War of the Rebellion: Serial 121 Page 0468 PRISONERS OF WAR AND STATE, ETC.

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OFFICE SPECIAL COMMISSIONER,

Camp Chase, Columbus, Ohio, April 4, 1865.

General WILLIAM HOFFMAN:

SIR: Your letter of the 29th ultimo informing me that Lewis H. Baker, whose case was embraced in my report Numbers 1898, has not been discharged, is before me. It is obvious that the special design of your communication is to inform me that I am not to report upon the case of any military prisoner unles the same has been specially referred to me by the War Department; that I am not expected to take any personal interest in matters brought before me, and that my special duty is merely to reports facts without the conclusions of my judgment. The intimation that I have exhibited a personal interest is founded, I presume, from the tenor of your letter, upon some note or letter written to the brother of the said Lewis H. Baker. I have no recollection of having uttered any such writing, nor can I recall any knowledge of any correspondence with any manof that name. I specially request that you will furnish me with the writing, that I may identify it and know that it is the work of my men. The writing shall be returned to you. If this request is not consistent with rule or precedent will you be pleased to preserve it for my inspection, as it is my purpose to visit Washington during the present month. I am quite certain that I have no personal interest in Lewis H. Baker, or any member of his family, and am conscious of no motive why I should have entertained a favorable consideration of him or his case. If by personal interst is meant a wish for the release of one whom I esteem, after a full andimpartial examination, to be meritorious and cordially loyal, or sympathy with the anxieties and efforts of relatives who are known or accredited to be truly loyal, or advice to any applicant as to the kind and amount of showing or testimony which may be needed to establish the fact of loyaltyor innocence of charges preferred, I acknowledge that I possess it. If, however, by this phrase is meant partiality, prepossession, or prejudice, inconsistent with justice, self-respect, respect for the powers that be, or the staunchest loyalty, I repudiate the imputation and will afford you an opportunity at my contemplated visit of sustaining the expression or insinuation.

The position which I occupy, at any other than war times, would alike be undesirable and intolerable. But for the earnest solicitation of the Governor of this State, and the conviction that I could be more useful to the country in its calamities in this than in any other capacity, I would not have submitted to the sacrifices which I have made of comfort and profit in my profession. Notwithstanding the implication of your letter that cases have been examined without authority, I am not aware that any has been investigated without the request and reference of some branch of the War Department, excepting at the request of the Governor of West Virginia and the President of the United States; and here it is appropriate to state that, but for the expressed wishes and earnest encouragement and advice of President Lincoln, I would in November last have abandoned the place, notwithstanding the conviction that by doing so very many persecuted men, victims of rebel oppression, would have their cases unrepresented. It is matter of great gratification to me that I have been humbly instrumental, by reporting their condition, in securing the release of hundreds of truly loyal men, most of whom are now in Ohio in homes and occupations (obtained partly by my aid), and are vindicating and illustrating the justice and humanity of the Government by their loyal and law-abiding conduct. As to the instruction that I am not expected to give my judgment in the form of recommendation in any case, I