WAR DEPARTMENT, Washington, May 31, 1862.
Honorable JOHN HICKAMN, House of Representatives.
SIR: The Secretary of War directs me to acknowledge the receipt of your note* of yesterday with the two inclosures relative to procuring the release of Major Vogdes, now held a prisoner of war by the rebels, and to inform you in reply that arrangements have been made for a general exchange of prisoners which precludes the necessity for special exchange.
I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
P. H. WATSON,
Assistant Secretary of War.
N. B. - The inclosures* of your letter are herewith returned.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF,
New Orleans, May 31, 1862.
Honorable E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War.
SIR: Havig been fully convinced by strong proof collected since this city has been occupied by my command that Mr. Pierre Soule, ex-Member of Congress and former Minister to Spain, has been and still is engaged in plotting treason against the United States Government I ordered him to be arrested on the 28th day of the present month and to be held in safe confinement until such time as he could be safely transferred to Fort Warren, Mass., as a political prisoner. The arrest was made as direct and Mr. Soule was brought before me and is sent forward on board the transport McClellan. The charges against him and the evidence of his guilt elicited are as follows:
CHARGE 1. - That Pierre Soule is a member and the leader of a secret society known as the Southern Independence Association, of which each member is solemnly sworn to "allegiance to the Southern Confederacy and to oppose forever the reconstruction of the old Union at the peril of his life if necessary, whatever be the fate of the war and to whatever extremities and disasters treachery or incapacity may reduce the country," and and every member further pledges himself to assist to the utmost of his power in carrying out all laws of the Confederate Congress and all laws of the respective States composing the Southern Confederacy which have for their object resistance to the United States by armed force or otherwise, the retaliation of injuries, the confiscation of property and the detection and dispersion or punishment of spes and enemies in our midst. "
As information of the nature and objects of the Southern Independence Association I have the honor to inclose an extract* from its proceedings and deliberations on March 13, 1862, and a correspondence* between a committee of its members and Dr. J. L. Riddell, late postmaster of this city.
CHARGE 2. - That Pierre Soule was the author of the insolent letters to Commodore Farragut signed by the mayor, John T. Monroe, in the pamphlet herewith inclosed marked A, B, C and D, and is at present the principal supporter of the rebellion in this city.
Mr. Soule's influence and position, social and political, here render him in my judgment so dangerous, his treason so flagrant, the overt acts so plain, that I send him forward to the Government at Washington. Had he been actually in arms I should have tried him by military commission and executed the sentence, and will do so now if so directed by the Department.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
BENJ. F. BUTLER,
* Not found.