Page:A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I.djvu/373

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343
First Congress.

they were engaged in recruiting service in a State which is claimed as still one of the United States, but is also claimed by us as one of the Confederate States, must be repressed by retaliation if not unconditionally abandoned, because it would justify the like execution in every other State of the Confederacy; and the practice is barbarous, uselessly cruel, and can only lead to the slaughter of prisoners on both sides — a result too horrible to be contemplated without making every effort to avoid it.

On these and all kindred subjects you will consider your authority full and ample to make such arrangements as will temper the present cruel character of the contest, and full confidence is placed in your judgment, patriotism, and discretion that, while carrying out the objects of your mission, you will take care that the equal rights of the Confederacy be always preserved.

Very respectfully,

Jefferson Davis.


LETTER OF PRESIDENT DAVIS TO PRESIDENT LINCOLN.

Headquarters, Richmond, July 2, 1863.

Sir: As Commander in Chief of the land and naval forces now waging war against the United States, I have the honor to address this communication to you, as Commander in Chief of their land and naval forces.

Numerous difficulties and disputes have arisen in relation to the execution of the cartel of exchange heretofore agreed on by the belligerents, and the commissioners for the exchange of prisoners have been unable to adjust their differences. Their action on the subject of these differences is delayed and embarrassed by the necessity of referring each subject as it arises to superior authority for decision. I believe that I have just grounds of complaint against the officers and forces under your command for breach of the terms of the cartel, and, being myself ready to execute it at all times 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 noncombatants, aged men, women, and children; while others not only seize such property as is required for the use of your forces, 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 the 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