War of the Rebellion: Serial 114 Page 0636 PRISONERS OF WAR, ETC.

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Washington, August 2, 1861.

Lieutenant Colonel MARTIN BURKE, U. S. Army,

Commanding, &c., Numbers 6 State Street, New York City:

Should the writ of habeas corpus come for the production in court of any of your political prisoners you will respond thereto that you deeply regret that pending existing political troubles you cannot comply with the requisition of the honorable judge.



August 2, 1861.

Bvt. Lieutenant Colonel M. BURKE,

Commanding Forts Hamilton and Lafayette.

COLONEL: To-day the U. S. marshal of this district called at this post and exhibited an order from the President of the United States empowering him to provide all that was necessary for the comfort of the citizen prisoners now confined here. After an examination of their apartments and upon being informed that provisions were being made to make them comfortable be expressed himself pleased with what had been done and that he could not see that anything further was necessary.

I remain, your obedient servant,


Second Lieutenant, Ninth Infantry, Commanding Post.


August 7, 1861.

Honorable S. CAMERON, Secretary of War.

SIR: I addressed a communication yesterday to Colonel Burke which he advises me he has forwarded to Washington. In reply he has written a note to Lieutenant Wood and instructed him to read it to us. The substance of this note was that [as] some of the letters we had written to our families if they were to find their way into the newspapers "might influence the public mind" the colonel had thought it proper to forward them all to the Headquarters of the Army. He further dated that the orders he had received were to treat us kindly but keep us safely.

As to the first point allow me to say that whatever our condition may be the minds of our friends and of al others who may feel any interest in the matter will surely be less apt to be influenced unfavorably toward the Government by knowing the truth about us than they will be by their finding that our communications with them are intercepted and that they are allowed to hear nothing whatever as to how we are treated. They will necessarily conclude that our imprisonment is exactly like that of those who used to be confined in the Bastile (as in fact it is) who were allowed to hold no communications except such as might be entirely agreeable and acceptable to their custodians. They will of course be kept in a state of great anxiety and uneasiness and their sympathies will be constantly excit. The distress that will be thus inflicted upon our families can be termed nothing less than cruelty.

In the next place it is hard to conceive how it can be reconciled with anything like the idea of kind treatment to prohibit our reception of