HDQRS. CITY GUARD, PROVOST-MARSHAL'S OFFICE, Washington, D. C, January -, 1862.
Brigadier General A. PORTER, Provost-Marshal, Washington, D. C.
GENERAL: I have the honor to report that of January 13, 1862, Rev. Bennett Smedes, of Raleigh, N. C., was received at this office and committed to the Old Capitol Prison, having been transferred to your custody by Captain Dahlgren, commanding the U. S. navy-yard, with the information that he was arrested by the Potomac flotilla in an attempt to cross the Potomac River into Virginia. On being examined at this office he made the following statement, to wit:
That he is twenty-four years of age; that he was born in Schenectady, N. Y., and that when three years of age he accompanied his parents to Raleigh, N. C., where they now reside; that his father is a clergy man in that place; that he (Smedes) as the age of sixteen went to Saint James College, near Hagerstown, Md., where, excepting vacations spent withi his parents, he remained four years; that he the for three years attended a theological seminary in the city of New York, on leaving which in June, 1860, he commenced to officiate with the Rev. Dr. Cleveland Coxe, an Episcopal clergyman at Baltimore, with whom he remained until December 13, 1861; that for some time he has been desirous of joining his parents in Raleigh, N. C., and had with this view made application to the honorable Secretary of State for a passport which he did not succeed in procuring; that he then determined to make the attempt without such passport and take his chances of eluding the blockading flotill and military authorities of the United States; that he accordingly proceeded through Maryland to the river Potomac, and with three other persons attempted to cross it in a boat from Cedar Point, when he, with two of those persons, was arrested by a boat's crew from the cutter Howell Cobb; at 12. 30 a. m. January 11 was taken to the cutter, searched by Captain Frank, transferred to the Island Belle, thence to Colonel Graham's headquarters at Indian Head, thence successively t othe Wyandank, Harriet Lane and Yankee, on board of which latter he was taken to the navy-yard, whence he was sent by Captain Dahlgren to this office.
The prisoner refused upon the above examination to give any information relative to the person or persons by whose aid and abetment he was crossing the Potomac at the point and time named, or where he stayed while in Maryland preparing to leave for Virginia. No papers or correspondence were found on him when searched, excepting a letter of recommendation from Doctor Coxe. A letter from that gentleman relating to this case has been received at this office of which the following is a copy, viz:
WASHINGTON, D. C., January 13, 1862.
Brigadier General A. PORTER, U. S. Army.
DEAR SIR: The Rev. Smedes, a prisoner under your charge, was until about a month since assisting me as a deacon in Grace Church, Baltimore. He then left me as he said to see whether he could reach his parents in North Carolina. They had been recently afflicted by the death of his elder brother, and as he supposed were in need of his services and the comfort of his presence. His father is the Rev. Doctor Smedes, of Raleigh, bu this parents as well as himself are native New Yorkers; to the best of my belief his mother is a daughter of the late Rev. Doctor Lyell, rector of Christ Church, New York. Having seen him since his arrest in the presence of an officer he assured me that he went with nothing but his raiment a few sermons and a certificate of his good character (which I gave him), and that he designed nothing and did nothing more or less than was necessary to the sole object of seeing and consoling his parents. I believe his word absolutely, and can certify from long and intimate acquiantance with him that he is a young man of integrity and of great personal with. When I accepted his services as my assistant eigtheen months ago