LIBBY PRISON CELL,
Richmond, Va., August 14, 1863.
General J. H. WINDER,
Provost-Marshal-General, Richmond, Va.:
SIR: I have the honor to ask your indulgence and pardon, sir, for trespassing upon your patience in giving me your attention for a moment to the reading of the following:
General, I learn, sir, that I am placed in close and solitary confinement to await my trial for murder and robbery, with which I have been charged. The facts, sir, in the case of the former are as follows:
In the month of January, 1862, the Second Regiment Virginia Volunteer Cavalry, U. S. Army, commanded by Colonel W. M. Bolles, was ordered to re-enforce General Garfield, then in Northeastern Kentucky, where said regiment arrived on the 7th of January.
On reaching General Garfield's forces said regiment was ordered to the front. Some two miles and a half above Paintsville Colonel Bolles discovered the enemy and ordered the writer to pursue and charge upon him, which was done, putting the enemy to flight. During the chase one of the enemy was discovered attempting to make his escape on foot, was halted several times and refused to do so, was fired upon and killed, having a musket in his hand at the time. Some time afterward it was reported that he was shot after having surrendered. I immediately demanded an investigation, whereupon General Rosecrans, then in command of that department, ordered an investigation and in case any evidence could be had to sustain a charge to have charges preferred at once. An examination was had; the evidence was not sufficient to sustain a charge, but, to the contrary, evidence was had proving that the man had not surrendered and that he was killed with musket in hand attempting to make his escape, and would not stop after being commanded to halt several times, whereupon the case was dismissed and the writer exonerated from all blame in the case.
Sir, so far as the latter charge is concerned, I am totally in the dark, unless the taking of stock, i. e., horses and cattle, by orders from the commanding officers is so construed. If so, I am guilty of robbery; if not, I am innocent of the charge, for I do assure you, general, that I have never done anything of the kind myself or allowed the men under my immediate command to do anything of the kind. Having operated against the Eighth Regiment Virginia Volunteer Cavalry, C. S. Army, commanded by Colonel James M. Corns, my almost entire time in the service, I respectfully refer to him and to Captains Henry C. Everett and C. Irvine Lewis, of said regiment, for my character as an officer and gentleman; also to Captain William A. Lackey, of the Fourteenth Virginia Cavalry, C. S. Army, whom, together with some 116 of his men, I captured near Lewisburg last November; also Dr. S. C. Gleaves, of Wytheville, Va.
General, the object in giving you these facts is, sir, to respectfully ask your clemency, sir, to the extent that I may be permitted to be taken from my cell and put with my fellow-officers until the time of my trial. The raid on Wytheville was headed by Colonel J. T. Toland, acting brigadier-general, who was killed there, and not by me.
I am, general, your obedient servant,
W. H. POWELL,
Colonel Second Virginia Volunteer Cavalry, U. S. Army.