Miscellaneous Confederate Correspondence Relating to Political Arrests During the First Year of the War.
[For the cases of Honorable Thomas A. R. Nelson, Honorable William G. Brownlow, and other Confederate political arrests, see "Confederate Policy of Repression in East Tennessee," Volume I, this Series, pp. 823-931.]
NORFOLK, VA., June 29, 1861.
Major General R. E. LEE, Commanding, &c., Richmond.
SIR: The myor has committed to jail aman named Bryan who wrote a letter and endeavoredto send it off by a woman who had permission to leavefor the North by the last flag of truce, which letter was giving information to the enemy and expressing hostility to the Government of the Confederate States. The mayor informs me that he considers the evidence that he did write and send the aforesaid letter as conclusive, and he holds him for trial by a military tribunal. I beg to be instructed as to the tribunal before which I shall bring him, and what laws it is to be governed by. I expect to have another and similar case to-day.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
RICHMOND, July 4, 1861.
General R. E. LEE.
SIR: In respect to such cases as are referred to in the letter of General Huger of the 29th ultimo it is difficult to define a rule to cover every case. The person committing the offense accoridng to his relationsto the State will determine the disposition to be made of him. If he be a soldier and is guilty of holdign correspondence with or giving intelligence to the enemy he should be tried by court-martial under the fifty-seventh Article of War. If he be not a soldier but a citizen of Virginia or a citizen of one of the Confederate States and is guilty of such offense or of like class he should be handed over to the civil authorities, to be prosecuted under the laws of the State or the ordinances of the convention, or the laws of the Confederate States. However, the military authorities will not be trubled to decide in such cases, being relieved by the surrender of the party to the civil magistrate.
If the party were an alien-that is not a citizen of Virginia or of one of the Confederate States-he my be tried by the civil courts or by court-martial, according to his offense. By court-martial if a spy under article 99, section 2, of the Rules and Articles of war; by the civil courts if guilty of any offense underlaw of Virginia or ordinance of the convention, or law of the Confederate States. A man though an alien if resident in the State may be guilty of treason, for he owes allegiance to the State which gives him protection, though not a natural allegiance.
86 R R-SERIES II, VOL II