- Jan 24, 2017
The exchanges were suspended in the late Spring of 1863, before Grant’s victory at Vicksburg and his rising power over policy. I have not seen evidence that he played any important role in the suspension.
"On April 1, 1864, shortly after General Grant was appointed as commanding general of all Union forces, he visited General Butler at Fort Monroe. Butler advised him of the difficulties thus far experienced in the exchange negotiations, and of the large number of Confederate prisoners still in Union prisons. On April 17, General Grant ordered all exchanges to cease.
Meanwhile, the public in the north, and Union prisoners themselves, were increasing pressure on the government to get all Union prisoners released and sent home. Prisoners in Andersonville, Georgia, submitted a petition to the Union government to "effect our speedy release, either on parole or by exchange."
Looks like Grant had the last word, though exchanges up to that point appear not to have been very effective in the circumstances with disagreements ongoing.
This may be where @major bill takes his point:
It is possible both sides used the treatment of POWs for political advantage. Neither side seems to have overly suffered any real consequences for doing so.
As they explained:
No one can know the horrors of imprisonment in crowded and filthy quarters but him who has endured it . . . . But hunger, filth, nakedness, squalor, and disease are as nothing compared with the heartsickness that wears prisoners down . . . .
Letters from the public were also addressed to Lincoln. One example, from a concerned father whose son was in Andersonville wrote that his son:
has a family here consisting of a wife and two children in indigent circumstances . . . my said son and 30,000more brave soldiers must perish unless the Government should relieve them by bringing about an exchange.