Page images
PDF
EPUB

NOTE.

EXCHANGE OF PRISONERS The exchange of prisoners is a matter very easily adjusted between two belligerent nations, but in a civil war, between the established government and that portion of it in revolt, it becomes very complicated. In the former case it is only necessary to follow an established law of nations which gives equal rights and privileges to both. In the latter, by the same law, the rebellious government is supposed to have no rights at all except those of a common humanity. Theoretically, the moment they are treated as equals on this point, independent national rights are conceded. But in this as in many other cases, theories have to bend to the stern logic of events. Thus for a long time the English commissioners refused to address Washington by any other title than "George Washington, Esq.," and when pushed hard, only as “George Washington, Esq., &c. &c. &c.,” but finding they could have no intercourse with him at all except by giving him the full rank accorded him by the Continental Congress, yielded the point. So we at the outset of the war could not consent to put ourselves on an equality with the rebels by entering into any negotiations on the subject of exchange of prisoners. They had no right to take or hold prisoners--but to treat with them admitted that they had. It was worse than to acknowledge them as belligerents. If we could have suppressed the rebellion at once, this would all have been very well, but when the war became protracted it would not do to let our brave men langụish in southern prisons. On the other hand, wę dare not treat prisoners that we took as rebels, and hang them as they deserved, for it would bring 'swift retaliation and the war thus become a mere butchery. The first privateers captured were condemned as pirates, as they were, but the moment they were placed in close confinement as felons, Colonel Corcoran and other of our brave officers taken at Bull Run, were confined in the same manner, reserved for the saine fate to which they should be doomed. Besides, the prisoners on both sides soon numbered by tens of thousands, and something must be done with them. Petitions from all parts of the country poured into Washington, asking for some action on this subject, and eren State Legislatures took it up. At first the government undertook to avoid the necessity of negotiations with the rebel government by appointing commissioners to proceed south and attend to the wants of our soldiers in prison, but they of course were not permitted to go. Generals in the field were also allowed to make exchanges on their own responsibility, and individuals to procure their own exchange. Various devices and proposals were sought and made but all would not dowhumiliating as it was, we had to come to direct negotiations on the subject.

504

EXCHANGE OF PRISONERS,

It was designed at first to follow in this work the progress and changes that marked this delicate question, but it became so complicated and perplexing that it was abandoned. It is curious and interesting as a matter of history, but instead of treating of it in detail, we give the final result arrived at after more than a year's triling. It is a pity that it could not have been reached sooner on account of our brave soldiers, to whom a year's confinement in southern prisons seemed a high price to pay for a theory that after all could not be carried out. The principle on which our government acted was unquestionably right, but as before remarked, the logic of events was too strong for it. Commissioners were therefore appointed on both sides to settle the vexed question, and the following is the result of their protracted labors :

THE CARTEL AGREED UPON BY GEN. DIX FOR THE UNITED STATES, AND GEN. HILL FOR THE REBELS.

[ocr errors]

July 22, 1862. The undersigned having been commissioned by the authorities they respectively represent, to make arrangements for a general exchange of prison ers of war, have agreed to the following articles:

ARTICLE 1. It is hereby agreed and stipulated that all prisoners of war held by either party, including those taken on private armed vessels, shall be discharged upon the conditions and terms following: Prisoners to be exchanged man for man, and officer for officer; privateers to be placed upon the footing of officers and men of the navy; men and officers of lower grades may be exchanged for officers of a higher grade. And men and officers of the different services may be exchanged according to the following scale of equivalents: a General Commanding-in-Chief or an Admiral shall be exchang ed for officers of equal rank, or sixty privates or common seamen; a FlagOfficer or Major-General shall be exchanged for officers of equal rapk, or for forty privates or common seamen; a Commodore, carrying a broad pennant or a Brigadier-General shall be exchanged for officers of cqual rank, or twenty privates or common seamen; a Captain in the navy, or a Colonel shall be exchanged for officers of equal rank, or for fifteen privates or common seamen; a Lieutenant-Colonel, or a Commander in the navy, shall be exchanged for officers of equal rank, or for ten privates or common seamen; a LieutenantCommander or a Major shall be exchanged for officers of equal rank, or eight privates or common seamen. A Lieutenant or a Master in the Navy, or a Captain in the Army or Marines, shall be exchanged for officers of equal rank, or six privates or common seamen. Masters Mates in the Nayy, or Lieutenants and Ensigns in the Army, shall be exchanged for officers of equal rank,

CARTEL AGREED UPON.

