War of the Rebellion: Serial 116 Page 0160 PRISONERS OF WAR AND STATE, ETC.

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has some doubt attached to it it would be perhaps advisable that Congress should specially authorize it and allow payments to be made accordingly.




December 13, 1861.

Honorable SIMON CAMERON, Secretary of War.

SIR: A short time ago I wrote to you concerning my husband who is a prisoner of war and now held as hostage for one of the crew of the privateer Savannah. I am sorry to trouble you. I do not know whether you received my note or not but, sir, I appeal to your sympathy in this case.

Here is my husband and a number of other brave men now confined in a damp jail. As my husband writes to me he is of the firm opinion that if someting is not done soon that some of these gentlemen will not be able to bear up under their weight of trouble, not being able to enjoy even a walk when the days are so clear and lovely. And those bravehearted men went forth with strong minds to fight for their country and then taken across the Potomac without means to enable them to retreat in safety, what else could they do-meet with a watery grave as did Adjutant Harvey and Captain Otter and many others whose families are now in the greatest sorrow? Not even can they see the dead bodies of their companions and have them buried by the side of some near and dear relative, or perhaps their own children. Then what else was to be done but to be taken prisoner?

And now would it not be best to release those men called pirates and give them a chance to be good citizens once again? Probably they never would commit another crime. They have not been forgiven ninety and nine times; no, not even once have they been forigiven, which is dreadful to think of. Their families certainly are in deep sorrow at the dreadful suspense which they are kept in; days and nights of intense anxiety must prevail among all of us unhappy wives and mothers and children of those unfortunate hostages and so-called pirates. At New York I have three children, one a girl aged nearly 14 years, a son 12 and one 4 years. The one goes to school, where of course ridicule is ever ready to wound the hearts of the sensitive, and then my child comes home and cries whenever he thinks of his kind and indulgent father whom he has not seen for five months.

He left his home July 15 as Captain Francis J. Keffer, Company H, First California Regiment, the late Colonel E. D. Baker's brigade, and was taken prisoner at Ball's Bluff battle, October 21. He does not complain for he knows he is not the only one who is suffering, but he wishes me to appeal to you and President Lincoln in their behalf. They are without a change of clothing or money to get any with. For the sakes of those thirteen men at New York I sent my husband $10; he received it and I expect bought clothing with it. Now I have sent him $10 more with a hope that he will get it, and if I could spare it I would send $100 to him, for while he had [money] no one with him would suffer, for he would share his last dollar with them I assure you. Will you please give an answer to this if it is only a few words that I may