copy of General Miles' letter forwarding it and callinga ttention to a statement made therein*
I am, sir, very resepctfully, your obedient servant,
E. D. TOWNSEND,
WASHINGTON, D. C., October 26, 1865.
His Excellency ANDREW JOHNSON,
President of the United States:
SIR: On of the principal prerogatives of your high position is that of mercy and pardon. It becomes still more important in dubious cases, where it is not quite clear whether justice has been done or not. Such one, I regret very much to say, is my duty not only as counsel for the defendant, but as friend of humanity, to lay before Your Excellency to- day.
Captain Wirz, my client, has been tried, and, as I apprehend, condemned to die. in your hand it rests whether this sentence sahll be carfied out or not. It is true that if you are solely guided by the evidence which will be or has been laid before you, little or no hope is to be enetertained; but there is something else which cannot fail to command Your Excellency's regards, and that is the following:
1. That this commission, before which the prisoner has been tried, has in a many instances excluded testimony in favor of the prisoner, and, on the other hand, admitted testimony against the prisoner, both in violation of all rules of law and equity. That the whole country knows. Every lawyer in this city and elsewhere has regarded this and the treatment the counsle suffered at the hands of the president of the commission and the judge- advocate with indignation and as an insult to the profession. My former oleagues, Messrs. Hughes, Denver,and Peck, left for that reason, and then I would have followed their example had not the prisoner had my word of honor not to forsake him.
2. The testimony for the prosectution is loose, indefinity, and in the most part contradictory. Before any other court by that military commission it would have been an easy matter to uncover and bring to light a tissue of perjuries [such] as the world has seldom seen. Time will show that this assertion of mine is no empty one.
Captain Wirz was almost a prisoner himself at Andersonville. If permitted we could have proven by our witnesses that at different times he requested to be discharged, or to be sent to the Trans- Mississippi Department away from Andersonville. He tookt he responsibility of enlarging the stockade agaisnt the orders of his superiors, as appears from Colonel Persons' testimony, a witness for the prosecution; and "worked indefatigbly" for the benefit of the prisoners. Colonel persons, commandant of the post, in harmony with Wirz, approved what the later had done. Both sent remonstances to Richmodn, and the consequence of these remonstances was that General Winder was sent to Andersonville to stop tehm. It was Captain Wirz who complained of the bad bread (see his letter published in the testimoney); who asked for shoes or leather fromt herebel authorities for paroled Unon prisoners; who paroled about fifty young Union drummer boyus in order that they might escape the horrors of the stockade; who remosnstrated against having so many prisoners sent there; who gave writing materila toour boys to prepare a petition for exchange to Washington,a nd permitted
*See October 23, p. 769