505

in

or four privates or common seamen. Midshipmen and Warrant officers, in thie Navy, Masters of merchant vessels and Commanders of privateers, shall be exchanged for officers of equal rank, or three privates or cominon scamen. Second Captains, Lieutenants, or Mates of merchant vessels or privateers, and all petty officers in the Navy, and all non-commissioned oflicers in thie Army or Marines, shall be severally exchanged for persons of equal rank, or for two private soldiers or common seamen ; and private soldiers or commọn seamen shall be exchanged for each other, man for man.

Art. 2. Local, State, civil and militia rank held by persons not in actual military services will not be recognized, the basis of exchange being the grade actually held in the naval and military service of the respective parties.

Art. 3. If citizens held by either party on charges of disloyalty or any alleged civil offense are exchanged, it shall only be for citizens, captured sutlers and teamsters; and all civilians in the actual service of either party are to be exchanged for persons in similar position.

Art. 4 All prisoners of war are to be discharged on parole in ten days after their capture, and the prisoners now held, and those liereafter taken, to be transported to the points mutually agreed upon, at the expense of the capturing party. The surplus prisoners not exchanged shall not be pernitted to take up arms again, nor to serve as a military police or constabulary force

any fort, garrison or field work held by either of the respective parties, nor as guards of prisons, depots or stores, nor to discharge any daty usually performed by soldiers, until exchanged under the provisions of this cartel. The exchange is not to be considered complete until the officer or soldier exchanged for has been actually restored to the lines to which he belongs.

Art. 5. Each party upon the discharge of prisoners of the other party is authorized to discharge an equal number of their own officers or men, from parole, furnishing at the same time to the other party a list of their prisoners discharged, and of their men relieved from parole, thus enabling each party to relieve from parole such of their own officers and men as the party may choose. The lists thus mutually furnished will keep both parties advised of the true condition of the exchange of prisoners.

ART. 6. The stipulations and provisions above mentioned to be of binding obligation during the continuance of the war, it matters not which party may have the surplus of prisoners, the great principle involved being: First-An cquitable exchange of prisoners, man for man, officer for officer, or officers of higher grade exchanged for officers of lower grade, or for privates, according to the scale of equivalents. Second—That privates and officers, and men of the different services may be exchanged, according to the same scale of equivalents. Third-That all prisoners, of whatever arms, of

506

CARTEL CONTINUED.

the service are to be exchanged or paroled in ten days from the time of their
capture, if it be practicable to transfer them to their own lines in that time,
if not, as soon thereafter as practicable. Fourth-That no officer, soldier or
employee in the service of either party is to be considered as exchanged and
absolved from his parole until his equivalent has actually reached the lines of
his friends. Fifth-That the parole forbids the performance of field, garrison,
police or guard or constabulary duty.
(Sigued)

JOHN A. Dix, Major-General.
D. H. Hill, Major-General, C. S. A.

SUPLEMENTARY ARTICLES.

ART. 7 All prisoners of war now held on either side, and all prisoners hereafter taken shall be sent with all reasonable dispatch to A. M. Aiken's below Dutch Gap, on the James River, or to Vicksburg, on the Mississippi river, in the State of Mississippi, and there exchanged, or paroled until such exchange can be effected, notice being previously given by each party of the number of prisoners it will send, and the number of prisoners it will send, and the time when they will be delivered at those points, respectively; and in case the vicissitudes of war shall change the military relation of the places designated in this article, to the contending parties, so as to render the same inconvenient for the delivery and exchange of prisoners, other places bearing as nearly as may be, the present local relations of said places to the lines of said parties, shall, by mutual agreement, be substituted. But nothing in this article contained, shall prevent the commanders of two opposing armies from exchanging prisoners, or releasing them on parole, at other points mutually agreed on by said commanders.

Art. 8. For the purpose of carrying into effect the foregoing articles of agreement, each party will appoint two agents to be called “ Agents for the exchange of prisoners of war," whose duty it shall be to communicate with each other by correspondence and otherwise, to prepare the lists of prisoners, to attend to the delivery of the prisoners, at the places agreed on, and to carry out promptly, effectually, and in good faith all the detailed provisions of the said articles of agreement.

ART. 9. And in case any misundertanding 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, in order that the object of this agreement may neither be defeated nor postponed. (Sighed)

JOHN A. Dix, Major-General.
D. H. HILL, Major-General, C. S. A.

1

« PreviousContinue »