Chapter XI: PRISON LIFE IN I866, CONTINUED - GENERAL SHERIDAN INTERVENES FOR BETTER TREATMENT OF PRISONERS.
[Note: "Frank" is Mrs. Mudd's family nickname, from her middle name Frances.]
[Note: "Frank" is Mrs. Mudd's family nickname, from her middle name Frances.]
Headquarters Military Division of the Gulf, New Orleans, July 21, 1866.
My dear Friend:
Your kind note of July I2 has come to hand, and gives me great pleasure to hear from you. I will write to General Foster to subject Dr. Mudd to only such punishment as is warranted by the condition of his sentence.
Should I visit Washington, it will give me great pleasure to pay my respects to you, and to renew to you my bond of love and reverence. I am,
Your obedient servant, PHIL SHERIDAN, Major General.
To Rev. N. S. Young,
St. Dominick’s Church, Washington.
St. Dominick’s Church, Washington, D. C., July 26th, 1866.
Mr. H. L. Mudd [father of Dr. Saml. A. Mudd].
My dear Friend: I send you this letter from General Phil Sheridan, hoping it may give you all some consolation to learn that your dear son, Dr. Mudd’s condition will be ameliorated. I wrote to General Sheridan to obtain for him at least this compassion. I told him that you and the Doctor’s family were my particular friends. As soon as you can, let the Dr. know the promise General Sheridan has made me; and ask him to inform you if General Foster has executed that promise.
I am sorry that your heart is yet afflicted by the continued bad health of your good wife. You will be resigned, I am sure, under all your great trials. They are intended by our good God to prepare us for a better life and add to our crown of glory. If possible, I shall pay you a visit soon, and once more have the happiness of offering up for you and your good family the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar.
Give my kindest respects and remembrance to each one of your family, and that God may bless you all is the prayer of
Your sincere friend, etc.,
N. S. YOUNG.
Fort Jefferson, Florida, July 26, 1866.
My darling Frank:
I received yours of the 10th this morning. The boat will return to Key West in a short time, so I can’t say much. With all my exertions, I have not been able to crawl from my present locality. Yet the mind with hopes, as in a dream, was carried from one period to another, and apparently when in the act of taking my flight to Heaven, and dreading to look back, fearing the fate of the wife of poor old Lot, all vanished as smoke, and the same dread reality existed.
Bright beams begin again to lend their light, and I have been induced to believe, with the visitation of cholera upon the city of “magnificent distances” and crime, a scatteration might be produced, and give our worthy Chief Magistrate a chance to look into my case, and purge it from the foul suspicions placed upon my unsuspecting shoulders, although he will be unable to repair the injury. Every dollar the nation is worth is insufficient to that end.
I am very sorry, my darling Frank, I can’t be more entertaining; be not offended with my criticism or resolutions, expressed in the foregoing. I forgot to credit you with the burdens and cares of our darling little children and family, and the distraction that they naturally produce. Write as often as inclination and freedom from the restraint of family will permit. I can’t ask more. I can write every day, and it would be an agreeable pastime, but there would be no opportunity of mailing, nor would it be necessary; but I never fail to comply with my promise to write by every mail that leaves this place. If you write often, I will always have a letter to answer, which will be far more agreeable and pleasant.
