RICHMOND, Sseptember 30, 1861.
Honorable RVERDY JOHNSON, Washington, D. C.
MY DEAR JOHNSON: Colonel Phillips has delivered to me your letter of the 26th instant, and I am much gratified to learn that separated as we are tto calo in our principles and convictions upon the subject of this contest now raging in the country you still remember with the same pleasue that I do our past intercourse. I beg you will present my best and kindest retards to Mrs. Johnson, who seemed with a woncts to feel the approach of the calamitous war now devastating our land. I relation to the fee I can do nothing. If that is lost it will be but one of the numerous sacrifices that I have cheerfully made for what I believee to be man's highest duty to his country.
I much regret that your letters did not reach me a week or two later. I had already with the President's consent determined on the release of Mr. Harry Magraw and Mr. Arnold Harris,* after a full examination and report on their case by a commissioner specially appointed for that purpose. The object of the improsinment in vindicating the rights of this Governmeent as a belligerent had been attained, and it would have been equally useless and cruel to have continued it any longer. I beg you threfore distinctly to understand that the loberation of Mr. Magraw is made without the slightest reference to your kind proposal to intercede for the liberation of Mr. Faulkner. He would have been liberated if your letter had not reached me. He would be liberated now if I had the fullest assurance that Faulkner would be detained in confinement till the close of the war. Forgive me for being so persistant on this point.
You write without the clogs of official position. I am in a different position, and a compelled to have it distinctly understood that I am no party to any exchange of prisoners. I would never consent to any other than the usual, opn, indiscriminate exchange know to the laws of war. I could be nonparty to any favoritism in selecting particular persons for the benefits of this humane provisio of the laws of war and excluding others. I repeat then that without wishing to do the least injury to pooor Faulkneer, but on the contrary anxious to do him service in any proper way I hold you totally absolved from all promise of exertion in his favor, and that his release fdrom prison if he is released must rest on the grround of his bing unjustly detained. At least that is the only footing on which I can consent to regard it.
Renewing my kio your whole family, I remain, truly, yours,
J. P. BENJAMIN.
P. S. -If you are in correspondence with our friends Barron don't fail to mention me to them with the most friendly regard.
FORT LAFAYETTE, October 13, 1861.
Colonel MARTIN BURKE.
SIR: The sad and distressing intelligemnce which I receive of the condition of my family in Virginia, my inability whilst confined here as a prisoner to offer to them any consolation in their afflictions or even to make any provision for their necessities, my solicitude for my children
*For case of Arnold Harris see p. 1515 et seq.