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Doc. 147. drawing Lots at Richmond, Va.

The hostages for the Privateersmen.

The following is the official correspondence relating to the selection, by lot, of hostages for the prisoners of war:

C. S. A. War Department, Richmond, Nov. 9, 1861.
sir: You are hereby instructed to choose, by lot, from among the prisoners of war of highest rank, one who is to be confined in a cell appropriated to convicted felons, and who is to be treated in all respects as if such convict, and to be held for execution in the same manner as may be adopted by the enemy for the execution of the prisoner of war Smith, recently condemned to death in Philadelphia.

You will also select thirteen other prisoners of war, the highest in rank of those captured by our forces, to be confined in the cells reserved for prisoners accused of infamous crimes, and will treat them as such so long as the enemy shall continue so to treat the like number of prisoners of war captured by them at sea, and now held for trial in New York as pirates.

As these measures are intended to repress the infamous attempt now made by the enemy to commit judicial murder on prisoners of war, you will execute then strictly, as the mode best calculated to prevent the commission of so heinous a crime. Your obedient servant,

Headquarters Department of Henrico, Richmond, Virginia, Nov. 11, 1861.
sir: In obedience to your instructions contained in your letter of the 9th instant, one prisoner of war of the highest rank in our possession was chosen, by lot, to be held for execution in the same manner as may be adopted by the enemy for the execution of Smith, recently condemned to death in Philadelphia. The names of the six colonels were placed in a can. The first name drawn was that of Col. Corcoran, Sixty-ninth regiment N. Y. S. M., who is the hostage chosen to answer for Smith.

In choosing the thirteen from the highest rank to be held for a like number of prisoners of war captured by the enemy at sea, there being only ten field-officers, it was necessary to draw by lot three captains. The first names drawn were Captains J. B. Ricketts, H. McQuade, and J. W. Rockwood.

The list of thirteen will therefore stand: Colonels Lee, Cogswell, Wilcox, Woodruff, and Wood; Lieutenant-Colonels Bowman and Neff; Majors Potter, Revere, and Vogdes; Captains Ricketts, McQuade, and Rockwood. Respectfully, your obedient servant,

John. H. Winder, Brigadier-Gene. Hon. J. P. Benjamin, Sec. of War.

Headquarters Department of Henrico, Richmond, Va., November 12, 1861.
sir: In obedience to your instructions, all the wounded officers have been exempted as hostages, to await the result of the trial of prisoners captured by the enemy at sea. I have therefore made selections, by lot, of Captains H. Bowman and T. Keffer to replace Captains Ricketts and McQuade, wounded.

The list of thirteen will now stand: Colonels Lee, Cogswell, Wilcox, Woodruff, and Wood; Lieutenant-Colonels Bowman and Neff; Majors Potter, Revere, and Vogdes; Captains Rockwood, Bowman and Keffer. Respectfully, your obedient servant,

John H. Winder, Brigadier-General. Hon. J. P. Benjamin, Sec. of War, Richmond.

How the ballots were drawn: account by an officer.

Richmond prison, Va., Nov. 11, 1861.
sir: This lets you know that I am in as good health and spirits as could be expected under confinement so long. It is now sixteen weeks since I was taken, with many more, on the battle-field at Bull Run, and since that many more have been taken and brought here. They number in all, who have been brought to Richmond, as many as two thousand six to seven hundred. Some arrived as late as last night — a few from Fairfax and Leesburg; arid before, over 700 from the Leesburg battle of the 21st of October, and on the north side of the Potomac, which no doubt you have got the news of. I think that through and by the same flag of truce that this comes, other versions and the details of the battle will be sent by officers in full knowledge of the facts, from the spot, which of course you will become acquainted with.

There is one thing I wish to let you know, which is this: the General in charge of this post, Richmond, Brigadier-General Winder, with five or six other officers, came into prison yesterday at four o'clock P. M., called us officers to order, and stated that he had an order from the War Department to ballot one out of the highest rank of the six colonels now prisoners of war in their possession, and the one balloted and drawn to be placed in a cell in prison, similar to that in which the condemned [352] pirate Smith at Philadelphia is placed, and to be disposed of according to his fate. The ballots being prepared, the names of the six were as follows:

1. Col. Lee, Twentieth regiment Massachusetts Volunteers.

2. Col. Cogswell, Forty-second New York Zouaves.

3. Col. Corcoran, Sixty-ninth New York State Militia.

4. Col. Woodruff, Second Kentucky regiment.

5. Col. Wilcox, First Michigan regiment.

6. Col. wood, Fourteenth New York State Militia, Brooklyn.

There were placed fairly in a tin or ballot box, a cap covering it, and then well shaken. The drawer appointed by the General was the Hon. Alfred Ely, M. C., of Rochester, N. Y. It so happened that the said lot fell on Michael Corcoran, colonel of the Sixty-ninth regiment New York State Militia, now at Castle Pinckney, near Charleston, S. C. Then the other five colonels were to stand with others next in rank to them against and in lieu of the other thirteen under trial for piracy, and also to be dealt with accordingly. The officers next in rank, to make up the thirteen, are:

Major Potter, Thirty-eighth regiment N. Y. Volunteers.

Lieut.-Col. Neff, Second Kentucky Volunteers.

Major Revere, Tenth regiment Mass. Volunteers.

Lieut-Col. Bowman, Pennsylvania.

Major Vogdes, U. S. First Artillery.

Then out from among the captains were drawn three to make up the thirteen, the drawing done by Mr. Ely. It happened that the first three drawn from the box were these:

1. Capt. McQuade, Thirty-eighth regiment, N. Y.--not expected to survive from wounds received at the battle of Manassas.

2. Capt. Rockwood, Fifteenth Mass.

3. Capt. Ricketts, U. S. First Artillery; he still lies in a critical condition since the 2d July in one of the hospitals here. His wife has been his attendant ever since she could get to him.

It was emphatically stated that whatever course was taken with those fourteen pirates by our Government, the same course would be followed in dealing with those selected in this way — so that we wait impatiently to know the fate of our brother officers. I remain yours, most respectfully,

John Whyte, First Lieut. Seventh-Ninth Regt. N. Y. S. M.

P. S.--10 A. M. Nov. 12.--Gen. Winder has just come to the prison and called the captains, eleven in number, and balloted two out from them in place of the two whom I have mentioned as not fit to be removed from the hospital to the prison cells. The two drawn happened to be:

1. Capt. Keffer, Co. N, First California regt., Philadelphia.

2. Capt. Bowman, Co. E, Fifteenth regt. Mass. Vol.

Preparations are being made to put the selected in the cells of the county prisons. We trust there will be no hanging, and we are all in pretty good spirits.

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