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A blog of Nineteenth Century history, focusing, but not exclusively, on the American Civil War seen through the prism of personal accounts, newspaper stories, administrative records and global history.
A thousand tales. A miscellany. A maze of historical tangents.

A Capitol View

A Capitol View
Images of 1861 juxtaposed- Union Square, New York vs. Capitol Square, Richmond

Monday, June 2, 2014

Unamiable Firmness and General Wistar: Addendum

 In reference to the April executions at Yorktown we have General Butler's side of the correspondence . . .

                   From General Butler

Brig. Genl' WISTAR, YORKTOWN                         April 11, 1864
DETAIL a Court Martial at once, try them on the spot. Send to me for approval of the conviction by telegraph.
Catch those that are running away at all hazards. Shoot them if necessary.

                    BENJ. F. BUTLER, Maj. Gen. Comdg.

                From General Butler

Brig. Gen l. WISTAR, Comdg. at YORKTOWN             April 13, 1864

I HAVE not respited the execution for any want of purpose, to make the most pungent examples of these substitute deserters, but we cannot take life without the forms of law except the imperious law of necessity. The record of the proceedings is defective in this, it contains no statement of a point at which the prosecution closed their case. 2nd- there is no record that the accused was allowed to examine witnesses in his own behalf, there is no record that he was allowed to make any statement to the court in his behalf. Now I have no doubt that all this was done, because all Court Martials do it;the difficulty is that the record, to have it amended, [must go] by special steamer. Shall ask you to call the Court together to have it amended to-night. When I receive it amended, a telegram will go to have the execution done. See that the other records are amended and sent back by the boat. Have the record state in each case whether the man is a recruit, substitute, or conscript.

                BENJ. F. BUTLER, Maj. Gen. Comdg.


                From General Butler

Brig. Gen. WISTAR, YORKTOWN                 April 14, 1864
I FORWARD you by the boat to Yorktown the approval of the proceedings in the case of privates Egan & Holt, whom you will cause to be executed at such time and place as you choose to direct after receiving the order, and had better in form them at once of the order and its time of execution, and of the fact that it is irrevocable.
Send forward any other records that you have, and see that they are correct. The record of the case of Holt is slightly irregular in not saying whether the prisoner had an opportunity to examine witnesses, but having counsel there, and having exercised it, that may properly enough be presumed. A good way to do is to say after each witness (if the fact be so) that the prisoner did not wish to question this witness.

                BENJ. F. BUTLER, Maj. Gen. Comdg.

-Private and official correspondence of Gen. Benjamin F. Butler: during the period of the Civil War
Vol. IV

Privately Issued

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