Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 17.djvu/394
386 Southern Historical Society Papers,
carried from the fields a sufficiency of clothing and blankets to pro- tect them from weather changes. The depression of spirit conse- quent on defeat and capture, the homesickness of the prisoners, and the despondency caused by the thought that they had been left by their own Government in the hands of the enemy with no prospect of exchange, conspired to render every cause of disease more potent in its action, and were the main factors in the production of disease and death.
- How were you off for medical supplies, Doctor? " asked the re-
" We were sadly deficient in medicines, the United States Govern- ment having declared medicines contraband of war, and by the blockade prohibiting us from getting them abroad, we were thrown largely on the use of indigenous remedies.*'
The following testimony of General Grant may be of interest. In his testimony before the Committee on the Conduct of the War, February nth, 1865, General Grant's answers were as follows:
Question, It has been said that we refused to exchange prisoners because we found ours starved, diseased, unserviceable when we received them, and did not like to exchange sound men for such men.
Answer, There never has been any such reason as that. That has been a reason for making exchanges. I will confess that if our men who are prisoners in the South were really well taken care of, suffering nothing except a little privation of liberty, then, in a mili- tary point of view, it would not be good policy for us to exchange, because every man they get back is forced right into the army at once, while that is not the case with our prisoners when we receive them. In fact, the half of our returned prisoners will never go into the army again, and none of them will until after they have had a fur- lough of thirty or sixty days. Still the fact of their suffering as they do is a reason for making this exchange as rapidly as possible.
Question, ' And never has been a reason for not making the exchange ?
Answer, It never has. Exchanges having been suspended by reason of disagreements on the part of agents of exchange on both sides before I came in command of the armies of the United States, and it being near the opening of the spring campaign I did not deem it advisable or just to the men who had to fight our battles to