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Prison life of Jefferson Davis.

[See Ante, pp. 338-46.]

Savannah, Ga., Feb. 20, 1905.
Writing to the Savannah Press. Mrs. Jefferson Davis calls upon General Nelson A. Miles to produce a letter, which he claims to have from her, thanking him for his kind treatment of President Davis at Fortress Monroe, or to cease referring to it.

Her letter says in part:

I have not the least memory of having written such a note to him. It is conceivable that whilst in ignorance of the facts, or in hopeful recognition of some improvement in the treatment inflicted upon my husband, I may have made some acknowledgement of what I may have construed as common humanity at a time, when [372] had I known the facts as they existed, I neither could nor would have written, save in indignant protest.

Forty years have passed since General Miles perpetrated the cruelties for which he is now undergoing some measure of punishment at the hands of his own public. During that period, he has not hesitated to shift the responsibility for his acts upon others. The publication of instructions under which he claims to have acted and the correspondence which led up to them, have long since convinced every candid mind that his treatment of Mr. Davis was gratuitous, neither justified nor required by the orders of his superiors.

The public attention cannot be deflected from the terrible charges under which General Miles rests by a controversy over a letter concerning even the existence of which no stronger proof is advanced than the bare assertion of General Miles. But in-so-far as it may be of any importance, my estimate of General Miles' character is such that I am constrained to demand that if the letter exists a photographic reproduction showing the date, the place of writing, the contents and the signature be given to the public. If it is of the vital importance which General Miles seems to claim, surely the situation from his own standpoint suggests that the slight trouble involved would be justified.

In a memoir of Mr. Davis' life, written by myself, after his death, I exposed General Miles as fully as I thought was needful, but purposely added very little to the testimony of General Miles' subaltern, Dr. Craven, furnished in his Prison Life of Jefferson Davis, printed and published whilst Mr. Davis was still a prisoner. I had experienced so many times General Miles' adroit evasions and substitutions of his own invention for the truth in other matters, that I did not choose to rest on my unsupported testimony. My daughter has answered General Miles' untruthful version of his conduct given to the public after forty years of putative silence broken only by rumors of secret asseveration of his innocence and invective against me and in many other of the devious ways with which he seems familiar. While the witnesses were alive, why did he not put in his defense and tax his subaltern with falsehood? Awakened to the heinousness of his conduct by a closer association with educated gentlemen, he doubtless feels the shame which stabs and clings to him now that the passions attendant upon war are passing away and he stands forth revealed to his countrymen in his true light. We are cautioned in Holy Writ not to bring a “railing accusation” against any sinner however great his fault, and I do not desire any controversy with anyone, especially not with one whose perceptions of truth are so vague and misty.


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