Letter from W. G. Brownlow — his Treatment.
We copy from the Nashville Patriot
the following characteristic letter from Parson Brownlow
Knoxville Jail, Dec. 20. 1861.
Editors of the Nashville Patriot:
In your issue of the 17th inst. you say:‘"We learn that W. G. Brownlow
, imprisoned at Knoxville
, refuses to eat anything, desiring to starve himself to death.
I have no doubt, Mr. Editor
, that you have learned such thing, but it is wonderful intelligence!
And but for the fact that I do not wish to be understood as trying to commit suicide, I would not care to correct the erroneous statement.
The truth in my case is that I have now been in jail two weeks, and I have eaten too much every day, my family, with the permission of Brig. Gen. Carroll
, furnishing me with three meals each day. But for taking cold, and suffering from a sore throat, I could boast of usual health.
As it is I claim to be the most cheerful of more than one hundred prisoners I found here on my arrival.
But, sir, I will now give you an additional item or so, which many of your readers will peruse with interest, if you are allowed to publish them.
I left home about the 5th of November, with a view to collect some claims due my office for advertising, and to relieve the fears of my family, who were daily annoyed with the calls of drunken soldiers, calling before my house, and flourishing their side-knives and pistols, and making threats of violence.
The last week in November I received a letter from Brigadier-General Carroll
, inviting me to return, and promising me protection from personal violence.
On the 5th of December I received a brief letter from Major Gen. Crittenden
, inviting me to his headquarters in Knoxville
, promising me passports into Kentucky
, and a military escort to conduct me safe.
At the same time I was furnished with the copy of a letter to the Major-General
from J. P. Benjamin
, Secretary of War
, advising him to give me passports and a safe conduct beyond the Confederate
Supposing the head of the War Department, and the Major-General
commanding here, to be acting in good faith, I reported myself in person, and accepted the offer of passports.
I agreed to start on Saturday, and the General
designated Captain Gillespie
's company of cavalry for an escort.
But, on Friday evening, just before sundown, I was arrested for treason,
founded on certain editorials
in the Knoxville Whig,
since June last, the warrant being signed by Commissioner Reynolds
and Attorney Ramsey
I am, therefore, in jail — in close confinement — perfectly contented, and making no complaints against any one.
I am waiting patiently to see which is the highest power, the War Department at Richmond
, associated with the Major-General
in command here, or the Commissioner's Court
for Knoxville Nay, I am anxious to know whether the high authorities inviting me here were acting in good faith, or were only playing off a trick
to have me incarcerated!
I am not willing to believe that the representatives of a great Government, struggling for its independence, and having in charge the interests of twelve millions of people, intend to act in bad faith to me. The chivalrous people of the South
, and all the journals, have denounced the high handed measures of the United States Government in suspending the habeas corpus
act, suppressing public journals, and incarcerating citizens upon lettres cachet,
and I will not allow myself to believe that the Confederate Government will resort to similar tricks!
A Sequel to the above — trial of Brownlow — his release — letter from the Secretary of War.
The Knoxville Register
, of Saturday, says that the case of Parson Brownlow
, arrested for the publication of incendiary articles against the Confederate Government, was called up in court on last Friday:
The Deputy Marshal
, having been ordered to bring from jail W. G. Brownlow
, reported that Brownlow
was too unwell, as he represented himself, to appear at the courthouse.
Very few spectators were present.--The Commissioner
ordered the District Attorney
to proceed; whereupon the District Attorney
arose and read the following letter which he had just received from Mr. Benjamin
, Secretary of War
Your letters of the 17th and 19th inst. have been received.
In relation to Brownlow
's case, the facts are simply these: Brownlow
being concealed somewhere in the mountains, made application to Gen. Crittenden
for protection against what he called, a military mob or military tribunal, if he came to Knoxville
, professing his willingness to undergo a civil trial, i. e.,
a trial before the civil Court, as distinguished from court- martial, and as I understand Gen. Crittenden
promised to protect him from any violence and from any trial before a military tribunal.
In the meantime, Mr. Baxter
came here and represented that Brownlow
, who was entirely beyond our power and so concealed that no one could get possession of his person, was willing to leave the country and go into exile to avoid any further trouble in East Tennessee
, and proffered that Brownlow
would come in and deliver himself up to be conveyed out of East Tennessee
, if the Government
would agree to let him do so and to protect him in his exit.
had been in our hands, we might not have accepted this proposition; but deeming it better to have him as an open enemy on the other side of the line than a secret enemy within the lines, authority was given to Gen. Crittenden
to assure him of protection across the border if he came into Knoxville
It was not in our power, nor that of anyone else, to prevent his being taken by process of law, and I confess it did not occur to me that any attempt would be made to take him out of the hands of the military authority.
This has been done, however, and it is only regretted in one point of view, that is, color is given to the suspicion that Brownlow
has been entrapped,
and has given himself up under promise of protection which has not been firmly kept.
feels sensitive on this point, and I share his feeling.
Better that any, the most dangerous enemy, however criminal, should escape, than that the honor and good faith of the Government
should be impugned as even suspected.
gave his word only that Brownlow
should not be tried by the court martial, and I gave authority to promise him protection if he would surrender, to be conveyed across the border.
We have both kept our words as far as was in our power, but every one must see that Brownlow
would now be safe, and at large, if he had not supposed that his reliance on the promise made him would ensure his safe departure from East Tennessee
Under all the circumstances, therefore, if Brownlow
is exposed to harm from his arrest, I shall deem the honor of the Government
so far compromised as to consider it my duty to urge on the President
a pardon for any offence of which he may be found guilty; and I repeat the expression of my regret that he was prosecuted, however evident may be his guilt,
J. C. Ramsey, Esq
C. S. Dist
, Atty, Knoxville
Upon the reading of the foregoing letter, the Attorney
remarked that the arrest of Brownlow
had been made after consultation with the military authorities, who had given assurances that if Brownlow
should be arrested by civil process that the military would in no manner interfere in his behalf, except to protect him from personal violence, that this arrest had been made because of the following and similar articles which had been published in Brownlow
"Let the railroads on which Union citizens of East Tennessee
are conveyed to Montgomery
in irons, be eternally and hopelessly destroyed!
Let the property of the men concerned be consumed, and let their lives pay the forfeit, and the names will be given!"
District Attorney Ramsey
then proceeded to say that he would enter a nolle prosequi
only upon the ground that the good faith of the Confederate States
Government should be carried out in this case, and Brownlow
be transported beyond our lines.
This he did that no imputation whatever should be made against the authorities at Richmond
of bad faith, no matter what might be the circumstances which led the authorities to such a conclusion.
For himself, he believed that Brownlow
could have been arrested, but as a different impression prevailed at Richmond
and the authorities acted upon that, from the information they had, he could not do otherwise than enter a nolle prosequi.
, having heard the letter of the Secretary of War
, remarked that, under the circumstances, he could not hesitate as to the discharge of Brownlow
, and so ordered.
The indignation at his discharge.
The Knoxville Register
The indignation of the soldiers here, upon hearing of his release, we understand to have been intense.
What may follow we cannot conjecture, though we presume the military authorities will see that he is protected and transported beyond our lines, where he will be able to co-operate with Johnson
was well enough to leave the jail last night, or what has become of him, we have not learned, though we understand it was the intention of the commander of the post here to hold him under arrest, with a view to his safe conduct beyond our lines.