I shall be content until after Congress adjourns; after that, I shall be anxious, and look for some decided action to be taken by you and my friends; otherwise, I will give up all hopes of ever leaving this place alive, and live only to curse my enemies, as I will merely remark that I perceive not the slightest change in the character of your letters; it is another put off, another child’s play - to play and torment and vex me. I will now proceed to give you plainly what I mean by child’s play, viz: It was three months before Christmas that I had the happiness of dining with you on that festive day, then you had hired a servant who would remain until the spring (three months longer). I had the duty of supplying her place. Now, my darling Frank, what a splendid dinner! What delicacies, etc.! Don’t I enjoy myself? Then how I was favored in finding such a neat, tidy and active servant for you. The spider could no longer spin his silken cords unharmed, etc. The President’s proclamation appears in April. May, sweet May would be the consummation of all my earthly joys. I would be treated to green grass, and dipped into some health-restoring fountain. In a word, I would be transplanted to Elysium. Now, do you remember how I floated through the aerial vapors, resting in placid dreams upon the bubbling clouds and visiting the moon? Venus would attend me. The decision of the Supreme Court is made public, this is what has been looked for all the time. I am released from hell and summoned to heaven, but held by terrible Mars. Poor old Achilles, shot in the heel! Unforgetful mother! why didst thou not turn and dip the other end? Now I have a feast of three months longer. My darling Frank, I have grown weary of these delights; cease, for God’s sake, if not for mine, extending the time. The “first of September,” “two or three months longer,” “be patient,” etc., are expressions of yours, and seem only moments in your thoughts of the future; but they excite my calculations, and cause the days, hours, and minutes to be counted, whereas, if you said nothing, since you know nothing, the time might pass by and be forgotten. Don’t, my sweet wife, write any more in this loose style. Let me know whether you are sick or well, and the health of all home ones, the neighborhood and farming affairs, etc. I am not so anxious about release, so long as I know you are well and content, but I dislike being treated as a child. I am far less desirous about release now than I was some time ago. Fifteen months of the most brutal and degrading imprisonment has done its work. I am broken down and good for nothing. You spoke of turning gray - I am nearly bald.
In reading the papers, I perceive nothing clearer than the near approach of anarchy. I feel sorry for you and our dear little children, but for myself my enemies have done all the harm they can do me, and death would only free me from a greater misery. I hope they may meet with the chastisement their crimes deserve, in this world, as a warning to future generations. The inspired volume reminds us of Retributive Justice, and those need fear who have perjured, calumniated and endeavored to reform the divine laws, and remodel His works.
I have my usual health. We have three sentries within ten feet of our door that cry out the hours of the night at the pitch of their voices, which awakens us and destroys all sleep. This is a recent change and an aggravation. I have no news. The mail we received to-day is the only mail we have received of this month’s news. I received Mr. Harris’s speech, and two Sun papers from you. You need not bother yourself in sending the Sun, as we get it regularly; one of our members being a subscriber; also the Gazette. Comments from other papers, you can send.
Give my love to all home ones, present my kindest thanks to Mr. Best for his true devotion to self and family.
Your devoted husband, SAM.
Fort Jefferson, Florida, August 6, 1866.
My darling Frank:
I wrote to you last on the 26th and 30th of July. Mails arrive quite seldom now, owing, I understand, to quarantine regulations. One of the mail boats arrived here this morning, although bringing no mail. She will leave this evening at 6 o`clock. To relieve you of fear in my regard, I post these few hasty lines to acquaint you with the fact that I am in possession of my usual health and spirits. I am more afflicted when I think of you and our dear little children, knowing how dependent you must be, and how incapable you are to provide for self and family without the intervention of kind friends. Your burdens and responsibilities will increase daily, and you must sum up all your resolution and courage to brave misfortune. Instruct and educate the children as well as you can; be gentle, kind and positive, enforce obedience and respect now whilst they are young, and when they grow older they will not give you trouble and cause shame. You can promise yourself nothing certain in this world, therefore do not act on the idea that I will soon be home, and that it will be unnecessary for you to observe duties that it would be my place to attend to. Should I be favored with an immediate release, I fear I shall lack the strength, for a considerable time, to perform the least labor.
In appearance I have not much changed. I am told I am growing fat, and seem a picture of health; appearances deceive, and my legs have to work terribly to get the body along. Begin now, my darling Frank, to act as if you expected nothing, only what was to be accomplished through your own exertions, and you will not suffer the pain of disappointment, nor lack the energy when it is most needed. Give my love to all, write soon, and believe me as ever,
Your fond and affectionate husband, SAM.
Fort Jefferson, Florida, August 9, 1866.
My darling Frank:
The papers give full accounts of the proceedings of the National Convention, and the President’s proclamation restoring all the States to all their former privileges, which with the promise contained in your letter relieves me of all doubt regarding a much longer separation. I now hail with delight the thought of soon being in the fond embrace of you and our little ones, sharing with you, to the extent of my ability, the blessings and privations of life in this miserable world.
