BRISTOL, TENN., March 28, 1864.
Honorable JAMES A. SEDDON:
DEAR SIR: About twelve months ago William H. Turley, a citizen of Knox County, in this State, went to Richmond, Va., and got permission from the proper authorities to pass our lines and go North for the purpose of embarking for Europe, where he proposed buying a fast running steamer and engaged in blockade-running from Nassau to Charleston. While in New York he was recognized by a Union man from Knoxville, who gave General Burnside the information, upon which he arrested, taken to Cincinnati, and without trial or notice of charges, sent to Johnson's Island as a prisoner of war, where he has remained ever since, and I learn from exchanged prisoners that they are determined to hold him until the end of the war. He has never been in the army, but has been as efficient in the cause as if he had been. He is a gentleman of wealth and high social position, and a true and sound Southern man. There are prominent Union men, Federal sympathizers, within our lines who, if taken as hostages, could procure his release. I had a conversation with General Longstreet a day or two since on the subject, and he informs me that he is not authorized to make the arrest in such a case without authority from you to do so. I write to ask such authority to be given and the power exercised to make the arrest in such a case without authority from you to do so. I write to ask such authority to be given and the power exercised on behalf of a gentleman who has bee imprisoned ten long months already. Seth J. W. Luckey, William H. Maxwell, of Washington, or Charles J. McKinney and A. P. Caldwell, of Hawkins County, all of this State, or either of them, if arrested and held as hostages for Mr. Turley, would effect his release. You may have forgotten me, and will call to your mind the fact that we were in Congress together in 1845-46. Mr. Turley is a son-in-law of mine, hence my solicitude for him. If you wish to know anything else in regard to myself, I refer you to General Henry, Senator, and others of the Tennessee Delegation. You early attention to the subject-matter herein embraced will much oblige your friend.
Very truly and respectfully, yours,
WM. M. COCKE.
Would you advise the course recommended? Its expediency seems very questionable, as the enemy have in every way an unscrupulous cruelty, as well as superior facilities for securing the advantage in such a policy.
J. A. SEDDON,
APRIL 6, 1864.
Respectfully returned to the Honorable Secretary of War.
I would much prefer the arrest and detention of Yankee citizens rather than Union men in Tennessee. If the latter course is pursued the Federals will make five arrests for one. Besides, Mr. Turley went voluntarily into the enemy's territory. Is it entirely certain that the Federals did not have the right to arrest Mr. Turley, he being an alien enemy within their lines?
Agent of Exchange.