he Confederacy had become a power among the nations.
On June 3, 1861, the little schooner Savannah, previously a pilot boat in Charleston harbor and sailing under a commission issued by authority of the Confederate States, was captured by the United States brig Perry. The crew was placed in irons and sent to New York.
It appeared, from statements made without contradiction, that they were not treated as prisoners of war, whereupon a letter was addressed by me to President Lincoln, dated July 6th, stating explicitly that, painful as will be the necessity, this Government will deal out to the prisoners held by it the same treatment and the same fate as shall be experienced by those captured on the Savannah; and, if driven to the terrible necessity of retaliation by your execution of any of the officers or crew of the Savannah, that retaliation will be extended so far as shall be requisite to secure the abandonment of a practice unknown to the warfare of civilized man, and so barbaro
lass of men. It is one of an enduring character, to be asserted at all times, and against all conditions of citizens without favor or distinction.
Unless all are made to bow to the law, it will be respected by none.
Unless all are made secure in their rights of person and property, none can be protected.
An investigation was made by one of the city judges, and warrants were issued for the arrest of Major General Dix and several of his officers.
They voluntarily appeared by counsel on July 6th, and the argument was set down for the 9th.
On that day the counsel for the defense said:
Since this warrant was issued, the President of the United States has issued another order to General Dix, which directs him that, while this civil war lasts, he must not relieve himself from his command, or be deprived of his liberty to obey any order of a military nature which the President of the United States directs him to execute.
The result of the arguments was that the officers were he
either of them, or that of any other commissioned officer employed in drilling, organizing, or instructing slaves, with a view to their armed service in this war, he should not be regarded as a prisoner of war, but held in close confinement for execution as a felon, at such time and place as may be ordered.
In the case of William B. Mumford, a letter was received from General Halleck, dated August 7, 1862, stating sufficient causes for a failure to make an earlier reply to the letter of July 6th; it asserted that no authentic information had been received in relation to the execution of Mumford, but measures will be immediately taken to ascertain the facts of the alleged execution, and promised that General Lee should be duly informed thereof.
Subsequently, on November 25, 1862, our agent for the exchange of prisoners, Robert Ould, under my instructions, addressed the agent of the United States, informing him that the explanation promised on August 7th had not been received; that,