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Avent Benton Brown Chalmers Clapp Duke Howry Morgan Thompson Walter Watson Webber

Letter from Major Thomas B. Webber, 2 Kentucky Cavalry to James A. Seddon regarding treatment as prisoner. October 22, 1863

OHIO STATE PENITENTIARY, Columbus, October 22, 1863.
Hon. JAMES A. SEDDON, Secretary of War, C. S. Army:
SIR: About the 1st of September, writing from Camp Chase to a friend in Kentucky in reference to the probabilities of our exchange, and in view of the proclamation of President Lincoln on the subject of negro soldiers, I used (as well as I remember) the following language, viz:

I cannot tell how long we will be prisoners. Until the end of time, yes, until eternity has run its last round, rather than our Government shall acknowledge the doctrine of negro equality by an exchange of negro soldiers. I hope all negroes captured in arms and their officers may be hung. I am willing to risk the consequences.

Meaning that I was in favor of executing the statutes of the Southern States as provided for negroes in insurrection, and those aiding or inciting such insurrection, and that I would scorn to accept liberty or life obtained at the sacrifice of principle on the part of a Government to the support of which my humble services as a soldier for the past three years have been devoted.

I am informed that this letter was sent to the War Department at Washington. Whereupon on the 10th of October I was placed in solitary confinement at this place. I respectfully ask that these facts be laid before the Confederate authorities that they may take such action for my relief as is deemed consistent with the policy and honor of our Government. I give the following references to my character, all of whom President Davis knows personally: Of Holly Springs, Miss.: Hon. J. W. Clapp, Member of Congress; Hon. J. W. C. Watson, General James H. Chalmers, General H. W. Walter, General Braggs staff; Col. Samuel Benton, Thirty-seventh Mississippi. Of Oxford, Miss.: Hon. Jacob Thompson, Hon. James M. Howry, W. F. Avent, James Brown.

Let me know if this reaches you.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,
Major (Duke's) Second Kentucky Cavalry.

[First indorsement.]

OCTOBER 22, 1863.

Respectfully approved. It will be perceived that Major Webber, a prisoner of war, has been punished for expressing sentiments hostile to the policy of the United States Government, the letter in which such expressions occurred having been submitted to the inspection of a Federal officer previous to being forwarded to its address.

Colonel of Cavalry, C. S. Army, Prisoner of War.

[Second indorsement.]

STATE PENITENTIARY, Columbus, Ohio, October 22, 1863.
Approved and respectfully forwarded. It will be seen that no violation of military law is alleged against Major Webber, his crime being simply the expression of sentiments hostile to the policy of the United States Government in the employment of negro slaves as soldiers.

Brigadier-General, C. S. Army.

[Third indorsement.]

Columbus, Ohio, October 24, 1863.

Respectfully referred to Colonel Hoffman, Commissary-General of Prisoners.

The order from the Secretary of War was to have Major Webber closely confined in the Ohio penitentiary. He has therefore been placed in a separate cell, but is allowed to exercise some five or six hours each day. His cell is not near enough to those of the other rebel prisoners to allow him to have any intercourse with them.*

Brigadier-General, Commanding.

* It is improbable from this indorsement, that Webber's letter to Seddon ever reached its destination. No further action is found.

SOURCE: Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, Series 2, Volume 6, pgs. 408-409

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