CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA, War Department, Richmond, December 22, 1861.
J. C. RAMSAY, Esq.,
C. S. District Attorney, Knoxville:
SIR: Your letters of the 17th and 19th instant have been received. In relation to Brownlow's case the facts are simply these: Brownlow, being concealed somewhere in the mountains, made application to General Crittenden for protection against what he called military mob or military tribunal if he came to Knoxville, professing his willingness to undergo a civil trial, i. e., a trial before a civil court, as distinguished from court-martial, and, as I understand, General Crittenden promised to protect him from any violence and from any trial before a military tribunal.
In the mean time Mr. Baxter came here and represented that Brownlow, who was entirely beyond our power and so concealed that no one could get possession of his person, was willing to leave the country and go into exile, to avoid any further trouble in East Tennessee, and proffered that Brownlow would come in and deliver himself up to be conveyed our of East Tennessee if the Government would agree to let him do so and to protect him in his exit. If Brownlow had been in our hands we might not have accepted this proposition, but deeming it better to have him as an open enemy on the other side of the line than a secret enemy within the lines, authority was given to General Crittenden to assure him of protection across the border if the came into Knoxville. It was not in our power, nor that of any one else, to prevent his being taken by process of law, and I confess it did not occur to me that any attempt would be made to take him out of the hands of the military authority. This has been done, however, and it is only regretted in one point of view-that is, color is given to the suspicion that Brownlow has been entrapped and has given himself up under promise of protection which has not been firmly kept. General Crittenden feels sensitive on this point and I share his feeling. Better that any, the most dangerous enemy, however criminal, should escape, than that the honor and good faith of the Government should be impugned or even suspected. General Crittenden gave his word only that Brownlow should not be tried by the court-martial, and I gave authority to promise him protection if he would surrender, to be conveyed across the border. We have both kept our words as far as was in our power, but every one must see that Brownlow would now be safe and at large if he had not supposed that his reliance on the promises made him would insure his safe departure from East Tennessee.
Under all the circumstances, therefore, if Brownlow is exposed to harm from his arrest, I shall deem the honor of the Government so far compromised as to consider it my duty to urge on the President a pardon for any offense of which he may be found guilty, and I repeat the expression of my regret that he was prosecuted, however evident may be his guilt.
J. P. BENJAMIN,
Secretary of War.
ORDNANCE OFFICE, Nashville, Tenn., December 23, 1861.
Colonel W. W. MACKALL,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Bowling Green, Ky.:
SIR: I have the honor to report to the general commanding the
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