I wrote to Sec. Seward,
CITY POINT, VA., August 19, 1864.
Honorable W. H. SEWARD, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.:
I am in receipt of copy of F. W. Morse’s letter of the 22nd of July to you, inclosing copy of statement of C. W. G. in relation to deserters from this army. There are constant desertions, though but few of them go over to the enemy. Unlike the enemy, however, we do not lose our veterans and men who enter the service through patriotic motives. The men who desert are those who have just arrived and who have never done any fighting and never intended to when they enlisted. There is a class known as “bounty jumpers” of substitute men, who enlist for the money, desert, and enlist again. After they have done this until they become fearful of punishment they join their regiments in the field and desert to the enemy.
Of this class of recruits we do not get one, forever eight bounties paid, to do good service. My Provost Marshal General is preparing a statement on this subject, which will show the re-enforcements received from this class of recruits. Take the other side: the desertions from the enemy to us. Not a day passes but men come into our lines, and men, too, who have been fighting for the South for more than three years. Not infrequently a commissioned officer comes with them. Only a few days ago I sent a regiment numbering 1,000 men for duty to General Pope’s department, composed wholly of deserters from the rebel army and of prisoners who took the oath of allegiance and joined it.
There is no doubt but many prisoners of war have taken the oath of allegiance and enlisted as substitutes to get the bounty and to effect their return to the South. These men are paraded abroad as deserters who want to join the South and fight their battles, and it is through our leniency that the South expects to reap great advantages.
We ought not to make a single exchange nor release a prisoner on any pretext whatever until the war closes. We have got to fight until the military power of the South is exhausted, and if we release or exchange prisoners captured its imply becomes a war of extermination.
U. S. GRANT,
Lieutenant – General.
The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 12, p 37-8
O.R., II, vii, p 614-5