War of the Rebellion: Serial 115 Page 0601 SUSPECTED AND DISLOYAL PERSONS.

Search Civil War Official Records

in a long communication expressing sympathy with the conspirators and indicating a higher allegiance to local authority than to the of the Government whose uniform he wore and whose pay and honor he had through his life received. On reaching the United States he forwarded this communication to the Department, and at the same time his commander notified me that he refused to take and subscribe to the oath. It was under these circumstances that he was sent to Fort Lafayette.

In a conversation with yourself in regard to this man I expressed my sympathy for his family and relatives a desire that his wife and children might be permitted to see him. You concurred in these views, and further stated that he ought not to be permitted to go at large without taking the oath prescribed. The communication of Robert Tansil is herewith returned.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

GIDEON WELLES.

FORT WARREN, Boston, Mass., November 26, 1861.

Honorable W. H. SEWARD, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.

SIR: Since my arrest and confinement I have written to the President and Secretary of the Navy asking to be released or brought to a trial on the charges (if any) that may have been preferred against me. Not having received an answer from these gentlemen I have thought that I might accomplish my release by addressing the Secretary of State on the subject.

I presume you are aware that I was arrested and confined on resigning my commission as a captain in the U. S. Marine Corps. It is but fair that I should frankly admit that I am unalterably opposed to your political principles and war poicy, and that I would prefer to suffer a thousand deaths rather than raise my hand against the sovereignty or independence of any State of our once happy country. With due deference to your opinion I cannot but believe that the practice of incarcerating those who differ with you in opinion as to the necessity or policy of the present unfortunate war is really calculated to and will do you and the cause you desire to advance more harm than good. By this policy you not only make political enemies but personal ones also. You are aware, sir, that injuries produce ill will and justice friendship? If you had sent all the gentlemen to the South whom you have caused to be imprisoned they would not I am sure have the slighest influence in the final determination of the unhappy contest now raging between the two sections of the country. But be that as it may no good can come from wrong, and it is a mistaken policy for those who are at the head of public affairs to act so as to forfeit the respect and incur the resentment of those under them, however humble they may be. I repeat, sir, that those things that are wrong are unsafe and no plea of necessity can justify them. The constant practice of justice is not only the best policy, but our surest shield, most lasting and firmest support. By disregarding these sacred principles the rulers of to-day are often the victims of to-morrow, more especially in revolutions where majorities often suddenly become minorities.

The very great desire I have to see my wife and children who will soon be in a destitute and suffering condition and from whom I have been absent in the public service for over twenty-eight months has