William I. Sykes, acting provost-marshal at Columbus, testifies that said Asa Hodges being about to leave Columbus, Miss., did voluntarily take the oath of allegiance to the Confederate States in due form, there being a general order in such cases requiring said oath; and that said Hodges did then and there receive a pass in due form from the provost-marshal. This was on the 19th of June, 1862.
This testimony fully explains who Asa Hodges is gives his antecedents as a true, liberal and loyal citizen, and as a warm and devoted friend of Southern independence. Actions speak louder than words, and if more of our ardent, talking, ultra Southern States' rights men had acted half as nobly and given as freely to the cause as Asa Hodges we could before this have achieved our independence. It is clear that the accused came here on business as he lawfully might do; that he visited one of the Government works in company with a watchman for a kind and generous purpose; that he attended to his business complied with the requisitions of the military authority in taking the oath of allegiance, received his passport and left for his brother's where his family was.
But then that argument and discussion with Mr. A. S. Humphreys! We will not stop to analyze it. It amounts to nothing. But we will call attention to the letter of Mr. Humphreys on file. He is satisfied of the innocence of the accused. See also the statement of Colonel Thomas C. Billeps and Isaac Williams as to their understanding of what Colonel Hodges said in that portion of the argument with Mr. Humphreys that they heard, and in which they participated. They heard nothing to cause them to suspect the loyalty of the party - they, good and true men, and more cool and dispassionate than the excitable and excited Mr. Humphreys. No one who knows Mr. Hodges - no citizen of Memphis or Crittenden County, Ark. - none of the neighbors, ever suspected his loyalty. It is an entire stranger, who in a causal conversation on the streets argued with him certain "points," that made the discovery of his disloyalty.
That the accused is now a refugee with family from home and has had to abandon his business and leave his property at the mercy of the Federals cannot be reasonably questioned. The idea taken up by the witness, Mr. Humphreys, that Colonel Hodges might be "an enemy sent here by the Lincoln authorities to ascertain our works and strength, &c., to be reported to them," was, with all due respect to that gentleman, a very absurd suspicion. When and how did he become the enemy of the South and engage in the employment, and obtain the confidence and get into the secrets of the Lincoln authorities? And where is the proof of it? And did a spy ever act in such a way? Would a spy or an enemy have engaged in such discussions and proclaimed such sentiments on the public streets with open and avowed Southern men? The supposition is simply ridiculous. And how confiding Mr. Humphreys, the bank director, was to give him all the desired information about the specie on hand, the amount sent away, where to, &c! And out of the number of Government works here the accused actually visited one of them on business, as is proved, and with one of the officers, and to see an employes of our Government, a good and true man! A curious way, certainly, of ascertaining our strength, the character of our works, &c.
But Mr. Humphreys says the accused was "gloomy and despondent about our army at Tupelo. " Perhaps that was wrong in a man who had just had 600 bales of cotton burnt, had to abandon to the Federals his crops of wheat, &c., his plantations, his business and his home, and had to remove with his family into another State for safety and protection.