War of the Rebellion: Serial 118 Page 0350 PRISONERS OF WAR AND STATE, ETC.

Search Civil War Official Records

requires that officers who arrest men for political offenses should be able to present specific charges on which the accused can be brought to trial, and they should be also know what disposition is to be made of the person arrested in the meantime. In the time present case you are authorized to send the prisoners arrested by you to Camp Chase if the necessary charges can be sent with him.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

W. HOFFMAN,

Colonel Third Infantry, Commissary-General of Prisoners.

OFFICE COMMISSARY-GENERAL OF PRISONERS,

Washington, D. C., March 12, [1863].

Brigadier General L. THOMAS, Adjutant-General, Washington, D. C.

GENERAL: Pursuant to instructions in the accompanying letter* I have the honor to report that with a view to effecting the release of the officers held as hostages at Richmond for the two men Dusky and Varner, now in the penitentiary at Albany, I called on the provost-marshal at Whelling and the officer in charge of the penitentiary for such information in relation to the charges against these men, their trial, &c., as they could give.

From the report of the trial and from their own statements it appeared that they were not officers and had but little claim to be considered anything else than as mail robbers and I referred the papers to Colonel Ludlow, agent for the exchange of prisoners, on the 13th ultimo with a letter from which the following is an extract:

I have the honor to inclose herewith all the information I have been able to obtain in relation to the two prisoners in the penitentiary at Albany. From their own statement it is plain that they belonged to no proper military organization and that neither of them was an officer.

It was not fill recently that the rebel authorities would recognize guerrillas, bushwhackers and other irregular bands as fit subjects for exchange, and within a few weeks past they have rejected some of this class. They cannot now, therefore, go back to 1861 and claim to exempt a band of marauders who break into a post-office and steal the mail from proper punishment on the ground that they belonged to their army and were acting under the authority of their Government.

You will fully understand how to bring the matter before Mr. Ould so as to insure the release of our officers who are held in their penitentiary as hostages for these robbers and I need only put the papers in your hands.

After an interview with Mr. Ould Colonel Ludlow suggested that notwithstanding the clear right to detain these men in the penitentiary it would be the best policy to consent to their release if it were practicable and I submitted the matter by direction of the Secretary of War to Major-General Hitchcock, commissioner for exchange of prisoners, who decided that an exchange could not be consented to. This decision I communicated to Colonel Ludlow on the 6th instant, the following being an extract of my letter to him:

It is also decided not to release the two prisoners in the penitentiary at Albany. The papers already forwarded to you cover this case and justify their detention. If the rebel authorities persist in holding our officers as hostages for these two men such measures will be taken as may be necessary to meet such a state of things.

Colonel Ludlow will have an interview with Mr. Ould on the 16th instant, the result of which in this matter will be reported without delay.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

W. HOFFMAN,

Colonel Third Infantry, Commissary-General of Prisoners.

---------------

* Not found.

---------------