HDQRS. CITY GUARD, PROVOST-MARSHAL'S OFFICE,
Brig. Gen. A. PORTER, Provost-Marshal.
Said Dundas was sent to this office on the 1st of November last by Brig. Gen. L. P. Graham, stationed between this city and Bladensburg, Md., with a statement that he had been in the habit of leaving his home in the neighborhood on horseback early in the evening and returning sometimes late at night; that when challenged he would represent himself as 'officer of the road,' and would use tantalizing and insulting language, asking the sentinels why they did not arrest him, &c.; that the inmates of the house where he lived had been suspected of being secessionists, and that on previous occasions signals had been made from said house; that at the time of his arrest Dundas attempted to force his horse past the sentry challenging him, but did not succeed in so doing; that on being delivered by the arresting sentinel to the officer of the guard Dundas represented himself as a gentleman of means and one who had a right to go where he chose; that in answer to the inquiry why he was always away from his home at night in the present unquiet state of the country, knowing that the roads were lined with picket and grand guard, he said that he went to visit the neighbors; that as his time was his own he could use it as he chose; that in answer to the question whether he as in favor of our Government he said he was not; that he would never be with a Government that oppressed his country; that finally in answer to the question whether he was a secessionist he admitted that he was.
On examination at this office on the 1st of November Dundas stated that he was twenty years of age, and resided about four miles from Washington on the old Bladensburg turnpike; that he was a farmer and lived on a farm owned by his mother; that on the night of the 31st of October he was returning from Mrs. Wood's, who resided two miles from where he did, and when arriving at the forks of the road he was challenged by a soldier who was on guard; that he answered he was a "resident of the road," and not "officer of the road," as had been reported; that this was the first time that he had ever been stopped by the guard at that place; that when he was brought before the major (De Zeng) he told him the same in regard to himself as he stated on this occasion; that he admitted to those arresting him that he was a secessionist as he admitted on the present occasion, but had never taken any part with the secessionists against the Federal Government; that he had friends in the South but had no relatives in the Southern Army; that he had not written or received any communications to or from any of his friends now living in the South or verbally sent any cominunication to any of them; that he would not take the oath of allegiance to the Federal Government of the United States; that he would take the oath of allegiance to support the Confederate States Government so-called were he called upon to do so, and would be proud to be called a rebel under the present existing circumstances.
In a note to the Secretary of War dated January 29 Dundas says that he told the authorities of the provost-marshal's office that he would not take the oath of allegiance, and does not see why a man should be taken from his family at night and be made to take an oath which he had taken before that is to support the Constitution of the United States, and that he is willing to take the oath the second time. He also says that if he had told the officers he was a Democrat he would have been taken for as good as a rebel, and consequently he told them he was a rebel to wind up his statement of the case. Not content with this lame and prevaricating management of his own case he takes up the vindication of a fellow-prisoner and kindred spirit named Isaac Ballenger whom he has met with in prison, and of whose case he can know nothing except what he has ascertained in secret conclave and rebel communion in the Old Capitol. This Ballenger as will be seen by a report accompanying this is a violent secessionist who undertook to cross our lines into the rebel States in a surreptitious manner and was only arrested by the vigilance of our soldiers on the outposts.
Here we have the case of a sprig of would-be nobility suspected of disloyal practices but claiming to be a gentleman of means (to use his own language) with a right to go where he pleased night or day without being questioned by common soldiers on duty. When challenged by the sentinels of the U. S. Army picketed around the national capital day and night, through sunshine and storm, the faithful guardians of their country's honor and integrity, he has invariably thrown himself upon his dignity, insulted them to their faces and defied them to arrest him.
After his arrest under the most suspicious circumstances, relying upon the power and influence of his patrimonial wealth acquired from the patronage of the Federal Government, he has refused to take the oath of allegiance after having by his own acts compromised his position; has acknowledged fealty to the Confederate Government and has gloried in being called a rebel. All this has been done after plenty of time for reflection after the excitement naturally attending his arrest.
In his prevaricating note to the Secretary of War after nearly three months' confinement he but superciliously insults the intelligence of that Department while calling into question the common sense and honesty of this office. He says that he does not see why a man should be taken from his fanmily at night and be made to take an oath which he had taken before that is to support the Constitution of the United States; that he is willing to take the same oath again, &c.
It was under very different circumstances than being taken from his family at night that he expressed his unwillingness to take the oath of allegiance at this office. He here said nothing about having previously taken the oath even to support the Constitution of the United States and a proposition to have taken the same oath again with the "mental reservations" that he would be likely to make would hardly have been satisfactory.
He also says that if he had told the officers at the [provost-marshal's office] that he was a Democrat he would have been taken for as good as a rebel and he consequently told them he was a rebel to wind up his statement of the case and I suppose get rid of the plebeian public servants who were humbly endeavoring to ascertain his true relation to the Government.
Of course it is not necessary for me to say to you or the honorable Secretary of War that we are not in the habit at this office of confounding Democrats and rebels and that a man's civil politics or religion has nothing to do with his examination or disposition at these headquarters; and any full-grown man that would resort to such a miserable subterfuge and falsehood to effect his release does not deserve to succeed in his attempt.
The undertaking of Dundas after essaying to clear himself by this miserable prevarication to set himself up as a court-martial and coolly recommend the simultaneous release of one of the most dangerous characters confined in the Old Capitol Building is too ridiculous to be laughable these serious times.
Of course it is unnecessary for me to suggest that the safety of the country demands as a military necessity that this pert sprig of aristocracy-so full of secession venom that he would gladly forswear his foster Government, swear allegiance to the Confederate States and glory in being called a rebel-should be kept in close confinement until the end of the war for the Union. Of course any oath that he would now take would be merely for the purpose of getting out of confinement and would be but adding perjury to treason.
All of which is respectfully submitted by your obedient servant,
Source: Official Records, Series 2, Volume 2
Please make a generous non-tax deductible $5.00 donation to support our efforts.