HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF VIRGINIA,
Fort Monroe, Va., January 5, 1863.
Major General H. W. HALLECK, General-in-Chief.
GENERAL: I have the honor to inclose a letter* from Lieutenant T. G. Baylor, of the Ordnance Department, protesting against the trial and sentence of one of his employees, a citizen, under an order of which I also inclose a copy,* appointing a provost judge for trial of certain cases arising within the limits of this command. The letter is addressed to my assistant adjutant-general and asks that it may be referred to the Judge-Advocate-General of the Army. I forward it to you for such action as you may think proper. When I took command of the troops at this post and its vicinity at the beginning of the month of June last I found Fort Wool filled with prisoners charged with a great variety of offenses and misdemeanors not of military character. I undertook to examine to examine these cases myself, but finding it impossible consistently with my other duties I appointed a provost judge on the 27th of the same month with a view to the speedy punishment of the guilty and the release of the innocent and he has until now discharged his duties unquestionably as far as I know, either in regard to his authority or the equity of his decisions. I have usually designated specially the cases he was to try and decide, and the highest penalty he has imposed in any instance is imprisonment at hard labor for ninety days. All cases of a highly criminal character have been brought before a military commission. I infer from the tenor of Mr. Baylor's letter that he does not deny my right to bring such cases before a military commission, his "protest" being aimed at the trial of his employe by a court "consisting of one individual alone. " It is proper to add that there is not a civil magistrate in this district or any existing authority to appoint one and that the entire department under my command was declared to be out of the Union by the Legislature of Virginia, and all except a limited territory around this fort has been acquired from the enemy by conquest. Under these circumstances I consider myself warranted by the laws of war to appoint special tribunals for the administration of justice. (See Halleck's International Law, chapter 32, sections 1 to 7.) I request an early decision on Mr. Baylor's "protest" that the party under sentence if he has been tried coram non judice be brought before a military commission.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOHN A. DIX,
HDQRS. U. S. FORCES, FORTS HENRY, HEIMAN AND DONELSON,
January 5, 1863.
Colonel WILLIAM HOFFMAN,
Commissary-General of Prisoners, Washington, D. C.
SIR: I am directed by the colonel commanding to say to you that he was authorized by General U. S. Grant to make exchanged.
I have the honor to be, colonel, your obedient servant,
CHAS. A. B. LANGDON,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.
* Not found.