War of the Rebellion: Serial 119 Page 0318 PRISONERS OF WAR AND STATE, ETC.

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SALT SULPHUR SPRINGS, VA., September 24, 1863.


SIR: In the Richmond Sentinel of the 16th instant was published a letter from the Honorable Robert Ould, Confederate agent for the exchange of prisoners, to Lieutenant Colonel William H. Ludlow, the U. S. agent of exchange, dated the 23rd of June, 1863, which contains a mistake as to the facts of Doctor Rucker's case, which I ask permission as one of his counsel to correct.

In that letter Mr. Ould says:

He (Doctor Rucker) was not under the protection of a soldier when he committed the felonies charged against him. The State is now prosecuting him for those crimes, and his trial has been delayed for two terms of the court, at his own instance, as I am informed.

The offenses here referred to by Mr. Ould must be the indictment against the defendant for the murder of Michael Joyce in Alleghany on the 23rd of July, 1861, and an indictment for the larceny of a horse of Joseph A. Persinger, on the 27th of January, 1862.

The remaining eight indictments against the defendant all have reference to the charge of treason, which they embrace, and relate to events which occurred in Alleghany during his connection with the Northern Army, on the 17th, 18th, and 19th of May, 1862.

Mr. Ould is mistaken in supposing that either this indictment for murder or that for larceny was ever continued at the prisoner's instance. Of the charge of murder, the defendant was duly acquitted by the county court of Alleghany on the 19th of August, 1861. Notwithstanding this acquittal he was indicted for the same offense before a special term of the circuit court of Alleghany in November, 1862.

At that time a plea of "former acquittal" was tendered by the counsel for the prisoner, objected to by the Commonwealth, and the motion to exclude the plea continued until the meeting of the circuit court of Botetourt (to which the venue was then changed) in December, 1862.

The motion to exclude was then argued, upon the Commonwealth that an acquittal for unlawful stabbing with intent to kill did not necessarily import an acquittal of willful murder, but the objection was overruled by the court and the plea sustained.

The counsel for the accused then announced their readiness to try the plea, but on the motion of the attorney-general, who asked for time to prepare a replication alleging fraud in the procuring of the acquittal before the county court of Alleghany, the case was continued.

At the next term of the circuit court of Botetourt, in April, 1863, at the instance of the counsel for the Commonwealth, and by a previous understanding to that effect between the counsel on both sides, all the cases against the defendant were continued.

At the next and last term of the court (on the 1st instant) the defendant, who had been previously transferred to Danville at the instance of the Commonwealth and on account of the hostile movements then pending in the adjoining counties, was not required to be removed to Fincastle, so that his cases of course by operation of law stood continued until the next spring term.

The indictment for larceny we were ready to try at its first calling in Fincastle, and have been ready to try ever since.

We have never regarded it as anything but a frivolous prosecution against the prisoner for stealing a horse, which he fairly purchased from his debtor, at his instance, and for which he gave him credit on