Southern Historical Society Papers/Volume 01/April/Efforts of the Confederacy to effect an Exchange
Nor are we able at present to enter more fully into the
EFFORTS OF THE CONFEDERACY TO EFFECT AN EXCHANGE.
The mission of Vice-President A. H. Stephens, in 1863, resulted in failure, because Vicksburg and Gettysburg made the United States authorities feel that they were in a position to refuse even an audience to the "Rebel" commissioner.
General Lee's overtures to General Grant and to the Federal Government (through the United States Sanitary Commission) were equally futile; and the delegation of Andersonville prisoners, which Mr. Davis paroled to visit the President of the United States and plead for an exchange, were denied an audience, and were spurned from Washington, to carry back the sad tidings that their Government held out no hope of their release.
We have a letter from the wife of the chairman of that delegation (now dead), in which she says that her husband always said that he was more contemptuously treated by Secretary Stanton than he ever was at Andersonville.
We add upon this point the following letter in the Philadelphia Times, which was elicited by the recent discussion:
Clifton, Pennsylvania, February 7th, 1876.
I am certainly no admirer of Jefferson Davis or the late Confederacy, but in justice to him and that the truth may be known, I would state that I was a prisoner of war for twelve months, and was in Andersonville when the delegation of prisoners spoken of by Jefferson Davis left there to plead our cause with the authorities at Washington; and nobody can tell, unless it be a shipwrecked and famished mariner, who sees a vessel approaching and then passing on without rendering the required aid, what fond hopes were raised, and how hope sickened into despair waiting for the answer that never came. In my opinion, and that of a good many others, a good part of the responsibility for the horrors of Andersonville rests with General U. S. Grant, who refused to make a fair exchange of prisoners.
Henry M. Brennan,
Late Private Second Pennsylvania Cavalry.