Page:A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I.djvu/149

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Provisional Congress.

to New York when the application was made. I, therefore, deemed it my duty to renew the proposal for the exchange, to the constitutional Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, the only officer having control of the prisoners. To this end I dispatched an officer to him, under a flag of truce; and, in making the proposal, I informed President Lincoln of my resolute purpose to check all barbarities on prisoners of war, by such severity of retaliation on the prisoners held by us as should secure the abandonment of the practice.

This communication was received and read by the officer in command of the Army of the United States, and a message was brought from him, by the bearer of my communication, that a reply would be returned by President Lincoln as soon as possible. I earnestly hope that this promised reply, which has not yet been received, will convey the assurance that prisoners of war will be treated, in this unhappy contest, with that regard to humanity which has made such conspicuous progress in the conduct of modern warfare. As a measure of precaution, however, and until the promised reply is received, I still retain in close custody some officers captured from the enemy, whom it had been my pleasure previously to enlarge on parole, and whose fate must necessarily depend on that of the prisoners held by the enemy.

I append a copy of my communication[1] to the President and Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the report of the officer charged to deliver it, marked Doc. A.

There are some other passages in the remarkable paper to which I have directed your attention, having reference to the peculiar relations which exist between this Government and the States usually termed the border slave States, which cannot properly be withheld from notice.

The hearts of our people are animated by sentiments toward the inhabitants of these States, which found expression in your enactment refusing to consider them as enemies, or to authorize hostilities against them. That a very large portion of the people of those States regard us as brethren; that if unrestrained by the actual presence of large armies, the subversion of civil authority

  1. See page 115.