefore it was better that the prisoners then in confinement should remain so, no matter what sufferings would be entailed thereby. "I said," says General Butler, "I doubted whether, if we stopped exchanging man for man, simply on the ground that our soldiers were more useful to us in Rebel prisons than they would be in our lines, however, true that might be, or speciously stated to the country, the proposition could not be sustained against the clamor that would at once arise against the administration." * * * Id., p. 594. And he adds:
"These instructions in the then state of negotiations, rendered any further exchanges impossible and retaliation useless."
This condition of affairs, for which, as we have
seen, General Grant was solely responsible, continued, with little change,
till the latter part of January, 1865. It was during this interval
On the 10th of January, 1864, in view of the large
numbers of prisoners then held on both sides and the sufferings consequently
engendered thereby, Judge Ould addressed a letter to Major (Afterwards
General Mulford), proposing to deliver all prisoners held by us for an
equivalent held by the Federals. But to this letter no reply was ever made.
On the 22nd of August he
On the 1st of October, 1864, General Lee proposed to General Grant to renew the cartel, but no agreement could be reached on the subject, and so on the 6th of October, 1864, Judge Ould addressed a letter to General Mulford and proposed, in view of the probabilities of the long confinement of prisoners on both sides, "that some measures be adopted for the relief of such as are held by either party. To that end I propose," says he, "that each Government shall have the privilege of forwarding for the use and comfort os such of its prisoners as are held by the other, necessary articles of food and clothing." * * * P. 930.
Whilst this proposition was finally accepted
by the Federals, it took a whole month to get
To this very important and humane letter, Judge Ould says, "no reply was ever made." I Southern Historical Society papers, 128. If its terms had been accepted by the Federals (and nothing could have been fairer), what sufferings would have been prevented and how many lives would have been saved? But, as we now know, General Grant did not wish to keep these men from dying in our prisons. On the contrary, he preferred that the Confederates should be burdened with caring for them when living and charged with their death should they die, and in this way he would continue to "fire the Northern heart" against us. On the same principle, and for the same reason, he not only refused to agree to let us purchase medicine and other necessary supplies for these sick prisoners, but refused for months to receive from ten to fifteen thousand, which we offered to deliver up without receiving any equivalent in return. But above all these, he did not wish them exchanged, because of the recruits which would thereby come to General Lee's army.
Notwithstanding the fact, as shown by our last report, it was by General
Grant's orders that General Sheridan devastated the Valley of Virginia
as he did, yet his considerate treatment
At the expense of being tedious then, we have thought it right to give
in much detail the facts
Mr. Charles A. Dana, the Federal Assistant Secretary of War, in an editorial in the New York Sun, commenting on the letter of Mr. Davis to Mr. James Lyons, written in reference to the strictures of Mr. Blaine, referred to in the early part of this report, said as follows:
"This letter shows clearly, we think, that the Confederate authorities, and especially Mr. Davis, ought not to be held responsible for the terrible privations, sufferings and injuries which our men had to endure while they were kept in Confederate military prisons. The fact is unquestionable, that while the Confederates desired to exchange change prisoners, to send our men home, and to get back their own, General Grant steadily and strenuously resisted such an exchange." * * *
" "It is hard on our men held in Southern prisons," said Grant, in an official communication, "not to exchange them; but it is humane to those left in the ranks to fight our battles. If we commence a system of exchanges which liberates all prisoners taken, we will have to fight on until the whole South is exterminated. If we hold those caught they are no more then dead men." * * *
"This evidence [says Dana] must be taken as conclusive. It proves that it was not the Confederate authorities who insisted on keeping our prisoners in distress, want and disease, but the commander of our own armies." * * * "Moreover [says he] there is no evidence whatever, that it was practicable for the Confederate authorities to feed our prisoners any better than they were fed, or to give them any better care and attention than they received. Te food was insufficient, the care and attention were insufficient, no doubt, and yet the condition of our prisoners was not worse than that of the Confederate soldiers in the field, except in so far as the condition of those in prison must of necessity be worse than that of men who are free and active outside."
