War of the Rebellion: Serial 121 Page 0861 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.- UNION AND CONFEDERATE.

Search Civil War Official Records

from the influence of their superiors as to venture to come forward and declare the truth. But up to a recent period it has been a matter of no little difficulty to induce these parties to voluntarily offer their testimony in these cases, and it is clear that the Government can be charged with no laches in not sooner instituting judicial proceedings in the instant of Clay. In consideration, however, of all the testimony in the possession of the Government, as well as that believed to be within its reach, it is concluded that but little further delay will be ecessary before the case may be prepared for trial. It is therefore advised by this Bureau that as soon as such preparations shall be completed this party be brought before a military commission upon charges, not only of complicity in the plot of assassination, but also of violation of the laws of war, in authorizing and directing guerrilla raids and the burning of cities, and in promoting the instroduction of pestilence into our territory. These latter acts, indeed, established as they are, not only by the evidence of others, but in part by his own written declarations, are of themselves proof that in prosecuting war upon his country he had reached a depth ofguilt which fully prepared him for participation in the culminating crime of the war. It has been shown that he exulted in the monstrous attempt to soread the yellow fever in this city, through trunks of infected clothing brought here and disposed of by an agent of the rebellion; and it has been further shown that he clamly contemplated and prepared for the destruction at night, by the torch, of towns and cities in the loyal States, thus seeking to doom to certain and agoining death throusands of innocent and unoffending citizens, among them the agend and inform, with women and children, lying in their beds in the helplessness of unconsious sleep. Can it be supposed that a man who had done all this in the interests of the rebellion would hesitate to take any single life in his way, even though it should be the life of the President of the United States? The probability indeed is, that in comparison with the crimes he had already committed he regarded this as but a venial offense. It may therefore be safely assumed that the charge against Clement C. Clay of having incited the assassination of the President is relieved of all improbability by his previous history and criminal surroundings. Should these conclusions be approved and the trial of Clay be at the proper time ordered it is conceived of public justice which are deemed to arise out of the testimony herein presented.

J. HOLT,

Judge-Advocate-General.

JANUARY 18, 1866.

Since the foregoing was prepared the depositions of four witnesses have been taken at this Bureau, by which it is conclusively proved that Clay was in Canada during the months of January and February, 1865, and also within a few days after the assasination of the President. We have thus the oaths of six witnesses, whose testimony is in direct contradiction to the audacious declarations of Clay in his application for clemency addressed to the Presiden, that at the date of the assassination he had been absent from Canada nearly six months. This falsehood must, it is believed, be accepted by the Government, as it clearly would be by the law, as one of the most striking indications of this man'sguilt, the consciousness of which on his part could alone have prompted is utterance.

J. HOLT,

Judge-Advocate-General.