Charles Upham Devereux.

Facts connected with the inquisition, recently held in Salem online

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MILL RUN F3-1544









'c/^^c^yJLb^ 16 OULAj^ajU



The publicity which certain gentlemen who
recently held an inquisition in this city for the
purpose of enquiring into the question of my
loyalty, have given of their proceedings, and
erroneous statements upon tbe subject matter
of their enquiries, which have been made,
have been so widely circulated, that I deem it
my duty, without obtruding myself upon the
public, to give to my friends a brief statement
of all the focts connected with this extraordi-
nary proceeding.

The subject of this investigation was a con-
versation between myself, a Mr. Hubbard,
John A. Innis and others, in the shop of Mr.
Burbeck, on the evening of January 17th last.

On February 8th, I received from His Ex-
cellency J. A. Andrew, the following note.

Executive Dev't and Mass. Headq'rs.
Within is a copy of letter received by me
and which I send to Capt. Devereux for his
perusal, and such reply as he may see fit to

JOHN A. ANDREW, Gov. &c.
Feb. 7, 1863.
To Capt. Ci^j^. U. Devereux, of 19th IVIass.
Vols. ^<-^

The copy of the letter enclosed was as fol-
lows :

Salem, Jan. 19, 1863.
Gov. Andrew :

Dear Sir : — I went into the store of Wm.
H. Burbeck, in Salem, on Saturday last, and
had my feelings outraged by the treasonable
language of a Mr. Devereux, who I under-
stand, holds a Captain's Commission. He is,
I find by enquiry, the son of Gen. Devereux,
of this city. His name is Charles. Some of
his statements were like the following : " He
would not fight for the good of the negro."
" He would discourage enhstments if the army
was to fight for negroes.'' These remarks re-
ferred to the Emancipation Proclamation. "He
hoped to God that eveiy man in the army of
the Potomac would come home, if they were
to fight for negroes." Ho taunted us with the
want of success of the Union armies, and
asked exultingly if that looked as if God
was on our side ? He said that the army
could not be filled after the present men's time
was out, because the people would not enlist,
and a draft, if ordered, could not be enforced
even in Massachusetts. There were about a
dozen men present, among whom were the pro-
prietor Mr. Burbeck, Mr. John A. Linis, &c.

You will excuse the liberty I take in ad-
dressing you, but I could not feel that such
language from an ofiicer ought to be indulged
in without rebuke.

I am yours with very great respect,
(Signed) J. GEO. HUBBARD.

To this I sent the following reply Febru-
ary ]2th.

1o His Excellency, Gov. John A. Andretc :

SiK : — I received on Tuesday morning a
copy of a letter purporting to have been ad-
dressed to your Excellency, by one J. George
Hubbard, of whom I have no further knowl-
edge than is conveyed in his signature.

Your Excellency does not need to be in-
formed by me that no man could reasonably be
expected to undertake a formal defense against
charges made in a manner utterly irresponsi-
ble. It is usually time enough to enter upon
such defense, when the charges are presented
upon proper evidence — in due form — before
a tribunal authorized to entertain them — and
substantiated to be, in themselves, matter of
legitimate enquiry. But, as your Excellency
has thought it best to call my attention to this
document, and to intimate by your own en-
dorsement thereon a desire to receive an ex-
planation, I very willingly embrace the oppor-
tunitj' afforded me ; and thank you for putting-
it in my power so to do.

I chanced to enter the shop of Mr. Wm. H.
Burbeck, a tailor, in this city, upon the occa-
sion alluded to by Mr. Hubbard, simply for
the purpose of ordering some clothing. I
found there several persons earnestly engaged
in discussion of the prominent political ques-
tions of the day — and especially of the points
indicated in the communication referred to, of
the individual who has thought proper to re-
port, after his own fashion, and colored by his
own prejudices, an interchange of personal
opinions, private in its character and place —
and moreover, not sought by me, but forced
Tipon me, by the intrusive self-assertion of oth-
ers. I was drawn into the conversation, by
an observation from one of the parties, " That
my old commander. Gen. McClellan, vas a
traitor" — an assertion that I never can allow
to pass uncontradicted. A rambling, and as
regard.^ some present, an excited conversation

