HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Camp near Harrison’s Landing, Va., July 7, 1862.
Maj. Gen. JOHN A. DIX, Commanding Fort Monroe.
GENERAL: The general commanding refers to your discretion the inclosed(sic) letter from Charles M. Hubbard and others, prisoners confined at Fort Wool, and directs that you cause all of those referred to in the letter who can be discharged with safety to the public service to be conveyed to some suitable point whence they may return to their homes. You will cause them to be provided with necessary subsistence during their return.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
THOMAS M. KEY,
Colonel and Aide-de-Camp.
FORT WOOL, July 4, 1862.
General MCCLELLAN:We propose to present to your consideration the following facts: There are now about 100 citizens of Virginia who have in no way been connected with the present war confined at this place. They were taken from their homes or arrested by bands of armed men, separated from their families, and are here imprisoned and not even informed of the charges if any there be on which they were arrested. They know not on what evidence they were arrested nor have they been confronted with their accusers. They are denied all intercourse with the world and are here confined with the same hard fare alike for the sick and well, good and bad huddled together without respect for their rights or person. When taken from their homes they were assured by the officers who arrested them that they would be detained but a few hours and then would be restored to their homes and families. They were then induced to leave home without a change of clothes and are now [covered with] vermin of this prison house, without a change of clothing. They are without funds with which they can procure the necessaries or comforts with which to promote cleanliness or preserve health. Their families are without any protection, surrounded by slaves and camp followers, from the unprincipled and violent hands of whom every species of wrong may be anticipated. From the rumors that reach us through the citizens who have been most recently sent here many of us believe that our slaves have left us; that our household furniture has been wantonly destroyed; that the provision designed for the use of our families during the present year has been forcibly taken from them, and that our growing crops have been wasted and destroyed, and that our homes except for the presence of loved wives and children are barren deserts.
Much more might with truth and propriety be said, but surely this is enough of the sad picture which has resulted from our effort to remain at our homes and protect those who are dependent on us, when we believed that our property and persons would not be violated by those who were seeking to restore a humane and liberal Government. Our friends advised us that it was best that we should remain at home. Our reason and judgment approved the advice and your proclamation inviting the citizens to remain at home and assuring them protection confirmed us in the propriety of that course. Alas! alas! How vain were our expectations! How we have been disappointed! Why are we here? We know that we are here and can well imagine the sufferings of all who are dear to us. How long shall this continue? We cannot believe that you have caused us to be imprisoned in violation of the assurances of your proclamation. We cannot realize that the Government of the United States thus refuses us our liberty, wastes our property and places our persons on this island of rock that we may by cruelty and oppression be taught to hate the Government under which we were born.As citizens of Virginia we ask that we may be at once released from this prison.
CHARLES M. HUBBARD, of James City,1
JOHN P. PIERCE, of New Kent County,2
A. B. TIMBERLAKE, of Hanover,3
SAMUEL EDWARDS, of King William,
Committee in behalf of the whole.
Messrs. LITTLETON, PIERCE and HUBBARD,
Prisoners of State, Fort Wool.
GENTLEMEN: I am directed by Major-General Dix to say in reply to your letter of this date that he will forward any proper communication from you to Richmond by the first flag of truce; that he holds you under orders from General McClellan and does not know for whom you are held as hostages. If you are in want of any articles needful for your personal comfort he will be glad to supply them. A personal interview he cannot at present conveniently grant.
By command of Major-General Dix:
Captain and Aide-de-Camp.
-The War of the Rebellion: A compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.-series ii.-volume iv.
Correspondence, Orders, etc., Relating to Prisoners of War and State from June 13, 1862, to November 30, 1862.-Union Correspondence, etc
1. Charles M. Hubbard was the State Senator representing the district that comprised the entire Peninsula.
2.The John P. Pierce was New Kent's Commonwealth's Attorney at the time.
3.Archibald Burnett Timberlake, owner of Rutland near Atlee Station. He had two sons in J.E.B.Stuarts cavalry and the house was sometimes used as a base for the cavalry. Timberlake's health declined after his release and he died in 1863, being buried, rather notoriously, in a cast iron coffin with a viewing plate.