regret that pending existing political troubles you cannot comply with the requisition of the honorable judge. *
NEW YORK, August 13, 1861.
Honorable SECRETARY OF WAR.
DEAR SIR: I beg to apprise you of a plot to get possession of Fort Lafayette in this harbor by a surprise in order to release the Baltimore prisoners confined there. A recent visit to the fort shows me that it can be easily accomplished by a few bold men. The gates of the fort are always open and entrance is easy to any one suddenly landing. Some of the guns on Fort Hamilton point to Lafayette, but there is not a man in the garrison of Hamilton who can work a gun. Nor are there any about there except some twenty-five men in Company G, of the Texas troops, who are encamped near the fort. Fort Hamilton is also open continually to stragglers, and you may hear that some of the guns have been tampered with, especially the brass pieces that stand outside the gate.
You do not know me and therefore may question my statements, but I beg you send some agent to look at the position of matters at these forts, and I am sure you will conclude that they need attention. Fort Hamilton ought to be fully garrisoned by regulars and shut from idle stragglers, and Fort Lafayette should also be carefully guarded and no one permitted to land there or hold any communication with it. If you do not attend to this you will experience trouble and mortification I am confident.
A. G. WHITE.
COLUMBUS, August 14, 1861.
Honorable SIMON CAMERON, Secretary of War.
We have several prisoners confined at Camp Chase charged with various crimes. I now send you inclosed a statement+ of the accusations made against them by the different persons by whom they were arrested. I desire to be informed what shall be done with them.
Three of the prisoners are confined for the crimes of murder and rape. Shall they be delivered over to the civil authorities of the State in which the crime was committed, or to be tried here by court-martial?
Several of the prisoners are only accused of an expression of opinion in favor of the rebels without overt act of treason against the Government. What course is to be adopted as to prisoners of this class? Shall they be discharged on taking the oath to support the Constitution of United States or detained as prisoners of war?
Others are charged with overt acts of treason. What shall be done with this class of prisoners? Shall they be handed over to the Federal courts for trial for treason or for the present detained as prisoners of war?
I would be very glad if you would inform me of your conclusions as soon as possible as prisoners are accumulating very rapidly on our hands. You will please indicate at the bottom of the statement as to each prisoner what I shall do with him.
*See also Scott to Burke, August 12, 1861, Vol. I, this series, p. 641.