In concluding this report of the business of this Bureau, it is thought proper to advert to two cases of unusual public importance, which were prepared under its supervision, and tried by military commission, since the last session of Congress-that of the assassins of President Lincoln and their accomplices, and that of Wirz, the keeper of the rebel prison at Andersonville, Ga.
The first of these cases was brought to trial in May last before a court convened by the President, and composed of two major- generals, one brevet major-general, three brigadier-generals, one brevet brigadier-general, a brevet colonel, and a lieutenant- colonel. The Government was represented by the Judge-Advocate- General of the Army, assisted by an experienced military judge- advocate, and by a distinguished lawyer, who had also lately acted for the United States in the conduct of a most important prosecution by court-martial. The accused were defended by counsel of their own selection, seven in number. The trial occupied fifty-three days-between 300 and 400 witnesses, in all, having been examined-and was concluded by seven able and elaborate arguments of counsel, the final reply thereto and argument of Honorable John A. Bingham, on the part of the United States, being annexed hereto as part of this report.* The formal brief review of the case by this Bureau is also appended.*
The inevitable result of this trial had been generally anticipated throughout the country, and has now become matter of history. The most deeply guilty of the conspirators were sentenced to be hung, and their sentence was summarily executed by order of the President. Of the others, three were condemned to imprisonment for life, and one to an imprisonment for six years, at hard labor; and these are now undergoing confinement at the military prison at the Dry Tortugas, Fla.
A full and complete record of the testimony and of the proceedings of the Commission has been prepared under the supervision of an officer of the Government, and will presently be given to the public.# To this publication reference must be had for the details of the evidence upon this momentous state trial.
The case of Wirz was conducted before a commission also constituted by the President, and composed of one major-general, three brevet major-generals, two brigadier-generals, one brevet brigadier-general, one brevet colonel, and one lieutenant- colonel; the prisoner being represented by two counsel of his choice. The victims of the accused had been so numerous that the mass of testimony was nearly as great as that adduced upon the former trial, and the period of time occupied by the investigation even longer. The number of witnesses examined was 148. Of these a considerable proportion had been connected with the rebel military service. Besides the evidence from these sources, much important testimony obtained from the archives of the rebel Government-including the records of the prison at Andersonville-was also laid before the Commission. The capital sentence in the case was forthwith approved by the President, and this criminal has recently paid such penalty as the law could impose for his repeated murders and other atrocious violations of the laws of civilized warfare.
As it would be impossible to present, in the limits of a brief official report, even an abstract of the evidence upon this trial, a copy is
*Here omitted; but see House Executive Document Numbers 1, Thirty-ninth Congress, first session, pp.1006-1060. Also see foot-note, Series II, Vol. VIII, p. 700.
#Published by Moore, Wilstach & Baldwin, Cincinnati, 1865, under the title "The Assassination of President Lincoln and the Trial of the Conspirators."