War of the Rebellion: Serial 121 Page 0644 PRISONERS OF WAR AND STATE, ETC.

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[JUNE 6, 1865.-For Pope to Grant and Grant's reply, in relation to the status of Confederate prisoners returning to Missouri, or any of the loyal States, see Series I, Vol. XLVIII, Part II, p. 793.]



The following report upon the petition of Richard T. Semmes, convicted by military commission of conspiring with others to destroy the city of Chicago and release the rebel prisoners of war there confined, is respectfully submitted:

Semmes was tried, jointly with Charles Walsh, Buckner S. Morris, Vincent Marmaduke, Charles T. Daniel, G. St. Leger Grenfel, and Benjamin M. Anderson, for conspiring with one Captain Hines, alias Doctor Hunter, of the Confederate Army, and others, to accomplish the above stated objects. of those convicted by the commission Semmes was one, and was sentenced to three years' confinement at hard labor at such place as the commanding general should direct. General Hooker approves the findings and sentence in the cases of all the accused, and designates the penitentiary at Columbus, Ohio, as the place of confinemtn of the petitioner Semmes.*

At the termination of the trial the entire court, with the exception of Colonel Charles D. Murray, united in subscribing to a recommendation that the sentence in the case of R. T. Semmes, the petitioner, be remitted. This recommendation is annexed to the recored.+ Semmes petitions for pardon and release in a sworn and attested statement in which he declares that he was wholly ignorant of all knowledge of the existence of any such conspiracy (referring to the conspiracy to burn Chicago and release the rebel prisoners) until the same was made publicly known by the arrest of other parties in the city of Chicago, on the morning of the 7th of November, 1864; that conscious of his own innocence, he remained in said city until his own arrest, on the 17th of November, 1864; that upon his trial no witnesses testified to the slightest knowledge on his part of any such scheme or that he had ever uttered one word, or been present when one word was uttered by any person at any time or place, relating to any such conspiracy. He further represents that upon the closing of the testimony for the Government, confident of his immediate acquittal and discharge, his case, by his ownd esire and the approval of his counsel, was submitted to the judgment of the commission without the introduction of testimony and without argument in his defense. The petitioner admits that he was a member of the Order of the Sons of Liberty, but supposed it to be a purely political and lawful organization. He states that he has now no doubt "but that there were persons connected with said order (and some of them in high positions therein) who did entertain treasonable designs against the Government and who designed, if possible, to make use of that order to accomplsih their purposes." But he avers his utter ignorance of all such designs and purposes, and declares that he would have been at all times wholly opposed to them. He refers to the case of Judge Buckner S. Morris, a very prominent member


*See April 21, p. 502.

+Published in Executive Document Numbers 50, House of Representatives, Thirty-ninth Congress, second session.