We are still under close guard. There is a sheriff at Key West. Should you get out a writ, it may be well to know the fact; but according to the learned counsel in the recent habeas corpus case at Charleston, we are in the hands of the President, and you will have to bring action against him. I am sorry to involve expense, which I know you cannot meet without the intervention of kind friends. Steamers pass here almost daily on their way to New Orleans, and other points on the Gulf, and it would be attended with but little delay to one of those to stop and take us off. By acting with the friends of my roommates, it would make the expense much lighter. A message could be sent per telegraph to New Orleans giving direction and instructions to competent parties, thus excluding the necessity of sending a party down from home.
This will be my last letter. Give my love to all.
Your affectionate husband, SAM.
Fort Jefferson, Florida, August 13, 1866.
My precious Wife:
I received yours of the 20th and 28th of July on the 10th. I was sorry to hear of our little ‘Tommy’s indisposition. I am in hopes it will soon pass away, and be my fortune to realize your expectations. You spoke of the murder of Mr. Lyles, and the papers mention the robbery of Mr. Posey. Owing to their proximity to you, I have suffered some alarm, knowing your timid nature and unprotected and helpless condition. Such crimes, and far more brutal, are of daily occurrence, and when far away hardly excite our horrors; so soon does the mind become familiar by their daily narration through the press. I think it advisable for the citizens to take measures of precaution, by appointing suitable officers in every district to inquire into the condition and purpose of every suspicious party. These atrocities are only the fruit of the late unnatural strife, and we can only blame the fanatical majority of Congress for their long continuance. Congress by its action has rather favored than imposed the needed restraints upon these horrid enormities.
I rejoice to see the noble response of the people in behalf of the President’s policy, the influence of which response, I am led to believe, will soon induce him to exert his constitutional prerogative and issue a proclamation of amnesty restoring to all the States their original rights and privileges. Much, though, depends upon the harmony of the Philadelphia Convention which meets tomorrow. The cholera prevailing there will, I fear, prevent a full attendance. You seem to manifest some uneasiness on my account, apprehending the injurious effects of the heat upon my feeble constitution. In this regard I must remark that the climate being more moist and equable, is not liable to the evil and depressing effects, as with you. Heat in the sun here is very great, yet rarely attended with “sun stroke”; no fatal case from this cause having occurred since I have been here. Whenever there is a breeze, which is generally the case, it is always pleasant. A strict eye is kept to the cleanliness of the place, and being remote from the main land, we have no fears of any infectious or epidemic disease. Unsuitable diet, beef, pork, etc., are more frequent causes of disorders and disease than locality or climate. We stand in need of a vegetable and fruit diet, of which this place is woefully deficient. My strength and general health have improved within the past week or two, with suitable diet and proper exercise, I feel that I would soon be my former self again. Allow yourself no unnecessary uneasiness. I have more fear concerning habits contracted by an unavoidable indolence than I have of speedy dissolution by organic or infectious disease. Mails arrive now very seldom, being seventeen days between the last two. Give my love to dear Ma, Pa, and the family.
I wrote to Jere some days ago and enclosed a note to you. We have money enough to supply our wants for some time to come, so give yourself no uneasiness on this point. I am truly delighted to know that your crops are looking well, and promise a fruitful yield. In Fannie’s last she spoke rather discouragingly of the prospects of the crops.
Kiss all our dear little children, and wishing you a pleasant and successful trip to Washington, I am, my darling Frank, as ever,
Your devoted husband, SAM.
Fort Jefferson, Florida, August 18, 1866.
My dearest Cousin:
I received your last a week or two ago. Being like yourself, without anything likely to interest, I delayed writing until the present, hoping for something to turn up, whereby I might be furnished with a theme; but the same old monotony continues to exist, etc. The fear that you may think your kind letters are not properly reciprocated, prompts me at least to an acknowledgment. Instead of a lack of appreciation, I value your letters more than all the rest of my correspondents, because you do not appear to disguise the true nature of affairs, and lead me contrary to the expectations of my friends - thereby causing the time to pass more observed, suspense more painful, and in the end, the blight of disappointment.
