DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Washington, December 28, 1861.
H. M. HOXIE, Esq., Des Moines, Iowa.
SIR: Arrest and convey to Fort Lafayette, N. Y., William M. Hill as soon as he is discharged from civil custody under the present indictment against himin the U. S. district court in Iowa.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
F. W. SEWARD,
FORT LAFAYETTE, N. Y., January 19, 1862.
Honorable WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Department of State, Washington.
DEAR SIR: Since confined here I have been informed that you would learn from the accused* statements and facts which led to the arrest and confinement of persons in this fort. This was truly gratifying news to me, believing that when heard I will be released. I herewith hastily condense my statement.
Last spring my wife left Magnolia, Iowa (my residence), to visit her friends in Virginia. Shortly after her arrival the civil was broke out in Western Virginia and the mails were stopped. She could not return home, neither could I receive any communication relative to her return or safety. I was informed through the medium of the press that no citizen of the North could pass Wise's or Floyd's lines, all being held as spies and their enemies. To aid me in passing these armies-to pave my way through them-to reach my family and return with them home I composed a sympathizing letter directed to a little county paper published in the county where my family had gone to vist, designed to allay any prejudices against me and to accomplish the object already stated.
I did pass the armies, met my family and in forty days from the time I left I was at my home in Iowa.
This letter was returned from the Department in my absence and was published in several papers in the State, commented upon and exaggerated. Some charged that I had left my judicial office, all my propertly and a part of my family to join the rebellion. Thus I was misrepresented and also my motives by designing men who envied me the office of clerk of the district and who represented that I could not nor did not intend to return to Iowa.
Under these circumstances I was not surprised that I was indicated, having no opportunity to explain the designs and motives in writin a sympathetic letter to my wife's friends in Virginia. The U. S. district court appointed a special term to hear my case. I gave bail for my appearance and at the time appointed I appeared in court. The U. S. attorney after being apprised of the circumstances and the evidence against me entered a nolle prosequi in my case and Iwas discharged. (It was at the sacrifice of much of my means that I procured counsel (of attorney) and traveling witness 400 miles to defend the civil action against me.)
Shortly after my discharge I was arrested by your honor's order and confined in this fort. I respectfully state further and hope by them and the proof thereof [you] will honorably discharge me from confinement. Not a citizen of Western Iowa who is acquainted with me and the circumstances under which the imprudent letter was written but will petition for my release. I can obtain the proof and petitions of thou-
*See Seward to Keyes, p. 151.