I thought little of the matter at the time,,
and nothing of it since. Perhaps most of
those present, in the unguarded looseness of
casual conversation and the warmth of the
controversy, which I found raging on my en-
ti-ance, may have said what it were more dis-
creet not to say. As regards my own share in
it, I find upon enquiry, that there were pres-
ent honorable and respectable men, who knew
and will truthfully report what occurred, if
ever they should feel themselves called upon
to do so. I did not in any form of language
convey the impressions which Mr. Hubbard
has de;;lared. In reply to some statement that
the amiy was fighting for the negro and the
proclamation, I said it was enlisted for and was
fighting for the country and the constitution,
which I considered the first condition and not
the second, as some present supposed. I did'
not say that the army of the Potomac would
return, or want to ; and as to enlistments, I did
speak of the difficulty of getting men of which
I have experience and the gi eater difficulty
still if they persisted in narrowmg the contest
to the issue of slavery. If the charges should
be deemed worthy of investigation by any
authority competent and entitled to take cog-
nizance of them, I can very easily show the-
falsehood of the accusation.

And now I trust your Excellency, will
conceive I have said enough ; and I must re-
spectfully ask permission to rest upon my ac-
tions, my character and my conscience. When
my loyalty shall be impeached from any re-
sponsible quarter, and in any authoritative form,
if I need any other defense, than a service
commenced with the first levy for the defence
of the country and its institutions, and contin-
ued till wounds received at the hands of her
enemies, brought me to the very gates of death
— I shall trust to have a proper and sufficient

I desire to add that I hold myself bound, as-
a military officer, to implicit olv^^^.ico of every
order. I have never failed to c^Ascharge this
obligation, nor do I purpose to be unfaithful.

to it while there is any constitutional authority^ On tlio 14th day of April T Avas surpvised at
left in our unfortunate and imperilled country, receiving from Kobert S. Eantoul, Esq., of
Upon the momentous questions upon which the this city, a pergonal notification to appear at
fate of that country appears to hang, I have 'his ofliicc on the next day as he and Mr. Wil-
my private opinions — and your Excellency lard P. Phiihps proposed then and there to exam-
will hardly deny, that such is not only my ine the individuals present at the conversation
right but my duty as a citizen of a free country. 'alluded to.

How far it may be proper or expedient to
express an opinion upon the piobable results of
any course of policy, I must leave to your Ex-
cellency's own judgment. It is undoubtedly a '
delicate and important question upon which
men who claim to be far greater and wiser thanj
I, might err. It is my earnest desire — while
preserving my own right of private judgment i
and exercising discreetly the privileges and du-
ties of a- citizen, to respect scrupulously the
proprieties of my individual position, as an
officer. If my frankness, or my honest indig-
nation have carried me too far, I beg your
Excellency, to excuse it — and remain.
With the highest respect,
Your ob't serv't,
Capt. 19th Mass. Vols.

From the time I sent the above reply until
Tuesday, April 14th, I heard no more upon
the subject, and supposed not only that my
reply was satisfactory to the Governor, but
that Mr. Hubbard and his friends deemed they
had fulfilled their entire duty in making the
representations they had to His Excellency.

I had hoped during the winter that I should
sufficiently recover from the severe wounds I
received at the battle of Glendale, that I
should be enabled to rejoin my regiment and
sei ve again ray country in the field. But in
this hope I was disappointed, and admonished
by my physician that ray health would not per-
mit mt to ventare again upon the hardships of
active service, I April 6th requested my dis-
charge, jmd upon April 20th received infor-
mation that my request was granted.

I appeared at the appointed time iwo place
and enquired of the gentlemen their authuiivy
for, the mode of proceeding at, and the pur-
poses of, the proposed examination. Their
reply is substantially given in the communica-
tion I afterwards addressed to them on the sub-
ject. At my request, the hearing was post-
poned until Saturday, that I might havo op-
portunity to consider what iny duty was in the

On Saturday they were infuniied that I had
concluded to take no part in the proceedingSi
and that I would, to avoid any misconceptions,
give to them my reasons therefor, in writing,
which I accordingly did in a communication of
which the following is a copy.

Salem, April 16th, 1863.

