May I myself informed the officer commanding of the approach of the troops. I was ready to march at 2 o'clock. I stayed behind in obedience to orders (not because I "was asleep or to drink a cup of coffee"), was captured two hours before the time allowed us to leave had expired and while protesting against the violation of the flag.
Now as regards the terms of my release. While prisoners we were exposed to constant insults; to my earnest appeals and those of friends, influential when worth and honor had influence in Washington, pleading in the name of humanity and justice for a parole or an audience no word of reply was deigned; we had good reason to fear removal far from Washington to prison quarters or the attempt to force us into the U. S. service, or even a harshed fate; we were assured the Federal forces were in possession of our homes and our families had been driven out; we could hear nothing from our friends; no effort had been made by them for the vidication of the sanctity of the flag of truce by our release, and we were secretly advised friends from Maryland to escape on any terms. We were distinctly told that no parole would be granted, that no circumstances would cause them to exchange and that there was but one condition on which we could be released, namely, that of taking on oath of allegiance.
The oath read "to bear true allegiance to the Constitution of the United States," &c. I believe that the truest allegiance would be torest it arch violator. But not to quibble at its constructions I felt that taken in violation of a flag of truce, denied virtually the right of habeas corpus which they elsewhere openly and shamelessly despised, in the hands of a military usurpation totally lost to honor and justice, offered this as positively the only condition of release it would be utterly powerless to bind us, whatever its pledge. In my judgment, in my conscience before my God I felt this. I thought, however, that its violation would do discredit to our ct would be virtrually a parole. But to prevent misconstruction of my motives I determined to return and recant it after placing my family in safety which I could only effect by taking it.
I took that oath and escaped. When assured of the safety of my family I attempted to return to Washington to recant. I was recognized and refused permission to go, and not only so but was detained for some hours under the evident suspicion of being a spy. I was advised by a personal friend in Lincoln's service not to trust myself within their lines. Many things convince me that it would be hazardous and I shall attempt no more.
I insert here the certificates.
MANASSAS, June 22, 1861.
I take great pleasure in stating that I believe Captain M. D. Ball to be as true and loyal a gentleman to the cause of Southern rights as any one, and that while under my command in Alexandria he was a diligent, active officer, and the whole duty of giving information of the advance of the enemy from the Long Bridge was intrusted to him.
M. D. CORSE,
Colonel, Commading Seventeenth Regiment Virginia Volunteers.
This is to certify that while I was in command at Alexandria the duty of guarding the Long Bridge and giving information of any advance of any advance of the enemy in that direction was instrusted entirely to Captain M. D. Ball; that he performed that duty to my entire satisfaction; that he was the first to inform me of their advance on the 24th of May; that he was aware that till 8 o'clock had been given to evacuate or surrender, and war ordered to keep in rear of the infantry and give information of the whereabouts of the enemy or their advance upon me.
GEO. H. TERRETT,
Colonel, Provisional Army.