This is a high and delicate trust and as you cannot fail to perceive to be executed with judgment and discretion. Nevertheless in time of civil strife errors if any should be on the side of safety to the country. This is the language of the general-in-chief himself, who desires an early report from you on the subject of the number of troops deemed necessary for your department.
I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
E. D. TOWNSEND,
P. S. -The lieutenant-general desires me to add that he has just been instructed by highest authority to cause Mr. Ross Winans, of Baltimore, now a military prisoner at Fort McHenry to be liberated on condition of his written parole to this effect: "I solemly give my parole of honor that I will not openly or covertly commit any act of hostility against the Government of the United States pending existing troubles or hostilities between the said Government and the Southern seceded States or any one of them. "
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF ANNAPOLIS,
Baltimore, May 16, 1861.
Lieutenant Colonel E. D. TOWNSEND,
SIR: * * * On receipt of your letter which gaveme the first official [information] I had that Mr. Ross Winans was a military prisoner at Fort McHenry I sent an officer to read to him the condition of the wirtten parole upon acceptance of which I was instructed to liberate him. The result was that Mr. Winans signed the parole and was immediately liberated. I inclose the parole* duly signed and witnessed.
The power to arres persons under such circumstances and to hold them prisoners though they should be demanded by writs of habeas corpus is certainly a high and delicate trust. I will use every effort to execute it if necessary with prudence and discretion and with the best judgment I am capable of giving to the subject. As a matter of caution I wold merely state that I did not receive any further power to arrest persons under circumstances than that which is contained in your letter of this date, as your letter seems to imply that. I was to receive a power with instructions to accompany the letter. Awaiting your orders either by letter or telegraph.
I am, very respectfully, yours,
Brevet Major-General, Commanding.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF PENNSYLVANIA,
Philadelphia, Pa., May 21, 1861.
Colonel E. D. TOWNSEND,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Headquarters of the Army.
COLONEL: In the absence of General Patterson I forward the accompanying report of the capture of parties engaged in the burning of bridges. I suggested to Colonel Dare that he should ascertain if the
*See p. 689.