Should not Thomas have been indicted for piracy also? In the divided condition of public sentiment a conviction for treason no matter how clearly the crime may be proved is extremely difficult. The same prejudice might not be encountered in a prosecution for piracy, of which if the facts have been correctly reported to me the prisoner is undboutedly guilty.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JUDGE-ADVOCATE-GENERAL'S OFFICE, March 18, 1863.
SECRETARY OF WAR:
Charles Wilson and three others committed as witnesses against one Colonel Thomas Zarvona, charged with having committed piracy, have been in confinement at Fort McHenry since July, 1861. There were originally six of them, but one was released by General Dix and one escape. The remaining four have been imprisoned for about twenty months without any pay or allowance except their daily rations. One of them, Charles Wilson, states that he has a wife and children in New York without support from any one, suffering all the miseries of poverty, so much so that one of his children perished the last winter for want of medical aid. In the meanwhile Thomas Zarvona, though long since indicted and still confined, has not been tried. The cause of this delay is stated to be the continued ill health of Chief Justice Taney, and in consequence there seems to be no prospect of an early trial of the case.
The imprisonment of a witness for so long a period of time and under such circumstances is without a precedent and should not be long permitted. I therefore recommend, as has been done by Brigadier-General Morris, that these four persons be at once discharged on their personal r ecognizance to appear and testify against Thomas Zarvona when summoned on behalf of the United States to do so. I would further urge as an act of simple justice that these men be paid a reasonable compensation for the time which they have lost by the confinement to which they have been subjected. No allowance can be made by the court, as has been determined, because they have never been formally summoned, and could not be, because held in military custody, and like Thomas Zarvona himself beyond the reach of civil process. The position in which they have been placed and held they have been forced to occupy by action of the War Department and to it they must look for a fair remuneration for the time they have lost. The U. S. attorney at Baltimore should be instructed to have a subpoena issued for these witnesses and served before their discharge which will render formal and obligatory the recognizance which it is proposed they shall then execute.
FORT LAFAYETTE, New York Harbor, March 19, 1863.
Brigadier General L. THOMAS,
Adjutant-General, U. S. Army, Washington City.
SIR: I have to report that Colonel Zarvona (the French lady), now in close confinement at this post, wishes to give the following parole,