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[714] should be noticed, was, in a peculiar degree, owing to the ability, zeal, and industry of Judge Advocate Burnett, whose services were appropriately recognized by the Secretary, by promoting him successively to colonel and brigadier general.

Many will recollect the great interest that was felt, in the year 1863, in the matter of the chartering of steam and other vessels at Fortress Monroe, in consequence of the discovery that a certain very influential Republican Senator of the United States had accepted a fee of three thousand dollars from the harbor master of that military post, while lying under charges in the Old Capitol Prison. There had been some very acrimonious passages between the Senator and Secretary Stanton, the former peremptorily demanding the prisoner's unconditional release (without mentioning the fact of the fee), the latter refusing. As a compromise it was finally agreed that I should be ordered to Fortress Monroe to prepare the case for speedy trial, and the necessary instructions were sent me from the department. I found plenty of fraud, but more to lay at the doors of others who had chartered vessels at the North, than at that of the prisoner. Enough, however, of probable cause was connected with him to induce his being tried before a military commission, over which Brigadier General Isaac I. Wister, of Philadelphia, presided, and his conviction followed.

In my “Third semi-annual report to the War Department,” in reporting this case, I used this language:

Evidence was elicited tending to show that the abuses of which the commission complained extend over the whole seaboard. The government has been in the habit of paying ruinous prices for the charter of vessels, some of which have been perfectly unseaworthy. The precious lives of officers and men, and public property to the value of millions of dollars, have been intrusted to rotten steamboat hulks, and greedy speculators and middlemen have been paid for their use prices of the most extortionate nature.

I have referred above to the loyal support constantly given me by Secretary Stanton. One instance will suffice by way of example. The Provost Marshal on Major General Schenck's staff, at Baltimore, had been guilty of scandalous conduct, which was at last brought to the Secretary's notice by a brigadier general of volunteers, who preferred formal charges. Through the Judge Advocate General I received the Secretary's order to investigate the charges and recommend what action should be taken. The result was the officer's arrest, confinement in the Old Capitol, his subsequent trial by court-martial, conviction of theft and perjury, and his sentence to the Albany Penitentiary, where he served out his term, if my memory

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