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Letter from Benj. Butler to W.J. Munden and Pender Weeks in regards to their wives being held hostage. This letter cited in CS Congressional Investigation


Fort Monroe, January 26, 1864.

MESSRS: In answer to your application in regard to your wives held as hostages by General Wild for the treatment of his colored soldier, Samuel Jordan, of the Fifth U. S. Colored, upon a full examination I have determined-

First. That as no difference was made between Jordan and Daniel Bright on account of color, one being hanged in retalition for the other by the rebel authorities, the case presupposed by General Wild when the hostages were taken in the persons of these women, that some different treatment would be meted out to his soldiers because of his color not having arisen, the order given by him for execution of the women in retaliation will be revoked.

Second. I will return the women to Northwest Landing with a copy of this note, as direction to the officer there that upon your placing yourselves in his hands in their stead, to be treated as prisoners of war unless some outrage not justified by civilized warfare is perpetrated by the men of your commands, the two women, Mrs. W. J. Munden and Mrs. Pender Weeks, will be delivered to their friends.

I take leave to assure you that nothing has been done to them to annoy, insult, or injure them, except the detention, as I have no doubt they will inform you when you see them.

I am compelled to require your presence and detention instead of your wives on account of further threatened retaliation made by the men of your regiment upon the soldiers who may be unfortunate enough to fall into their hands, and in order that the transaction may assure you and your people-

First. That we will carry on this war upon the rules of civilized warfare if permitted to do so by the rebel authorities.

Second. That we will not permit outrages upon our men without swift, severe, and stern retaliation, it is for your friends therefore to make the choice.

Daniel Bright, who was executed by General Wild, was a deserter from the Sixty-second Georgia; was wrongfully enlisted in the Sixty-sixth North Carolina; was engaged not in warfare, but in pillage and murder, as a guerrilla; was duly tried by court-martial, sentenced, and hanged; and the execution of Private Jordan in retaliation for that act will be made the subject of other and different measures from any that relate to yourselves and your treatment.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, yours,

Major-General, Commanding.

SOURCE: Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, Series 2, Volume 6, Page 877-888

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