under whose direction Captain Nones had been placed, instructing him to turn over the negroes to the civil authorities of Annapolis. They acknowledged that they were runaway slaves, the property of Virginias who were secessionists, and alleged that they were on their way to Baltimore. In my letter to Colonel Roberts* I expressed the desire that no officer in this department should take negroes into custody unless they were detected in committing some criminal act in which case they might be arrested and turned over to the civil authority. I said to him also that we as a part of the military establishment of the country had nothing to do with fugitives from service; that we had no ministerial powers for their capture or surrender, and that their masters must resort to the measures provided by law for their recovery. And I directed him if negroes came into his encampment unless as laborers or servants, and if slaves without the consent of their masters, not to receive them.
Not being sure that these views accord with those of the Government I inclosed my letter to Colonel Roberts to the Secretary of War on the 8th instant asking speedy action in regard to the matter. To this letter I have received no answer. I have stated the substance of my letter to Colonel Roberts. It was not entered in my letter-book and I kept no copy. This morning Captain Nones, who came from Annapolis yesterday by my order and anchored his vessel off Fort Carroll, an unfinished work at the mouth of the lower harbor, captured two more negroes and brought me the inclosed communication. * I have ordered him to take no more into custody. He has now five slaves on board his vessel doing nothing except consuming rations. I ask your direction in regard to them. The three first are held under an order from the Secretary of the Treasury sent by telegraph from Wilmington, Del., about twelve days ago.
Unless we abstain from the reception or the capture of fugitive slaves I think we shall involve ourselves in the most serious difficulty. Their numbers will increase rapidly if it is understood that they are to be received and fed especially as we advance into Virginia; and we shall not only be oppressed by a useless burden but we shall expose ourselves to the imputation of intermeddling with a matter entirely foreign to the great questions of political right and duty involved in the civil strife which has been brought upon us by disloyal and unscrupulous men. Our cause is a holy one and should be kept free from all taint.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, yours,
JOHN A. DIX,
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF PENNSYLVANIA,
Baltimore, Md., August 23, 1861.
Captain HENRY B. NONES,
Commanding Revenue Cutter Forward.
SIR: Mr. Levin F. Donnack and Mr. Samuel Keene, of Dorchester, have come here in pursuit of the two fugitive slaves taken up by you near Fort Carroll. If you are satisfied that they are the owners as I am you will please deliver them up with the canoe and sail.
I am, respectfully, yours,
JOHN A. DIX,