Southern Historical Society Papers/Volume 01/April/Testimony of General B. F. Butler

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Southern Historical Society Papers: Volume 1, Number 4  (1876) 
Testimony of General B. F. Butler
Southern Historical Society Papers, April 1876

In December, 1863, Major-General B. F. Butler was appointed Special Commissioner for the exchange of prisoners on the part of the Federal Government. The infamous conduct of this officer in New Orleans had excited the detestation of the civilized world, and had caused the Confederate Government to declare him an outlaw. And yet Mr. Stanton, in selecting an agent to overcome difficulties in the way of exchange, passed by all of his other officers and selected this most obnoxious personage. What fair-minded man can doubt that the object in selecting this agent was really to prevent an exchange? But in their eager desire to effect an exchange, the Confederates finally determined to treat even with General Butler, and accordingly Judge Ould went to Fortress Monroe and had a protracted interview with him. To do General Butler justice, he seemed even more liberal in the matter of exchange than his superiors had been, and after a full discussion of all the points at issue a new cartel was agreed upon.

When all of the points had been agreed to on both sides, and copies of the new cartel made, Judge Ould said to him: "Now, General, I am fully authorized to sign that paper in behalf of my Government, and we will close the matter by signing, sealing and delivering it here and now." General Butler replied that he had not the authority to sign the paper, but would refer it to his Government, and use all of his influence to induce its approval. Lieutenant-General U. S. Grant disapproved of the arrangement, and the Federal Government refused to confirm it. We have the proof of this in several forms.