You asked me if I did not feel honored at seeing my name so often mentioned and commented upon in the “public prints.” I assure you, so far from exciting my pride, it creates in my heart only feelings of indignation. The greatest honor they can show me is to release me; until this is consummated, I shall consider their time, ink, and paper thrown away, and all they can say as empty. I am truly in hopes that what has been said will be the means of directing public opinion to the great wrong perpetrated upon my personal rights as an American citizen, and that the outrage will not be suffered much longer to continue.
We were visited the first week in July last by Father Clauriel (a little Frenchman) from Savannah, Ga. I had the consolation of going to confession, and receiving holy communion on the 8th.
My health is much better now than some two or three weeks ago. I attribute the change to the kindness of the officials in giving us a plank floor to our sleeping quarters. Up to a late period we were upon a dirty floor, which was very wet and damp all the time. After every rain, our quarters leak terribly, and it’s not unusual to dip up from the floor ten and twelve large buckets of water daily. We have a hole dug in the floor and little trenches cut, so as to concentrate the aqueous secretion, which facilitates the dipping up process and freeing the room from noxious miasma.
Having nothing more worthy at my command, I send you a small collection of moss-cards - ten small and one large intended for a wreath. I regret my bad taste, manipulation, and paper. Should I be so fortunate as to have an early release, I shall endeavor to procure a large assortment of shells, etc., considered curiosities with you, which I will present you with, should you desire them. They cost us nothing here, and if you wish them, let me know in your next, and if any particular variety.
Present my kindest regards to Sister M. and the rest of the saintly members of your association.
Hoping a continuation of your prayerful supplication, and to hear again from you soon, I am most truly and sincerely,
Your cousin, etc., SAMUEL A. MUDD.
To Sr. Joseph. [Carmelite Convent, Baltimore, Md.]
Fort Jefferson, Florida, August 20, 1866.
My darling Frank:
I am now feeling perfectly well, and improved in health and flesh, which I attribute to the laying of a plank floor in our quarters. My hair has also taken new life, and in a short time will have a thick suit, even where it was most thin. I am entirely without news of importance. The mails arrive now about once in three weeks, and in the interim nearly every one becomes cross and peevish. The mail boats, I understand, are not allowed to enter the port of Havana from this place without undergoing quarantine regulation, which causes the delay. The health of the Post remains remarkably good, no epidemic or infectious disease having made its appearance. The principal disorders arise, I think, from the use of stale and salt diet. We never use it, consequently remain exempt. I have not touched a piece of salt beef or pork for nine or ten months.
Don’t let this letter cause you uneasiness; for the future confide in none but the most honest and reliable. You need not reply to it, if prudence forbids. I fear injury to my cause has resulted from matters being made too public. You do wrong also, I fear, in communicating with Cousin Ann, and in mentioning the names of parties. Very often they do not like to be known, and often take offense. Be guarded, my darling child, how you act in the future. Use discretion, and don’t depend too much on your own judgment. My soul is tired of this place beyond expression - do nothing that may tend to prolong my exile. How anxiously I am waiting for the arrival of the promised release! Act immediately. I don’t see that anything can be gained by delay, for the courts, in the course of time, are bound to release us. Let me have at least an honest exposition of my case before the President.
Give my love to Pa, Ma, and all the family, and accept the most endearing sentiments of the heart of your afflicted and distressed husband,
Fort Jefferson, August 22, 1866.