3fessrs. W. P. PMUipsandR. S. Bontoul-—

Gents — I was notified on Tuesday last, by
Mr. Rantoul, that you proposed to investigate
certain charges against n'e, contained in a let-
ter written by one Mr. Hubbard, ©f Salem to
Gov. Andrew, and dated Jaji. 10th. Copies
of that letter together with the communication
of Gov. Andrew to me, and my re])ly to His
Excellency dated Feb. 12th, are in your pos-

The proposed proceeding, seeming to me
peculiar and unusual, I deemed it ray duty to
ascertain the precise nature and extent of your
authority, the form in which the charges now
stand, and the method and purpose of the pro-
posed examination. Upon enquiry before you
on Wednesday, I learned that yoa had no for-

mal authority, except the request of His Ex-
eelloncy ; that there were no charges in form,
tbat I was to meet, except as set forth in the
letter of Mr. Hubbard ; that you proposed to
examine the parties and such persons as were
present, and receive their statements, unsup-
ported by oath or affirmation. You also stated
that you did not consider that you had any
authority or power to investigate the charges,
except in an informal manner, and from the
etatoments thus made, you were to determine,
either that the charges were not sustained, or
that there was a conflict of statements, and the
case was one in your judgment for a formal

You will perceive by reference to tlie letters,
above replied to, tliat my attention was called
to this subject liy his Excellency in a kind and
proper manner, and I replied to it in the
same spiiit. I presumed, from the long time
that has clapsxHl since that reply, that it was
satisfactory to his Excellency, and I did not
suppose, after protesting to his Excellency
against being called to answer such vague and
informal accusations, that I should again be
asked CO recognize still further infornial pro-
ceedings. Proceedings which have the form
of a trial to a certain extent, in which you have,
not only no legal authority, but in the progress
of whicli you are unable to afford me the securi-
ties and protection, which sworn charges and
sworn testimony only can give to a person

The charges made are in sultstancc, that I
am disloyal to the government of my country,
the most heinous chai-gcs that can be made
against me, wearing its uniform and sworn to
support its authority.

I hav(! carefully con.'^idered the propriety of
these proceedings, and the more caiefully from
the respectability of the position of the gentle-
men who are to conduct them, and my duty in
relation to them. And I have concluded tliat
my duty to myself and to the country, my duty
to my brother officers and soldiers in the army.

demand that I should decline to participate in
any such proceedings. Protesting, that no
man in this connnunity is more loyal than I
am, or has given more significant pledges of
his allegiance to the government, I beg leave
to call your attention to the fact, that the array
of the United States is governed by well known
rules and regulations, which have the force of
law upon all who are subject to them. To
those rules ana regulations and to a court that
can readily be convened under them I am as
an officer of that army amenable. Neither the
Governor of this Conmionwealth nor private
persons have any right to organize investi-
gations into the conduct or eonversation ^of
officers of that army. To do so, will produce
fearful elements of discord and danger, will
undermine and subvert the authority of the
United States and place its army under private
and irresponsible surveillance. I cannot rec-
ognize such a right by participating in these pro-
ceedings. I have already stated to Gov.
Andrew the true version of the conversation in
([uestion. If there are any charges to be pr-"
ferred against me upon that or any other matter,
I shall at all times be ready to meet them,
when called upon by the Government which I
serve, but I cannot submit myself to scrutiny
and examination by those who have no jui'is-
diction over mc or my conduct.

There are other reasons of a more private
and local character, of which I might speak,
but I forljear to do so, as the reasons already
given are suff.cient to control my action.

\"our obedient servant,


The papers on ^Monday evening contained
information that I had received au"^ honorable
discharge from the service on my application
as above stated, and I have been informed that
in consequence of it the examination of wit-

nesses which was commenced on Monday was
not afterwards resumed.

