Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 06.djvu/193
Treatment of Prisoners. 183
Two Witnesses 011 the "Treatment of Prisoners "Hon. J. P. Benjamin and General B. F. Butler.
In our numbers for March and April. 1876, we very fully dis- cussed the question of " Treatment and Exchange of Prisoners " during the war. We think that we fully demonstrated that the charges made against the Confederate Government of deliberate cruelty to prisoners were false ; that our Government was more humane than the Federal Government, and that the suffering on both sides might haye been prevented by carrying out the terms of the cartel for the exchange of prisoners, for the failure of which the Federal authori- ties alone were responsible.
Our statement of the question, and the documents, facts and figures which we gave, have never been answered, and we have had abundant testimony (not only from distinguished Confederates and intelligent foreigners, but also from candid men at the North whose opinions were all the other way before reading our discussion), that our argument is conclusive and cannot be answered. But in order that we may accumulate evidence of the truth of every position we have taken in this discussion, we shall continue from time to time to introduce additional papers bearing on the question.
\Ve append the statements of two very different witnesses, given under very different circumstances. The first is a letter written by Hon. J. P. Benjamin, ex-Secretary of State of the Confederacy, to the London Times soon after the close of the war. The other is a report of General B. F. Butler's celebrated Lowell speech made in the early part of 1865, with the editorial comments of the New York World.
Letter of Mr. Benjamin.
To the Editor of the Times :
Sir I find on arrival in England that public attention is directed afresh to the accusation made by the Federal authorities that pris- oners of war were cruelly treated by the Confederates not merely in exceptional cases by subordinate officials, but systematically, and in conformity with a policy deliberately adopted by President Davis, General Lee and Mr. Seddon. As a member of the Cabinet of President Davis from the date of his first inauguration under the provisional constitution to the final overthrow of the Confede- rate Government by force of arms, as a personal friend whose rela- tions with Jefferson Davis have been of the most intimate and con- fidential nature, I feel it imperatively to be my duty to request your insertion of this letter in vindication of honorable men, who, less