War of the Rebellion: Serial 114 Page 0586 PRISONERS OF WAR, ETC.

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themselves of the difficulties of the occasion to organize anarchy and overthrow all forms of government the responsibility for the results whatever they are will fall upon them.

I have the honor to be, most respectfully, your obedient servant,



Washington, July 1, 1861.

Brigadier General J. K. F. MANSFIELD, U. S. Army.

SIR: Complaints are received at this department of arrest and searches in Maryland by troops from this District. You will please give directions to prevent such proceedings except for good cause and by your order and to have your own necessary orders for such arrests and searches executed by discreet officers from the native troops.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Secretary of War.


July 13, 1861.

Colonel E. D. TOWNSEND, Assistant Adjutant-General.

SIR: I find it necessary to call the attention of the commander-in-chief to the condition of Fort McHerny considered merely as a place of confinement for arrested persons. Its limited dimensions make it insufficient for the secure possession of persons whose arrest and detenton is indispensable to the public peace. I have discouraged arrests for the expression of political opinions or upon unimportant charges, and when they have been made I have promptly ordered a discharge unless important or positive testimony could be found against them; nevertheless arrests multiply to such extent as to endagner the safe-keeping of prisoners.

* *

You will allow me to suggest that prisoners may be divided into two classes-those who are detained for public safety and those who are to be tried for high crimes and misdemeanors. It is a delicate question whether persons held for trial can be even temporarily removed from the jurisdiction of the court, but is it not different with those detained for public safety alone and who are to be relieved when safety will permit? Of this class I judge the police commissioners to be. The charge against them is a negative one, an error of judgment or culpable inefficiency in the performance of official duty to which correct intention and incapacity would probably be a sufficient plea. (While I confidently assure the Government that their arrest prevented riot and that their detention is yet necessary I do not think that a trial for any positive crime can result in their conviction.) It admits of serious question whether Colonel Thomas, whose crime is that of piracy of the worst form and which was committed in the waters of the United States, perhaps in Maryland and perhaps in Virginia, must be detained and tried in this criminal district alone.

The same question arises in relation to the four prisoners arrested yesterday. They were armed and intended crime-piracy or treason-somehwere within the jurisdiction of the United States. Must they be held and tried in Baltimore alone? The condition of the public mind