O.R.--SERIES II--VOLUME VIII [S# 121]
UNION AND CONFEDERATE CORRESPONDENCE, ORDERS, ETC., RELATING TO PRISONERS OF WAR AND STATE FROM JANUARY 1, 1865, TO THE END.--#15
March 8, 1865.
Col. R. OULD, Commissioner of Exchange:
What is the exact posture of the agreement with General Grant in regard to release of political and citizen prisoners? He says in a letter to General R. E. Lee that his views on that subject are expressed in a letter of 16th of February, but General Lee is not certain whether that letter was addressed to him or to you.
JOHN C. BRECKINRIDGE,
Secretary of War.
MARCH 8, 1865.
Respectfully returned to Honorable Secretary of War.
General Grant has written no letter to me on the subject of citizen or political prisoners. I have received a verbal assurance from Colonel Mulford that if we would release all citizen prisoners, at least an equal number of citizen prisoners would be released in return, but that he had tried in vain to persuade the Federal authorities to make any general agreement, either as to all of those now in confinement or those who might be hereafter captured. Judge Campbell informs me that General R. E. Lee forwarded to the War Department some time since a letter from General Grant, complaining of the detention of certain civilians captured at New Creek, W. Va., and proposing the release and exchange of all citizen prisoners held by military authority except those charged as spies or for offenses against the laws of war. Upon that letter Judge Campbell indorsed that--
Instructions were given some days ago to the commissioner of exchange to liberate all the citizen prisoners held by the Confederate States as soon as the exchange of the military prisoners to be delivered near Richmond was completed. The commissioner will be instructed to make an agreement for that purpose with the commissioner of the United States and to proceed with the delivery as soon as practicable. This answer will render a reply to Lieutenant-General Grant's special inquiry concerning the prisoners captured by General Rosser unnecessary.
Accordingly I directed the citizen prisoners at Salisbury and other places to be brought here for delivery and authorized Captain Hatch to deliver some at Wilmington, which has been done. I have directed the listing of all prisoners at Castle Thunder, so as to sift out such as are really prisoners of war. The list is completed today and the prisoners of war ordered to the Libby. There are not more than forty civilian prisoners (all told) within our custody. I will carry out Judge Campbell's instructions and deliver them all this week (perhaps to-morrow), unless I receive instructions to the contrary.
Agent of Exchange.