in reply to a communication from the lieutenant to him. Copies of both of these letter* Colonel Burke states he has forwarded to Washington. I have asked for a copy of the colonel's letter but have not learned whether it will be given. In that letter which is obviously intended as a rebuke to some of those confined here Colonel Burke has undertaken to allude to the character and standing which my family have borne for the purpose of introducing an offensive imputation that one member of it has acted in a manner unbecoming a gentleman. This charge I claim the right distinctly and directly to repudiate and I have also to demand that an inquiry be made under your authority into the conduct of Colonel Burke and of Lieutenant Wood in relation to their treatment of those confined at this place.
I now formally charge Colonel Burke with conduct unbecoming an officer and also with neglect of duty. He has not so far as any prisoner here is aware been within this fort since on or about the 5th day of August last and in undertaking to judge of Lieutenant Wood's manner of discharging his duties toward the prisoners under his charge he must have acted upon the statements of that officer himself. The surgeon of the post and one other officer from Fort Hamilton have occasionally exchanged a few words with some of the prisoners; but whenever any of the latter have attempted to make any representations to them of our condition and treatment both of those officers have declared that these matters were not in any manner within the sphere of their duties.
There has therefore been no inspection of this prison in which upwards of 100 persons are confined which would enable Colonel Burke to judge of the accuracy of the reports which he may have received. In the absence of all such means of knowledge or information Colonel Burke has stated in an official letter that Lieutenant Wood, an officer under his command, has "devoted his whole time to promoting the comfort of prisoners here" or e effect. This statement I charge to be not warranted by the facts and to be entirely incorrect. I charge and aver that Lieutenant Wood has not only not devoted all or even much of his time to the promotting of our comfort, but that on the contrary he has neither in his general bearing nor in his conduct toward those consigned to his custody paid that attention to their comfort which even under the circumstances which the Government deemed sufficient to warrant their imprisonment they have a right to demand.
The immediate cause of the rebuke attempted to be administered to us by Colonel Burke was a letter written to a friend by Mr. F. M. Howard, my son. However strong may have been the language used in that letter it was the natural expression of feelings which are shared by every prisoner here whose opinion I have heard. Among these are many gentlemen of high character and standing in the country. No intimation has been given by Colonel Burke that any specific fact stated in the letter was not true. Should he controvert a single one my relations to the writer of the letter and the mention made by Colonel Burke in his official communication of my family to say nothing of the assurances voluntarily tendered to me by you in Fort McHenry as to the mode in which the Government considered me as entitled to be treated justify me in demanding an opportunity to substantiate it.
Having already addressed to you three communications from this place of which no notice appears to have been taken I should not
* See Volume II, this Series, case of F. Key Howard, for these letters.