War of the Rebellion: Serial 115 Page 0470 PRISONERS OF WAR, ETC.

Search Civil War Official Records

that my release from imprisonment can be procured at any moment by taking and subscribing an explicit oath of allegiance to the united States. Before I reply to this proposition I am justified in recurring to a few facts connected with my arrest and in asking some information which may serve for my future guidance.

Near five weeks ago I was arrested by an order from the Secretary of War in the city of Washington to which place I had gone to close the affairs of my mission and where I was resting as I supposed under the protection of a safe conduct and pass inclosed to me in a letter or dispatch from you. On the fourth day after my arrest (15th of August) in reply to an inquiry addressed to the Secretary of War as to the ground of my arres I was officially informed that I had been arrested and was then held as a hostage for the safe return of Henry S. Magraw, of Pennsylvania, and that I should not be released until Mr. Magraw's return. On Saturday morning, 17th of the same month, the National Intelligencer, a journal well know for its discretion and acuracy of information and which is believed to occupy confidential relations with the Administration, announced substantially the ssame motive as the cause of my arrest. The records of that portion of the Eighth Infantry under the command of Captain Willard, in whose charge I was placed for the first monthof my imprisonment and which was used as a military ploce under the immediate control of the Secretary of War, show that such alone was the cause assigned fro my arrest and that my detention was to continue until Mr. Magraw's return. After my arrest I was assigned quarters in the city of Washington separate both from prisoners of war and political prisoners, There was at least a seeming fitness ent, for as I had not been captured whilst engaged in any military enterprise against the authority of the United Stats and as I had been areested without a charge or accusation of any kind against my fidelity and was held in the anomalous condition of a hostage, of which so far as I am informed I was the only example North or South, it was not proper that I should be confounded with tthose against whom the Government had or supposed it had grave charges of complaint.

On Monday last I was by an order from the Secretary of War removed to this place. A small casemate of this somber and isolatd fortification accommodates eight persons including myself. Through therr small apertures a dim and imperfect light is admitted-not sufficient to enable the occupants to read or write unless when the door is open, which can only be when allowed by the state of the weather and the regulations of the fort. From the limited character of the accommodations the opprtunities for lighting can only be enjoyed by each prisoner in turn. In another casemate near me are twenty-four prisoners in chains. I pretend not to know for what crime these men are incarcerated and ironed, but I must by allowed to say that I think the Government is acting with extraordinary hardshop toward me, when without its ability to allege any matter of offense of any kind against me it nevertheless places me in the same prrison and under many of the same regulations with those whom it feels justified in treating as the worst and most dangerous of malefactors.

I have myself written to no person in Virginia or in any other place informing them of the ground of my arrest as avowed by the Secretary of War, and consequently I have not directly or indirectly solicitted the interposition of any person to effectuate the release of Mr. Magraw that I might thereby acquire my own freedom. I could not consist-