Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 36.djvu/24

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Southern Historical Society Papers.

Memphis, Sept. 2, 1875.

General R. H. Chilton:

My Dear Sir,—Accept my thanks for your kind letter of the 30th ult. I did not know of the document to which you refer of the attempt to make Colonel Chandler implicate me in neglecting the sufferings of prisoners. I had heard of offers made to Wirz the night before his execution, to give him a pardon if he would incriminate me. I would be glad to have such a statement as you offer to make, and if Colonel Chandler would state the facts of his examination by the Wirz Court, as well as any others bearing on the question, I would be obliged not only for my own sake, but also for others, who, being innocent, have nevertheless suffered from the charge of cruelty to prisoners.

That was the excuse for torturing me when in prison, and that is the burden of anonymous letters yet occasionally sent to me. Though it is true that the United States authorities are, as you say, to blame for any suffering by prisoners, in that they alone prevented prompt release under the cartel, they have boldly charged us with the death of everyone who died in prison, and our people have been dumb as sheep brought to the shearing.

The fact is, as a general proposition, we showed humanity, and though we could not provide for the prisoners as well as we would have wished to do, we did the best we could. They, not embarrassed as we were, treated prisoners with brutality, and as shown by Secretary Stanton's report, the percentage of deaths in Northern prisons was greater than in ours.

Please give my special regard to Mrs. Chilton. I am sorry to learn that you have been visited by that tormentor, neuralgia, and hope before this reaches you that you may have been relieved. As ever, truly your friend.

Jefferson Davis.

Memphis, Tenn., Dec. 9, 1875.

General R. H. Chilton:

My Dear Sir,—Accept my thanks for your kind letter of the 14th ult. and for your valuable defense against the wholesale slander of the writer for the "Radical" paper of St. Louis,