War of the Rebellion: Serial 121 Page 0850 PRISONERS OF WAR AND STATE, ETC.

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official papers in the Capitol at Richmond shortly after its capture, and published with the testimony upon the trial referred to. In this letter the writer, after alluding to a recent conference with Davis, at which the subject of burning our towns, cities, and shipping had been freely considered and discussed, goes on to enforcfe the practicability of the scheme, in which he with Professor McCulloh, General Harris, and others were interested, of the wholesale destruction not only of the property of the United States, but of private property as well as of human life, both at sea and on land, by means of a combustible material carefully constructed for that purpose. The letter concludes by urging it upon Davis to have an interview with Harris, who, it is thought, will be able to convince the latter of the entire feasibility of the project. It cannot escape observation that so appalling seemed this proposal that, with all the demoralization which the rebellion had wrought, it was still feared that men could not be found sufficiently fiendish to undertake the execution of such a programme of crime; and hence the suggestion made, and pressed upon Davis by Oldham, that so ingeniously had McCulloh arranged the combustibles that they could be used not only, to quote the terms of the letter, "without exposing the party using them to the least danger of detection whatever," but that "the work might be done by agents, and in most cases by persons ignorant of the facts and therefore innocent agents." It is difficult to conceive of a more diabolical proposition than that presented by this letter, involving as it did all the elements of assassination, and contemplating upon a scale probably without a parallel in the history of the race the murderous sacrifice of the lives of unarmed non-combatants, whether found in their homes upon land or beyond the reach of succor in ships at sea. But upon this proposition is indorsed, in the hand-writing of Davis himself and over his own initials, a direction to his Secretary of State to 'see Harris and learn what plan he has for over-coming the difficulty heretofore experienced;" thus evidently referring to the attempt which had recently been made by the rebel agents, Kennedy and others, to burn at night the city of New York, but which attempt had failed from the detective character of the materials employed. The unhesitating and confident manner in which proposals of this class are perceived to have been addressed to the head of the rebellion, in connection with the absence of all discussions as to their criminality, and the earnestness with which their practicabilty was urged as a ground for their acceptance, while it evinces the fact that the idea of assassination as a mode of warfare was widespread in the South, indicates also the general conviction that such schemes as those thus advanced were favored by Davis. And the action of the latter, in testing the feasibility of these schemes by giving them the direction described, can, it is believed, leave no doubt as to the spirit which actuated these references. When King Pyrrhus, in the prosecution of an unprovoked war, was laying waste the territory of Rome, his physician secretly offered to Fabricius, the Roman Consul, then in command of the armies of the Republic, to take the life of the King by poison, provided a proper compensation should be made to him for the infamous service. Fabricius, however, instead of referring the matter for consideration or for inquiry whether all difficulties in the way had been overcome, spurned the atrocious proposal, and in a brief note, as simple as it was morally grand in its terms, addressed by himself and colleague to Pyrrhus, he informed him of the offer, and placed the letter containing it in his hands, and added: "You will see by this letter, which was sent to us, that you are at war with men of virtue and honor, and trust knaves and villains." The result was that the traitor and would-be