This is the statement, as we have said, of the Federal Assistant Secretary of War, during the war, and, of course, he knew whereof he wrote. He was the man by whose authority General Miles put the shackles upon Mr. davis, when he was in prison at Fortress Monroe, and was therefore prejudiced in the highest degree against Mr. Davis and the Confederate authorities generally. And his statement must be taken as conclusive of this whole question.
When we add to this the pregnant fact that the report of the Federal Secretary of War, Mr. Stanton, dated July 19, 1866, shows that of the Federal prisoners in Confederate prisons only 22,576 died; whilst of the Confederate prisoners in Federal prisons 26,436 died, and the report of the Federal Surgeon-General Barnes, published after the war, showing that the whole number of Federal prisoners captured and confined in Southern prisons during the war was, in round numbers, 270,000 while the whole number of Confederate prisoners captured and confined in Northern prisons, was, in like round numbers, 220,000. From these two reports it will be seen that whilst there were 50,000 more prisoners in Southern than in Northern prisons, during the war, the deaths were four thousand less. The per centum of deaths in Southern prisons being under nine, while the per centum of deaths in Northern prisons was over twelve.
We think it useless to prolong this discussion, and feel confident that we can safely submit our conduct on this, as on every other point involved in the war, to the judgment of posterity and the impartial historian, and can justly apply to the Southern Confederacy, the language of Philip Stanhope Wormsley, of Oxford University, England, in the dedication of his translation of Homer's Iliad to General Robert E. Lee, "The most stainless of earthy commanders, and, except in fortune, the greatest."
"Thy Troy is fallen, thy dear land
"Ah realm of tombs: but let her bear
HISTORIES NOW USED IN OUR SCHOOLS.
We have but little to add to what was said in our former reports concerning
We understand the Board based its later action on the ground that the
edition of this work, published in 1901, contained important amendments,
as well as omissions, not found in that
But we have other objections to the book of a much more serious character.
The first is that the authors are the same in both editions, and authors
who could state the causes of the war, as stated in the first edition at
Section 521, and then state them (when objected to) as in Section 520 in
the new edition, are not, in our opinion, such historians as we should
allow to write the history for our children, it matters not if they are
Southern writers. This smacks too much of
"The book is a feeble production. The controlling idea is evidently the production of a history that would be acceptable to both North and South."
To accomplish such a task is (as it should be) an impossibility. But
we condemn this work
"Few who have looked into the history can doubt that the Union originally was, and was generally taken by the parties to it to be, a compact, dissoluble, perhaps most of them would have said, at pleasure, dissoluble certainly on breach of the articles of the Union."
And that liberal and cultured statesman and writer, Mr. Charles Francis
Adams, of Boston,
"To-day no impartial student of our constitutional history can doubt for a moment that each State ratified the form of government submitted in the firm belief that at any time it could withdraw therefrom."
With our quondam enemies thus telling the world that we had the right to do what we tried to do, and only asked to be let alone, and when we know that when we did go to war, we only went to repel a ruthless invasion of our homes and firesides, our case could not be made stronger. And we have the right, therefore, to insist that our children shall be told the truth about it, and we should be content with nothing less.
Dr. Jones in his history says:
"The seceding States not only had a perfect right to withdraw from the union, but they had amply sufficient cause for doing so, and that the war made upon them by the North was utterly unjustifiable, oppressive and cruel, and that the South could honorably have pursued no other course than to resist force with force, and make her great struggle for constitutional freedom."
Is there any doubt in the mind of any Southerner that this is the truth?
If not, then let it be so told to our children. We suffered and did and
dared enough to entitle us to have this done, and that we were unsuccessful
makes it the more important that it should be done. A successful cause
will take care of itself; an unsuccessful one must rest only on its inherent
merits, and if it can't do this, then those who supported it were rebels
and traitors. We feel, then, that we can't do better than to repeat here
what we said in our report of 1900, on the importance of the trust committed
to our hands. We then said:
GEORGE L. CHRISTIAN, Chairman.
R. T. BARTON,
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