My darling Frank:
I wrote to you on the 10th, 13th, and 20th, opportunity presenting. I again avail myself of this only pleasure, indulging with you a short pen and ink confab. By the time this reaches you, the first of September will be at hand, and with it the promise of a speedy “homeward bound,” as fast as steam and sail can bring me, your long-lost and desolate exiled; or will he be again doomed to disappointment? I can’t bring myself to believe those in authority will much longer disregard every principle of justice and fair dealing to satisfy vulgar thirst for vengeance. The Government certainly is aware by this time of the unprecedented number of false and perjured witnesses, and by no action being taken to bring these scoundrels to account, an invitation is indirectly given to these and every plotter against the lives and liberty of their fellow-men to continue, and come forward with their mendacious yarns for monied and party consideration. I am firmly convinced, by circumstances, that men were bought to give false testimony. Those in authority, in their zeal to find out the originators, actors, and accomplices, offered enormous rewards for evidence, and the apprehension and conviction of the parties. This alone was a sufficient inducement to the unscrupulous, who were adroit enough to frame a plausible tale, to make “merchandise” of the most sacred right and duty of man, his oath. For God’s sake lose no time in bringing this subject before the President. No matter how he decides (pro or con), I shall be happy to have the sanction of his authority.
The report of the Judiciary Committee favors the trial of Davis upon the false and frivolous charges which were adduced upon our trial in connection with the assassination. With equal justice might every distiller of whiskey be arraigned and tried for all the crimes committed by its abuse, and every man be at the mercy of an enemy capable of writing him a fictitious letter. I have read nearly all the charges made by this committee against Davis, and I can’t see for my life the least shadow of evidence to connect him with the infamous deed - which circumstances alone are sufficient to refute, independent of the unreliability of the testimony. Arnold’s letter, upon which they built the conspiracy, shows conclusively that up to a late period in March, 1865, Booth had no connection with the Richmond authorities, or their Canadian agents. This letter and his statement, which the Government has never made public, is worth all the evidence brought forward by the prosecution, so far as showing the motive and intention of the parties. I believe sincerely there are parties at the head of the different departments of the Government who delight in human affliction and suffering, especially when they can by any pretext prosper their own, or their party’s cause. I cannot view the conduct of Judge Holt otherwise; his attempt through a parcel of false and perjured statements, to bring public opinion to bear upon my case, after the trial was over, and when I had no power to rebut, shows his animus and is unpardonable for one occupying his position. I am ignorant of the laws, but certainly this act does not appear to me like justice. It is hard to suffer without the consciousness of having committed the least wrong, and with full knowledge of the foul and unfair means resorted to to bring it about. I am almost driven to desperation when I reflect upon the outrages I have already endured and continue to suffer. You will please impart the subject of this letter to my counsel and friends that they may determine and act immediately.
I am feeling quite strong again. We have, through the kindness of officials, a plank floor placed in our quarters, which renders it a thousand times more comfortable. Before, we were on the ground, and half of the room continually wet from leakage through the ceiling. Yesterday a negro accidentally fell overboard, and was drowned. There were a large number present, and no effort was made to save him. How tired I am of this life, and how anxious I am to see you and our precious little children, and home ones. When you write, do not disguise the truth. Let me know the worst and hope for the best. Answer this soon.
Give my love to all, and believe me as ever,
Your devoted husband, SAM MUDD.
Fort Jefferson, Florida, August 23, 1866.
My darling Frank:
I have just this moment received yours of the 7th and Fannie’s of the 2d. I am happy to know that you are all living and have thus far escaped greater afflictions than mere indisposition on the part of our dear little pets. It grieves me to hear of Ma’s continued bad health. Your letter differs on this point essentially from Fannie’s. God grant she may be spared many years yet is my constant prayer.
I am sorry you were not able to communicate more gladdening tidings after your visit to Washington. I suppose it was too early after adjournment, and the parties whom you mentioned preferred awaiting the action of the Philadelphia Convention, which met on the 14th instant, to obtain anything decisive. I regret to see so much subserviency on the part of our public men, without ideas or mind of their own, but mere weathercocks of public opinion. They seem to throw law and justice entirely out of the question, and are afraid to act only upon what may be public sentiment. So much afraid are they that their acts, though strictly in conformity to every principle of justice, may be used to the detriment of party, they hesitate and postpone action until warranted by circumstances to believe that no injury can result to their political ambition.
Fannie sent me the letters of Father Young and General Sheridan. You will present my thanks to Father Young for having through his solicitation, succeeded in calling the attention and influence of General Sheridan to the grievances under which we suffer.
