Washington, October 22, 1863.
Honorable E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War;
In the case of Hardcastle, a British subject, accidentally shot by a sentry while in confinement at the Carroll prison, in this city, on 25th of May last, I have the honor to submit as follows, in response to your indorsement of reference of the 20th instant:
This case comes before the War Department from the Department of State, upon a communication from the British minister to Mr. Seward, of August 13, last. In this communication Lord Lyons, after setting forth the views of Her Majesty's Government with regard to the original imprisonment of Hardcastle, as well as to the manner of his death, concludes as follows:
The whole case leaves a very painful impression upon the minds of Her Majesty's Government. The liberty of a British subject was (they conceive) interfered with without any serious cause and in apparent breach of good faith. The representations of Her Majesty's legation in his behalf did not procure his release, and in the end his life was carelessly sacrificed by the accidental result of a rough and unmerciful system of prison discipline, excused on the ground of the unsuitableness and the overcrowded state of the U. S. military prisons.
From the various reports and papers furnished the War Department by Brigadier-General Martindale, military governor of the District of Columbus, who has evidently investigated the subject with care, the causes of the confinement of Hardcastle and the facts of his death are found to be as follows:
Hardcastle was placed in confinement in the Carroll (or Old Capitol) prison on 17th of April last. He had arrived at Port Conway, below Falmouth, with a flag of truce from the rebel army, having come from Richmond under a pass from General Winder, indorsed by General Lee. On his arrival within our lines he was forwarded in arrest by General patrick, provost-marshal-general of the Army of the Potomac, to the provost-marshal at Washington, with the papers found upon his person describing him as a British subject and with a communication from General Patrick, calling attention to an apparent want of genuineness in these papers, tending to discredit their bona fide character. It is well remarked by General Martindale that-
The effort to prevent intercommunication for improper proposes across the lines of our armies would be abortive if the reception of persons under a flag of truce should be held to preclude detention for the purpose of further examination.
It has accordingly been customary with this Government to require this detention and examination as a precaution, in the majority of cases absolutely necessary to be taken, against the designs of those classes of persons who, by the laws and customs of war, should properly be excluded from the privilege of penetrating within our territory. That the enforcement of this rule should sometimes subject neutrals to temporary inconvenience is perhaps inevitable, but it has been the purpose of this Government to require this detention in those cases only where the conduct, the business, or the credentials of the party are not found to furnish a sufficient guarantee that his object in seeking to enter our lines is such as may properly be had in view by a citizen of a neutral power. In the case of Hardcastle, the facts brought to light upon his examination (which was pending at the time of his death), and subsequently, were such, it is believed, as to fully justify his arrest and detention, as well as the suspicion in regard to his actual character and antecedents which appear to have arisen at the time of his arrest. It is shown that he had resided for eight years in the United States,