peremptorily denies that he has voluntarily or designedly committed any act of hostility against the Government of the United States, and frankly states the circumstances which have caused his arrest. I know Mr. Dent well and am confident that his statements are entitled to the fullest credit. The fifty years of life which have been vouchsafed to him have been spent in inoffensive retirement on his estate in Maryland and I do not believe there is a citizen of the county in which he resides who would venture to impeach his integrity or veracity.
I also take the liberty of inclosing a letter* from Mr. Thomas A. Jones, another prisoner from the same county in Maryland, in which he makes a strong appeal to the mercy of the Government. My acquaintance with Mr. Jones is slight, but as he admits in part the truth of the supposed charges against him and is willing to give any pledge which may be required for his loyal conduct in future he hopes that his imprisonment of ten weeks and other severe injuries he has suffered have sufficiently atoned for past offenses.
In conclusion permit me to express the hope that the cases of Messrs. Dent and Jones will be found fit subjects for the exercise of the paternal clemency of the Government. A native myself of the county in which these gentlemen reside, and intimately acquainted with the sentiments and characteristics of the people, may I venture to suggest the opinion that a conciliatory policy will be most effective in repressing hostility in that portion of Maryland? It is in this spirit that I invoke your kindness irs. Dent and Jones.
Very respectfully, &c.,
WASHINGTON, D. C., December 7, 1861.
Mr. JOSIAH DENT.
MY DEAR SIR: In accordance with your request I will proceed to give a fair and honest statement of facts in reference to my case now pending before the Government authorities. I understand the charges against me to be that I voluntarily acted as an agent in conveying individuals, arms and letters across the Potomac River and thereby aided the enemies of the United States. In reply to this I have to state that although on several occasions persons were conveyed across the river it was done against my strong desire, but owing to the sentiment prevailing in the county at the time and my close proximity to the river I found it utterly impossible to resist the pressure with which I was surrounded without rendering myself obnoxious to the whole neighborhood. I can prove that on several occasions I was reproached and distrusted because I refused to allow my boat to be used in conveying persons across the river. I can prove that I several times concealed my boat and at length hauled her up and gave positive orders that she should not be placed in the water, but having occasion to leave home for a few days when I returned I found that during my absence persons had taken her and crossed the river notwithstanding my positive orders to the contrary.
With regard to letters, on one occasion only a budget of mail matter was sent to me from Virginia to be forwarded, but I firmly declined acting in any such capacity and destroyed the letters in presence of several citizens of Charles County. As to my conveying arms to the enemy I utterly repel the charge for I never crossed the river until I
*Not found, but see Jones to Dent, November 18.