We have been under close guard both day and night since November last, and no word or act of ours could escape the scrutiny of the sentinel. We can’t move five steps from our door without permission of the sergeant of the guard, and followed by the sentry. When we are at work or walking, we can’t move faster than the guard is disposed to walk himself, so you see all running, fast walking, wrestling, etc., is excluded. This is now our principal grievance, which has been brought about by no word or act of ours. All the rest of the prisoners, except those confined to the guardhouse, are allowed the freedom of the island; we ask no more. The only amelioration we have received recently is the rendering our quarters more comfortable by a plank floor instead of the former dirt, wet and damp. I do not complain of the labor, it is comparatively nothing, but being under guard is a continual confinement, or a check to all free exercise.
By this morning’s mail I learn the four recently arrived prisoners from Charleston will be transferred to Fort Delaware, thereby placing them under the operation of the writ of habeas corpus. I think it would be better on the part of the Government to release them at once, than place them where they can effect it with a little trouble and expense. Nature provides for all its wants, and on that principle alone can I explain the peculiarity of my appetite. All articles of meat, salt and fresh, are repulsive. I can’t bear the sight of them. My diet consists principally of molasses, when we can get it, butter, canned tomatoes, beans, etc. The bread we get is usually very good, though at times is very bad. Having little or no duty to perform, and no exercise, but little and the lightest diet is required to satisfy the wants of nature. Gross, heavy diet would, in this climate, and under existing circumstances, be highly injurious. I am told by all that I am growing fat, yet I do not consume in a day as much as one of our little children at one meal. With the exception of bread and coffee, we subsist ourselves entirely by making little work boxes, picture frames, which we shell and inlay with different kinds of colors of wood. These command a ready sale to visitors, and soldiers of the garrison. Should my stay be protracted beyond September, you can write to Tom to send me a box, as everything is very high at the post sutler’s. I am very well and hopeful.
Fort Jefferson, Florida, August 31, 1866.
My darling Frank:
The last letters received were Fannie’s of the 2d and yours of the 7th of August. I am very well. No news worthy of interest. The mail leaves in a short time, so I have no time to say more. I wrote to you last on the 22d and 23d of August, and made known to you then all that was desirable on my part. I have no further request to make, but hope sincerely this may be the last tidings you may have from me in the shape of a letter from this place. The Fort has been unusually healthy thus far. Remember me to Mr. Best, and tell him not to expose himself, in securing the crops, unnecessarily.
Give my love to all, and pray for your disconsolate husband,
S. A. MUDD.
Fort Jefferson, Florida, September 3d, 1866.
My dear Tom:
I have been truly anxious to hear from you for some time. I have been led to believe the whole South exterminated, or reduced to abject slavery, until news of the recent riot reached us. I am grieved at the occurrence, the loss of valuable lives, but proud to know there is manhood enough left among the people to rebuke the oppression of the interventionists.
The mail will leave in a few minutes, so I have barely time to tell that I am well and continue to hope for an early release. Why don’t you write to me sometimes? You do not say in any of your short notes with whom you are engaged in business, or speak concerning any of our old relations and friends. Write occasionally and send me papers that may contain matters of interest. The last intelligence I had from home was from Frank dated August 7. Jere seldom writes, and when he does, never gives any neighborhood news, consequently I am ignorant of what is transpiring outside of this miserable place.
Write soon and give all news. Remember me to all relatives and friends, and believe me most truly, Your brother, etc.,
Fort Jefferson, October 11, 1866.
My darling Frank :
Yours of the 14th of September, also a box and thirty dollars from Tom has been received. I regret to hear of your troubles and our afflicted little children. You ask counsel upon the subject of my release (this is done, I suppose, to make delay plausible). You know that I am unable to give advice, being unacquainted with the difficulties and circumstances.
Fearing my silence might be misconstrued, you see I have again written, though contrary to previous resolves. I am well. Give my love to all, kiss our darling little ones, and answer, Your devoted husband,
Fort Jefferson, Florida, October 14, 1866.
