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1865 September 16: More on the Henry Wirz Trial, Various Post-War Issues, Indian Negotiations

September 16, 2015

The following summary of the week’s news comes from the September 16, 1865, issue of The Polk County Press.

Telegraphic Summary.

Alexander Dudley, president of the New York River railroad, has had his pardon restored to him.

It is believed that a proclamation will soon be issued by the President, restoring the writ of habeas corpus in the loyal states.

All sentences of death in cases of soldiers convicted of desertion, have been commuted by the President to imprisonment for a term of years.  [Andrew Johnson]

 No prominent rebel generals have as yet applied for permission to leave the country, and it is asserted that General Lee has no thought of making such application.  [Robert E. Lee]

The commission to negotiate treaties of peace with the Sioux and Cheyennes will hold a council with those tribes at Fort Rice, on the 15th proximo.  The commission consists of Governor Edmonds [sic],¹ of Dakotah ;  Edward B. Taylor, superintendent of Indian affairs for the northern superintendency ;  Generals Curtis and Sibley ;  Henry H. Reed, of Iowa ;  and Owen Guernsey of Wisconsin.  [Samuel R. Curtis, Henry Hastings Sibley]

Generals John C. Robinson, John F. Miller, and Joseph R. Hawley have been stricken from the list of general officers, mustered out by the recent order from the war department.²

The report that the records of the Andersonville prison had been stolen had its origin in the following circumstances ;  they were originally sold for $300 to the war department by one Dorrance [sic: Dorence] Atwater, who, while a prisoner at Andersonville, managed to abstract them from the rebel officials.  He was afterward detailed to accompany Captain Moore’s party to Andersonville, and during his absence, secretly made a copy of the original, with the presumable intention of repeating their sale in another quarter.  He is now undergoing court-martial for the offense.  Captain Moore has the original copy still in his possession.  [for more on this, see footnote 1 in the September 2, 1865, post on Moore’s expedition]

Major General Wilson was recently attacked by four highwaymen, near Macon.  He captured one, and put the others to flight.  [James H. Wilson]

Judge Advocate Chipman³ has classified the witnesses for the prosecution in the Wirz case, so as to shorten the time of the trial by two or three weeks.  [Henry Wirz]

Several of the hitherto hostile Indian tribes, on the plains, are beginning to manifest a desire for peace.  The government is anxious to come to an arrangement with them, and, if one be made, will hold time rigidly to their agreements.  If the attempts at pacification shall fail, military movement against the savages will be prosecuted with relentless vigor.

The testimony in the trial of Wirz, Thursday, was of a character similar to that on previous days.  The prisoner is looking very badly, and the opinion is expressed by some that his life will not last beyond another month.

Henry S. Foote, the rebel congressman, has been allowed to return to his home, in Nashville, on condition that he shall not interfere in politics.

President Johnson refuses to release Mallory [Stephen R. Mallory], ex-secretary of the rebel navy, but allows him to have communication with his family.

All the white infantry troops in the department of the Tennessee have been ordered mustered out.

President Johnson, in his letter, sustaining the Governor of Mississippi [William L. Sharkey], in his call for the organization of the State militia, gives, as his main reason therfor [sic], the statement that he is desirous to induce the people to come forward in defense of the State and Federal Governments ;  and declares that, in case of any insurrectionary movement by such organization, national troops will be on had [sic: hand] to suppress it immediately.

During the past four years of the rebellion, Indiana furnished 193,337 troops, and Wisconsin 96,000.  In the latter State, over $10,000,000 was raised for bounties to soldiers.

1.  Newton Edmunds (1819-1908) was part of the New York Edmunds family that was involved with politics, associating with the Free Soilers before affiliating with the Republican Party. Newton Edmunds’ brother, C. E. Edmunds, was Commissioner of the United States Land Office. Newton Edmunds was appointed as chief clerk in the surveyor-general’s office, resulting in Edmunds’ arrival in Dakota Territory in 1861. In August of 1862, Edmunds was elected as eighth corporal of Company A of the Dakota Militia, following the Santee uprising. On October 17, 1863, Edmunds was appointed governor of Dakota Territory by President Abraham Lincoln. Edmunds received strong support from former Governor William Jayne. Edmunds believed that the Indian wars in the territory impeded white settlement by creating a negative public perception of Dakota Territory. In October 1865, Edmunds and the commission mentioned here began to negotiate with Indian tribes located along the Missouri River. The commission eventually reached treaty agreements with thirteen tribes.

  • John Cleveland Robinson (1817-1897) Robinson remained in the army following the cessation of hostilities and was assigned command of the Freedmen’s Bureau in Federally occupied North Carolina. On April 10, 1866, President Andrew Johnson nominated Robinson for appointment to the brevet grade of brigadier general in the regular army, to rank from March 13, 1865, and the U.S. Senate confirmed the nomination on May 4, 1866. In July 1866, he was promoted to full colonel in the regular army. On July 17, 1866, President Andrew Johnson nominated Robinson for appointment to the brevet grade of major general in the regular army, to rank from March 13, 1865. Robinson was mustered out of the Volunteer army on September 1, 1866. In 1867, Robinson was assigned to command of the Military Department of the South. The following year, he was again reassigned, this time to lead the Department of the Lakes. Robinson retired from the U.S. Army on May 6, 1869, receiving a commission to the full grade of major general in the regular army on the date of his retirement
  • John Franklin Miller (1831-1886) Miller was brevetted as a major general on March 13, 1865. He declined a commission as a colonel in the Regular Army and resigned from the Volunteers on September 29, 1865. He later served as a U.S. senator from California (1881-1886).
  • Joseph Roswell Hawley (1826-1905) was brevetted as a major general in September 1865, and mustered out of the army on January 15, 1866. He later served as a U.S. senator from Connecticut (1881-1905).

3.  Norton Parker Chipman (1834-1924) enlisted in the 2nd Iowa Infantry and fought courageously in the Battle of Fort Donelson, where he was wounded and reported dead. Chipman survived and was promoted to colonel in 1862. Chipman was later appointed as a member of General Henry W. Halleck’s and then Samuel R. Curtis’s staff. He later became a member of the Judge Advocate General’s staff. Chipman successfully prosecuted Captain Henry Wirz, the commander of the Confederacy’s infamous Andersonville prison camp. Chipman published his recollections of the famous Andersonville Trial in his 1911 book, The Tragedy of Andersonville Prison: The Trial of Captain Henry Wirz [online edition available to UWRF students and staff; check the catalog]. After the War he served in the U.S. House of Representatives (1871-75) from the District of Columbia.

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