HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF PENNSYLVANIA,
Fort McHenry, Md., August 9, 1861.
Colonel E. D. TOWNSEND,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Headquarters of the Army.
COLONEL: The man who is supposed to have sot one of the pickets south of the Relay House is in custody but there is no proof against him. The captain who made the examination has been here and the evidence which is purely circumstantial would not be sufficient I am satisfied to sustain an indictment by a grand jury. The soldier received a ball in his wrist and there was some apprehension that he would lose his hand. I have thought it best to hold the suspected person a few days longer with the hope-a faint one as I think-of procuring additional testimony. If I get none I propose to deliver him to the civil authorities unless the general-in-chief advises otherwise.
My own view of the proper course in regard to persons taken into custody by military force is not to hold them unless we have evidence sufficient to convict them before a court of competent jurisdiction. Whether in the condition of the judiciary in this portion of my department they shoul even with such evidence be surrendered for trial at this time is another question on which considerations of the public safety may have some influence. But if such evidence is absolutely wanting I suppose we should not hesitate either to release them or give them over to the prosecuring attorney to be disposed of as he may think proper.
I am, very respectfully, yours,
JOHN A. DIX,
HEADQUARTERS DIVISION OF THE POTOMAC,
August 20, 1861.
Major General JOHN A. DIX,
Commanding, &c., Baltimore, Md.
GENERAL: * * * Before many days some place will be designated where prisoners of this description can be sent for safe-keeping until everything is settled. When there is good reason to suppose that persons are giving aid and comfort to the enemy they should be arrested even when there is a want of positive proof of their guilt.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
A. V. COLBURN,
FORT McHENRY, August 25, 1861.
MY DEAR GENERAL: I inclose a letter addressed to me* by the Rev. A. Cleveland Coxe, rector of Grace Church in this city. He is a strong Union man and is therefore entitled to a respectful hearing. His letter is private, but is refers to you and therefore I take the liberty of sending it. There was an article in the Clipper (communicated) and another in the New York Herald (from a letter-writter or correspondent) commanding of my clemency in regard to the twenty-three State prisoners who passed through this city to Fort Monroe.