I am therefore compelled respectfully to decline your proposal to hold Virginians in prison until the enemy shall release other Virginians that he holds in prison. At the same time I will cheerfully aid to the amount of my power in bringing to due punishment all traitors and other criminals, and will most heartily co-operate in any legitimate effort to relieve our fellow-citizens imprisoned in this or other States whose wrongs and sufferings I deplore but am powerless to remedy.
I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. P. BENJAMIN,
Acting Secretary of War.
CHARLESTOWN, VA., October 29, 1861.
Honorable Mr. BENJAMIN, Secretary of War.
DEAR SIR: Having had Mr. Herr, a resident of Harper's Ferry, arrested because of his alleged intercourse with the enemy, which intercourse he admits but pleads as not treasonable, it having been in every instance advised by his counsel, Mr. A. Hunter, how far Mr. Herr's intercourse with the enemy (which has consisted in his receiving pay for flour and wheat used by them from his mill) [sic.] I have preferred under the circumstances to refer to you for decision, as I want some guide in treating similar cases which are freuqent upon the border. I considered mr. Herr's case aggravated by the fact of Federal troops taking possession of Harper's Ferry, as the Federal newspaper report says, for the purpose of removing wheat from his mill which I am led to believe Mr. Herr expects pay for from the Federal Government. My men found Federal gurads around his mill which still contianed wheat, upon which they fired it and burned it to ashes, arresting Mr. Herr as a party to their tansactions in volation of the Confederate law.
Upon offering Mr. Herr the option to take oath of allegiance or leave the State Mr. Herr declined taking the oath for reasons which he will state to you, but expressed a desire to remain a citizen of the Confederate States without giving such evidence of his loyalty. I do not feel at liberty to release him without such evidence and conseuqently send him on parole, accompanied by his frind, Mr. A. Hunter, to you for your decision. I beg of you to give me some guide in similar cases of which I have not a few. I am satisfied that Mr. Herr is a conscientious man and would not deliberately be traitorous to our cause, but think that such intercourse has already and would likely continue to result in evil to us.
Lieutenant-Colonel, C. S. Army.
RICHMOND, VA., November 1, 1861.
His Excellency JEFFERSON DAVIS,
President Confederate States of America.
SIR: You are no doubt acquainted with the circumstances of my capture and detention. The Secretary of War has informed me that there are no charges against me and am held simply as a prisoner of war. I have now been imprisoned in close confinement between three and four months and will not deny that I am anxious to be liberated. My fellow-prisoners for good reasons whci will be explained to you
88 R R-SERIES II, VOL II