President Lincoln Declines to Overrule Military Executions of Bounty Jumpers

August 27, 1863

President Lincoln writes to General George C. Meade: “Walter, Rainese, Faline, Lae, & Kuhne appeal to me for mercy, without giving any ground for it whatever.  I understand these are very flagrant cases, and that you deem their punishment, as being indispensable to the service.  If I am no mistaken in this, please let them know at once that their appeal is denied.”

General Meade responded: “Walter, Rionese, Faline, and Kuhn were to have been executed yesterday.  Their execution was postponed by my order till Saturday the 29th that time might be given to procure the services of a Roman Catholic Priest to assist them in preparing for death.  They are substitute conscripts who enlisted for the purpose of deserting after receiving the bounty, and being the first of this class whose cases came before me.  I believed that humanity the safety of this Army, and the most vital interest of the Country, required their prompt execution as an example…In view of these circumstances I shall therefore inform them their appeal to you is denied.”  The soldiers were executed August 29, 1863.

President Lincoln writes Governor Horatio Seymour regarding the draft in New York City: “Yours of the 21st. with exhibits, was received on the 24th.  In the midst of pressing duties, I have been unable to answer sooner.  In the mean time the Provost-Marshal General has had access to yours, and has addressed a communication in relation [to] it, to the Secretary of War, a copy of which communication, I herewith inclose to you.

Independently of this, I addressed a letter, on the same subject, to the Secretary of War, a copy of which I also inclose to you.  The Secretary has sent my letter to the Provost-Marshal-General, with direction that he adopt and follow the course therein pointed out.  It will, of course, over-rule any conflicting view of the Provost Marshal-General, if there be such.

President Lincoln added: “I do not mean to say if the Provost-Marshall General can find it practicable to give credits by sub-districts, I over-rule him in that.  On the contrary I shall be glad of it; but I will not take the risk of over-burthening him, by ordering him to do it.”

President Lincoln transmits his address to James C. Conkling to be read at Springfield Union rally: My dear Conkling Aug. 27 1863.  I can not leave here now. Herewith is a letter instead. You are one of the best public readers. I have but one suggestion. Read it very slowly. And now God bless you, and all good Union-men.”

President Lincoln writes General John M. Schofield regarding affairs in his Missouri-Kansas district: “I have just received the despatch which follows, from two very influential citizens of Kansas, whose names I omit. The severe blow they have received, naturally enough makes them intemperate, even without there being any just cause for blame. Please do your utmost to give them future security, and to punish their invaders.” President Lincoln writes Kansas Congressman Abel C. Wilder and Senator James H. Lane: “Notice of your demand for the removal of Gen. Schofield, is hereby acknowledged.”

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Published in: on August 27, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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