Southern Historical Society Papers/Volume 01/April/Federal Orders Revoking Paroles

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
Southern Historical Society Papers: Volume 1, Number 4  (1876)  by Edward Davis Townsend
Federal Orders Revoking Paroles
Southern Historical Society Papers, April 1876

Though there were these difficulties in reference to exchange, and these evasions and violations of the cartel by the Federal authorities, the paroles given captured prisoners were respected until July, 1863, when the following order was issued by the Federal Secretary of War:

War Department,
Adjutant-General's Office,
Washington, July 3, 1863.

General Orders No. 209.

1. The attention of all persons in the military service of the United States is called to article 7 of the cartel agreed upon July 22d, 1862, and published in General Orders No. 142, September 25th, 1862. According to the terms of this cartel all captures must be reduced to actual possession, and all prisoners of war must be delivered at the places designated, there to be exchanged or paroled until exchange can be effected. The only exception allowed is the case of commanders of two opposing armies, who were authorized to exchange prisoners or to release them on parole at other points mutually agreed upon by said commanders.

2. It is understood that captured officers and men have been paroled and released in the field by others than commanders of opposing armies, and that the sick and wounded in hospitals have been so paroled and released in order to avoid guarding and removing them, which in many cases would have been impossible. Such paroles are in violation of general orders and the stipulations of the cartel, and are null and void. They are not regarded by the enemy, and will not be respected by the armies of the United States. Any officer or soldier who gives such parole will be returned to duty without exchange, and, moreover, will be punished for disobedience of orders. It is the duty of the captor to guard his prisoners, and if through necessity or choice he fails to do this, it is the duty of the prisoner to return to the service of his Government. He cannot avoid this duty by giving an unauthorized military parole.

3. A military parole not to serve until exchanged must not be confounded with a parole of honor to do or not to do a particular thing not inconsistent with the duty of a soldier; thus a prisoner of war actually held by the enemy may, in order to obtain exemption from a close guard or confinement, pledge his parole of honor that he will make no attempt at escape. Such pledges are binding upon the individuals giving them; but they should seldom be given or received, for it is the duty of a prisoner to escape if able to do so. Any pledge or parole extorted from a prisoner by ill usage is not binding.

4. The obligations imposed by the general, laws and usages of war upon the combatant inhabitants of a section of country passed over by an invading army closes when the military occupation ceases, and any pledge or parole given by such persons, in regard to future service, is null and of no effect.

By order of the Secretary of war.
[Signed]

E. D. Townsend, A. A. G.