These acts are at military law misbehavior before the enemy, punishable with death be sentence of a court-martil, but the War Department recommended the more lenient course of discharging Major Lynde from the military service. The Department on the official statements was satisfied as to the facts and the judgment to be formed of them. An investigation by a court of inquiry may now be ordered if the President thinks further consideration of the case necessary. Major Lynde and all parties interested may have leave to be present and offer testimony.
It is not necessary to restore Major Lynde to his rank and commission in order to make this investigation. It was decided in England (the twelve judges when consulted by the Crown having no doubt) that an officer after being dismissed the army by the King for misconduct may still be put before a court-martial for the offense and tried for his life. Attorney-General Black thought it the law here but Attorney-General Cushing doubted. There can be no doubt, however, to inquire by court of inquiry.
If by means of a court of inquiry it shall be discovered that the dismissal of Major Lynde was unjust doubtless he may be restored by a new appointment from the President with the advice and consent of the Senate when a vacancy shall happen. His place has been filled by promotion of the next officer.
But I cannot say that I discover in the matter presented in his petition reason to think that the decision heretofore made was inconsiderate and erroneous, or is it likely to be reversed by any further examination into the facts.
J. F. LEE,
Washington, January 14, 1862.
I concur with the Judge-Advocate that Major Lynde's case is properly setteld and that neither justice nor the public interest requires it to be reopened. I cannot, however, say that there is any important objection to a court of inquiry if the President has doubt in the case. But certainly no order for the restoration of the dismissed officer ought to be made in a advance of an examination by a court.
I approve the decision of the Judge-Advocate and the Adjutant-General as above.
Secretary of War.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Washington, January 11, 1862.
Major General JOHN E. WOOL, Fortress Monroe, Va.
GENERAL: The accompanying letters* are mostly from privateersmen imprisoned in New York. They have all been read here and are believed to contain nothing objectionable. As they show that such prisoners are humanely treated they might tend to induce similar treatment of our own prisoners. I will consequently thank you to cause them to be forwarded.
I am, your obedient servant,
WILLIAM H. SEWARD.