to be taken by the 1st of March" following, a publication which seems to have been made and circular without rebuke from any quarter.* Of the official communications referred to, the first, which is in the form of a letter to Davis from a citizen of Georgia, is dated September 12, 1861, and from that period, indeed, the chiefs of the rebellion appear to have accustomed themselves to look upon the project with interest and approbation. The formal proposition of this character next in date, found among the rebel archives, is that of a non-commissioned officer of the rebel army, who also addresses Davis directly, under date of August 17, 1863. In this letter the writer proposes to "organize a number of select men, not less than 300 to 500, to go into the United States and assassinate the most prominent leaders of our enemies," and indicates by name President Lincoln and honorable Secretary Seward. He represents that he has "made it a point to elicit the opinion of many men upon the subject," and that "most have confidence in its benefits to us." He then goes on to present the arguments in favor of the adoption of the scheme, urging that upon its execution all prominent men in the loyal States will perceive that "their existence is in the utmost peril" if they persist in the attempt to suppress the rebellion, and that such a panic and confusion will at once be produced at the North as to hasten peace and the independence of the South. The writer further details his personal record prior to and during the rebellion, saying, "I was opposed to secession, but am now committed to the death against subjugation or reunion." This paper, as is shown by the official indorsement thereon, was treated by Davis as one proper for consideration, and was referred, by his order, and apparently without scruple or hesitation, to his Secretary of War.
At this point the later communication of a similar character to that noticed of Lieutenant W. Alston to Davis may well be adverted to. This letter, found among the records of the rebel Government which were surrendered by Joseph E. Johnston to Major-General Schofield at Charlotte, N. C., in May last, has already been given to the country in the published testimony adduced upon the trial before mentioned. It is addressed to His Excellency the President of the Confederate States of America, and, though without date was found in a package of letters marked as received from July to December, 1864. The writer, who represents himself as a lieutenant in Dake's command, and as having in the previous June been engaged in a raid under Morgan, proposes to Davis to "rid his country of some of her deadliest enemies by striking at the very heart's blood of those who seek to enchain her in slavery," adding, "I consider nothing dishonorable having such a tendency." He further dilates upon his scheme, describes his recent escape from our lines as a prisoner of war, his flight to Canada, and his being these assisted by J. P. Holcombe (one of the well-known rebel agents in that country) to make his way back to the South through the blockade, and finally commends himself and his proposition to the favor of Davis by representing himself as the son of a member of Congress from Alabama in the years 1849 to 1851. The indorsement upon this communication also shows that it was carefully briefed and formally referred, by the order of Davis, to his chief executive war officer, and that it was marked when received by the Assistant Secretary of War, Campbell, "for attention."
Here, too, may be noticed the letter of W. S. Oldham (a member from Texas of the so-called Confederate Senate) to Davis found among the
*See Christensen to Smith, Series I, Vol, XLIX, Part II, p. 866.
54 R R--SERIES II, VOL VIII