My darling Frank:
I received to-day yours of September 24 expressing some fears as to the statement in some paper regarding me. I received word also from the General, informing me of the reception of a letter from you, inquiring into the truth of the matter. I am sorry you should have been misled by so apparent a fabrication. I am very well and my health much better than some time ago.
Parties who are given to lying and suborning perjury to sustain their own wicked preconceived ideas, can easily invent a malicious newspaper report. For the future, give yourself no uneasiness concerning what may be said by newspapers. I wrote to you on the 9th and 24th of September and the 11th of October. These letters will reach you, though containing no denial (as I was not aware of the lie), and it will be evident that no such outrage has taken place.
Tell Jere to try and find out from whence this infamous report originated. I can scarcely credit the idea that it came from this place, although I do not know the animus of those around me, having had no conversation nor disposition, since I have been so falsely and inhumanly represented and treated.
Fort Jefferson, October 28, 1866.
My dear Jere:
Except by indirect allusion of others, it has been a long time since I have heard from you. Time has already falsified the predictions which they gave upon your authority, and it has seemed to me “you picked the stones for others to throw” - but enough, I must be short. The time intervening between this and the assembling of next Congress is growing quite short, and the indications are that there will be a stormy time between the President and the majority. Should matters be prolonged until that period, I shall give up all hope, for the excitement consequent will be plead an excuse for further delay and continuing the outrage, against me, of all law, justice and humanity. Neither the President nor Congress will assume the responsibility to release, and I shall be here a living sacrifice to the damnable ends of party.
I saw something in the papers some time ago intimating that a memorial was being gotten up by my friends, and would be presented to the President, on his return from the West, for my release. A considerable time has elapsed since, and I have not heard a single word in reference. I am truly desirous of knowing something definite in regard to my future fate, or what may be the pleasure of the Government.
An order came by the last mail to send on the names of all those who have been here six months, except the state prisoners (meaning us), and those who are here upon the charge of murder, arson, and rape. We are the only prisoners that are styled state prisoners.
Why is this? Let me know in your next.
Hoping you will not let this (only) auspicious moment mentioned above pass disregarded, and that you will let me hear from you immediately upon the receipt of this, I am,
Most truly your brother,
Fort Jefferson, October 30, 1866.
My darling Frank:
I wrote you last on the 25th, also by the same mail to Cecie and Cousin Ann. I wrote yesterday to Jere, and made known to him all my desires. You had better in future consult him in reference to all domestic affairs, and act agreeably to his judgment. I have but little means of ascertaining the many difficulties and embarrassments under which you have to contend, therefore, incompetent to form an opinion.
I view actions more than I do words. What concerns me most, seems nobody’s business, and I am fast losing all forbearance under the cruel and unwarranted oppression to which I am subjected, the result of a tyrannical and unjustifiable usurpation. I have been over eighteen months languishing in prison for no crime against God or man that I am cognizant of, and I think it high time the friends of humanity and law, particularly my own personal friends and relations, were coming to the rescue. I don’t believe any good will come of the party or nation that will tolerate such injustice; sooner or later they will meet with the same judgment and chastisement they mete to others.
For the future try not to deceive me by representations from others. The six weeks and the two months have passed, and I am still here a victim to the folly of the nation. Do not let me lose confidence in you, do not throw stones which others have picked.
Jere was kind enough to give you this information perhaps for your own satisfaction. He told Cousin Ann the same, yet he has not written one word in regard to me. Does not this look contradictory, and that he intended to deceive me through you and others?
The Court refuses to try Davis agreeably to appointment, and it is quite uncertain whether they will meet at the regular term in November; if so, their judgment upon the trial of civilians by court martial will continue to remain unfiled, also upon the test oath question. I am unable to surmise, having had no information from any of my friends, and only such news as I have been able to glean from a lying and infamous press.
Let me know at your earliest convenience what has been done favorable, or otherwise. Let me know the whole truth, if prudent, otherwise it will not be necessary to mention the subject. I would rather be in complete ignorance than have the reliance of mere conjecture. Write soon and give all neighboring and farming news.
Sincerely hoping this may be my last letter, and that our present afflictions are near at an end, I bid you a hopeful adieu,