War of the Rebellion: Serial 121 Page 0839 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.-UNION AND CONFEDERATE.

Search Civil War Official Records

And even more significantly, as showing that he had recently been brought in contact with a notorious rebel agent in Canada, found by the late military commission to have been implicated in the assassination of President Lincoln and other chief officers of the Government, he observes in speaking of his escape as a prisoner of war:

I shapped my course North and went through to the Canada, from whence, by the assistance of Colonel J. P. Holcombe, I succeded in making my way around and through the blockade.

The letter concludes as follows:

If I do anything for you I shall expect your full confidence in return. If you do this I can render you and my country very important service. Let me hear from you soon. * * * I would like to have a personal interview with you in order to perfect the arrangements before starting:

Upon this communication there was found to be the following indorsement:

A, 1390. Lieutenant W. Alston, Montgomery Sulphur Springs, Va. [No date.] Is lieutenant in General Duke's command. Accompanied raid into Kentucky and was captured, but escaped into Canada, from whence he found his way back. Been in bad health. Now offers his services to rid the country of some of its deadliest enemies. Asks for papers to permit him to travel within the jurisdiction of this Government. Would like to have an interview and explain.

Respectfully referred, by direction of the President, to the Honorable Secretary of War.

BURTON N. HARRISON,

Private Secretary.

Here, then, is exhibited the fact that Harrison was fully informed of the contents of this letter, which can be constructed only as a deliberate offer to proceed to the assassination of the heads of this Government, and that, being so informed, he did not hesitate to do his part in promoting the infamous designs of the writer by referring it at once to the executive war officer of the rebel Government for action. If he had not been himself an assain at heart he would have shrunk from furthering such a villanious undertaking, and would have exposed and denounced it, as well as its author. Instead of this be becomes, without a scruple, the instrument by which this fiendish project is made to receive the grave consideration accorded to an important State paper, and as a man of intelligence and education, and in view of the position which he occupied, he must be held personally responsible for the sanction thus awarded to its proposals. When, indeed, it is considered that the offer of Alston, suggested to him, as it may well have been, during his association with the representatives of the rebellion in Canada, was but a part of that deliberate scheme of assassination which was for so considerable a period maturing in the rebel councils, and which but a few months after the date of the letter referred to was actually executed by the murder of President Lincoln and the attempted murder of the Vice President and Cabinet, the guilt attaching to the act of one who in any manner advanced such schemes is perceived to be of no slight character. It remains but to notice that the application of Harrison for a pardon or parole from his prison has received the following indorsement:

Mr. PRESIDENT:

This is the case I talked with you about a few days ago. The petitioner has been merely an amaneunsis to Davis; has never been in the war against the Government of my wife. The fine little girl has had bad luck, for I am told that she came here before the fall of Richmond for the wending garments and was sent back without them. She begs me to appeal to you make Merry Christmas of that at hand.

F. P. BLAIR.