War of the Rebellion: Serial 118 Page 0664 PRISONERS OF WAR AND STATE, ETC.

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upon condition that he take the oath of allegiance to the Government of the United States and that the Honorable James Guthrie pledge himself to the officer commanding at louisville that Colonel Churchill shall be of good behavior and do no act of hostility to the United States and communicate no information nor give any aid or comfort to the enemy.

Please acknowledge receipt.

By order of the Secretary of War:


Assistant Adjutant-General.

WAR DEPARTMENT, Washington, May 20, 1863.

CHARLES A. MAY, Esq., Cashier Park Bank, New York.

SIR: Your telegram received. W. T, Smithson being arrested* and in prison on charges of grave magnitude, subjecting his property to confiscation if they prove true, it is the desire of this Department and you are authorized and directed to retain any funds or property in your bank standing in his name until further order by this Department. It is my desire to save the property for his creditors and the Government and prevent its application or transfer to purposes inimical to the Government. Please notify me if any checks or drafts in his name should be presented.


Secretary of War.


Washington, May 20, 1863.

Major-General BURNSIDE, Cincinnati.

GENERAL: I have just come from an interview with the President and Secretary of War during which the Vallandingham case was alluded to. No objections were made to your action in this matter but there was evidently some embarrassment in regard to the disposition of the prisoner. Outside friends have expressed fears that this case might do more harm than good. Not having real the trial I do not know how far the testimony justifies the finding and sentence. I, however, have always been of the opinion that in the loyal States like Ohio it is best to interfere with the ordinary civil tribunals as little as possible. Treasonable acts in those States unless of immediate and pressing danger should be left for trial by the courts as provided in the act of Congress. Districts of country where military operations are carried on and those which are actually in arms against the Government must necessarily be in a great measure subject to military control, and in the absence of proper civil courts offenses must be tried by military commissions. I am not objecting to what has been done in the Vallandigham case for I have no official information in regard to it further than that he was arrested and held for trial. I write simply to put you on your guard against inciting opposition to the Government by unnecessary arrests and military trials.

Again the Secretary of Was is of opinion that appointment of military commanders in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio should be avoided


*Smithson appears to have been twice in arrest. For first arrest see Vol. II, this Series, p. 1354-1357.