Reprinted in Frank Moore, ed., The Rebellion Record: A Diary of American Events, with Documents, Narratives, Illustrative Incidents, Poetry, Etc. (New York: G.P.Putnam, 1861), III: 351.
The following text is presented here in complete form, as it originally appeared in print. Spelling and typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.
C.S.A. War Department,
Richmond, Nov. 9, 1861.
Sir: You are hereby instructed to choose, by lot, from among the prisoners of war of highest rank, one who is to be confined in a cell appropriated to convicted felons, and who is to be treated in all respects as if such convict, and to be held for execution in the same manner as may be adopted by the enemy for the execution of the prisoner of war Smith, recently condemned to death in Philadelphia.
You will also select thirteen other prisoners of war, the highest in rank of those captured by our forces, to be confined in the cells reserved for prisoners accused of infamous crimes, and will treat them as such so long as the enemy shall continue so to treat the like number of prisoners of war captured by them at sea, and now held for trial in New York as pirates.
As these measures are intended to repress the infamous attempt now made by the enemy to commit judicial murder on prisoners of war, you will execute them strictly, as the mode best calculated to prevent the commission of so heinous a crime.
Your obedient servant,
J. P. Benjamin,
Acting Secretary of War.
To Brig.-Gen. John H. Winder,
U.S. Navy recaptures the Boston schooner "Enchantress" taken as a Confederate prize two weeks before
In Philadelphia, the piracy trial of privateer William Smith results in guilty verdict and a death sentence
In Richmond, Confederates select prisoners for trial in retaliation for Northern convictions of privateers