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Orders from Henry Wager Halleck to William Handy Ludlow, July 15, 1863

Henry Wager Halleck, detail
In early July 1863, two Union officer prisoners, Captain Henry Sawyer of the First New Jersey Cavalry and Captain John Flinn of the 51st Indiana Infantry, had been selected by lot for hanging as retribution for the mid-May 1863 executions of two Confederate officers convicted of spying in Kentucky. Sawyer, who had been wounded and captured at Brandy Station, reacted sensibly and immediately wrote a letter to his wife in Cape May, New Jersey, knowing that she and his friends would inform the War Department in Washington of the developments. This resulted in Mrs. Sawyer visiting President Lincoln, who directed the head of the U.S. Army to order Colonel William Ludlow, the agent for Confederate prisoners of war, immediately to select two Confederate officers in Union hands, one of them W.H.F. Lee, son of the Confederate commander, and communicate to Confederate authorities that these two would suffer immediate hanging should Sawyer and Flinn be put to death. Neither threat was carried out. (By John Osborne)


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