Page:Confederate Military History - 1899 - Volume 1.djvu/531

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The policy had been fixed at Washington, and the cab inet secret was divulged in a speech by General Butler at Lowell, Massachusetts, August, 1865, in which he in formed the public that this continued imprisonment of Union as well as Confederate soldiers was the policy of Mr. Stanton, the secretary of war. In the speech he

  • stated positively that he had been ordered by Mr. Stan-

ton to put forward the negro question to complicate and prevent exchanges," and he boastfully declared at another time that he had discharged this task so offensively as to produce the required result, thus justifying the charge made by other Northern men that the miseries and deaths of these Union soldiers were " due alone to Edwin M. Stanton s peculiar policy and dogged obstinacy. " In addition also to Grant s military reasons for desiring that no prisoners of war should be exchanged, there is given by General Butler in his official report to the committee on the conduct of the war a very remarkable personal objection to exchange, as follows: " In case the Confed erate authorities should yield to the argument, and form ally notify me that their former slaves captured in our uniform would be exchanged as other soldiers were, and that they were ready to return us all our prisoners at Andersonville and elsewhere in exchange for theirs, then I had determined with the consent of the Lieutenant General (Grant), as a last resort to prevent exchange, to demand that the outlawry against me should be formally reversed and apologized for before I would further negotiate the exchange of prisoners." General Butler coolly excuses himself in the same reports for complicity in the schemes of cruelty, by the statement " that those lives were spent as a part of the attack upon the rebellion devised by the wisdom of the general-in-chief of the armies to destroy it by depletion, depending on our superior numbers to win the victory at last. The battle for the Union was accordingly transferred in 1864 from the soldiers in the field to the sufferers in the prisons.

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