FORT HAMILTON, N. Y., October 22, 1861.
Colonel E. D. TOWNSEND, Assistant Adjutant-General, &c.
SIR: Inclosed please find a letter from William H. Winder, a prisoner at Fort Lafayette, which I deem best to forward through you.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
FORT LAFAYETTE, October 18, 1861.
[CHARLES H. WINDER.]
DEAR CHARLES: I have this moment yours of the 15th instant, and hasten to urge upon you my strong wish not to compromise me by any application for my release, except to learn the cause of me detention. In order that you may clearly comprehend my position I will state the facts:
On Tuesday, the 9th, in the evening, I was arrested on a warrent issued by the mayor of Philadelphia, predicated upon a dispatch from the provost-marshal of Washington, for carrying on a treasonable correspondence with the Confederates. The officer who took my by his inquiries indicated they expected to find such among my papers with General Winder and myself. Two officers went with me to my chmber and ransacked trunks, closets, drawers, &c., and took away every paper found, though upon examination not one was found in any manner to refer to political matters. I was then locked up in a station house all night, andI learn that during the night having searched my person and taken all my keys they ransacked my office, and during the next day overhauled all my private papers of thirty years' standing to find out what I had been doing during the last few months.
On the next day (Wednesday) I was discharged by the mayor and at the request of the U. S. district attorney was turned over to him, the marshal taking charge of me until afternoon, when a hearing was to be had before the commissioner. At the hearing the U. S. attorney expressed his disappointment at finding no correspondence to implicate me, but having read my papers (copies of my political correspondence, contributions to newspapers and memoranda for reference, many of them never sent, both of letters and communications and many intended for future use to be incorporated in communications where in the context they would wear an aspect very different from the naked memoranda), he desired postponement to hunt up evidence in Philadelphia of my conversations, the charge upon which I was taken being unsupported by a scintilla of evidence. But in my writings I had freely spoken and had condemned without stint or limitation the abolition wing of the Republican party. This strung the district attorney, who not daring to put my writings in evidence but desirous of punishing me for them wanted time to hunt up charges, and two days were allowed him for that purpose.
When the hearing came on he was still unable to bring any charge, and in meantime had contrived to get a dispatch from Genernd me here. I was then discharged by the commissioner and instantly sent here. The marshal showed me a dispatch received on the 11th from Governor Seward: "Send W. H. Winder to Fort Lafayette. " This was not used, they hunting up cause of accusation. I wrote Governor Seward a letter, and this dispatch would seem to have been written in reply or on receipt of my letter, which was written and sent before I was arrested or hand dreamed of such a thing.