arrested on the 22nd of August last and who is yet in confinement at the corner of Thirteenth street and Pennsylvania avenue in Washington by order of the provost-marshal of the District of Columbia. At the suggestion of Colonel T. M. Key (aide, &c., of General McClellan) who states that Mr. Donnelly's release* is dependent upon the decision of a higher authority than his own, I address you in this connection.
I had the honor to file with General Porter (provost-marshal) numerous letters from the leading men of this town in relation to the uniform high character of Mr. Donnelly, and which although hurriedly gathered I beg Your Excellency will possess yourself of and allow them due weight in the examination of this case. Mr. Donnelly's offense (if any) is one that can only be by inference and implication gathered from his own words, there having been no witness against him who could or did implicate him. He freely disclosed to Colonel Key (to whom it seems belongs this class of cases) the following state of facts which I submit to Your Excellency presents no offense meriting the severe punishment he is now undergoing, to wit: That on the 5th of July last he went to Richmond, Va., upon purely private business to receive the semi-annual interest payable the 1st July upon Virginia bonds owned by his sister now in Europe. This money could be obtained in to other manner or in any other place. Than when he had completed this business he endeavored to return but was prevented from so doing by force, a pass in military parlance being demanded. He could obtain no pass in Richmond and was forced to repair to Manassas Junction to enlist the influence of Doctor Boyle (a former resident of Washington and acquaintance) in procuring the pass required. That he found Doctor Boyle, a major of the forces and provost-marshal at Manassas, and he after hearing Mr. Donnelly's statement and desire to return to his in Georgetown furnished him with a pass which enabled him to leave the Confederate lines and return here where he arrived on the 15th of August, exactly one week before his arrest. To procure this pass which was obtained only after great difficulty and delay Mr. Donnelly was obliged to pledge his honor to disclose naught concerning the situation, numbers, &c., of the forces in Virginia, which promise he considers himself bound religiously to adhere to. Saving this rigid adhereness to secrecy, which no honorable man could object to he has done nothing directly or indirectly against the United States. I should be slow to believe that the Government contemplated by continuing his confinement the coercion of an individual into a breach of faith and honor, although if no more is alleged against Mr. Donnelly such a conclusion would follow logically and almost irresistibly.
Mr. Donnelly upon his examination by Colonel Key voluntarily proposed to make oath that he had not assisted what is called the Confederate forces in any manner either directly or indirectly, and further that he would not do so at any time but in all respect would demean himself as a law-abiding citizen of the United States. He expected and intended to remain here and pursue his honest and usual calling. He gave his immediate attention to his business and not five minutes previous to his arrest had purchased a cargo of wood from vessel then at his wharf. He is in the wood and coal business. With all deference it appears to me that the proposed oath and the above facts are sufficient to entitle Mr. Donnelly to his release. Mr. Donnelly has a widowed mother and two sisters (one of them unmarried) and he is the
* See order for Donnelly's release pp. 238, 245.