I have since learned, what was to me before
mysterious, the reason why this matter after
having slept for nearly two months was revived
at this time and these informal proceedings
initiated. I have been informed that the sub-
ject was introduced into the meetings of the

cause it to be changed through the Ballot Box,
the " liberties of the pi'uple " aie l)ut a mere

Whilst I deem it the right and duty of every
citizen to express his opinions full}', yet a prop-
er regard for the authorities, the oiVinions of
others, and the self-respect of the individual,
should influence him to express those opinions

" Salem Union League", an organization re- temperately and in a proper spirit ; and if du

cently established in this city, of which R. S
Rantoul, Esq., is Secretary and Mr. W. P.
Phillips a prominent member, and it was there
discussed, and that individuals who were present
at the conversation and are members of the
League gave their version of the conversation
and made severe comments upon the subject of
my loyalty. That E. S. Rantoul, Esq., prior
to his appointment had stated that he had ex-
amined into the facts of the conversation and
that he was satisfied of the truth of the charges
against me for disloyalty. I have been credi-
bly informed since the proceedings were stopped
that there were three individuals appointed on
the commission of investigation. Who the
third man is I am unable to learn ; but rumor
states that it is Rev. Dr. Briggs, President of
the League.

Whether this proceeding was induced by the
3alem Union League, and whether its object was
I patriotic or a partizan one, I leave my friends
judge upon these statements.

I do not desire to disguise the fact that I

[ifier in political opinions with John A. Innis,

Ir. Hubbard, and other members of the Union

jcague, as I understand their sentiments. I be-

eve the policy of the proclamation of Emanci-

ation does not tend to a restoration of the

ifnifp. I believe I have a right to entertain

ly own opinion, upon this subject, and that as

1 America a citizen I have a right, whether in

- out ot /be arc*, to express these opinions.

or if th e i eopl/have not a right to express

eir opinuons i^^on the policy of an administra-

in with a Vi'e^ to induce a voluntary change,

in the end that the people themselves may

ing the heat of discussion which took place, I
yielded in my language to the excitement of
the occasion, I sincerely regret it.

I volunteered for the war in defence o?" tho
Constitution and tlie Union. T knew and de-
sired no other object. No other motive could
have induced me to enlist I served in the
field until June 30th, 18(12, when I was disa-
bled by severe wounds. ^^'luist at home, 1
have often heard expressions of contempt for
the Constitution which I liave ever been taughi
to reverence and regard as the paliailium o'i
our liberties, and words of open hostility to the
Union, the restoration of which I regard as in'
dispensable to our future unity and prosperity
as a people. And if when I heard the indi-
viduals I met on the occasion referred to,
place other considerations above the Constitu-
tion and the Union, — and if when I heard the
man whom I regard the noblest and most pat-
riotic officer of the army, under whom it had
been my pride to serve, denounced as a traitor,
I passed the limits of propriety in the language
I used, I trust my friends will take into con-
sideration the circumstances in which I was
placed, in palliation of my indiscretjen.

Permit me to say in conclusion, that if Charles
Sumner, the leader of the party of the Salem
Union League, can publicly denounce the
words the Constitution as it is, and the
Union as it was, as " flash language," and his
organ, the Commonwealth, desire that the
tongue be withered that prays for a restoration
of that Union — if Senators and Representa-
tives of the Congress of the United States can
openly declare that they will never consent


to a restoration of that Union, and thanlc
God that ovir armies were defeated, as their
success would have restored that Union — if
the Governor of this Commonwealth when
called upon in a moment of immediate peril
for a few Regiments, can respond, that, un-
less the policy under which I and others vol-
unteered for the war, be changed, that the
draft will )^c heavy upon the patriotism of our
people, — if Messrs. Rantoul and Phillips who
were to sit in judgment on my loyalty, can,
since the date of the conversation alluded to,
publish over their own signatures their delib-
erate convictions that the Constitution of the
United States is an " intolerable bukden of
A iiereditahy compact witu iniquity " and
" a system of roLiTiCAL, social and moral

despotism the most complete in HISTORY."

If all these things and more can be deliber-

ately said by such men without deserving even
rebuke, I would ask if I might not, under the
provocations of such a discussion, have used
strong language in regard to the effects of the
policy of Emancipation, without disloyalty.

I know that I am a loyal man. I know I
love my country, that I reverence its Constitu-
tion, and that I am now as I have heretofore
shown myself, willing to lay down my life for
its preservation, fnd if these gentlemen who
question my loyalty, and they are apparently
able-bodied, will show their devotion to their
country by similar acts, I think they will be in
a better position to hold inquisitions upon the
loyalty of )nen in the service than they are now
merely as exponents of a most bitter and pro-
scriptive partizan league.


Salem, May 9, 1863.


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Online LibraryCharles Upham DevereuxFacts connected with the inquisition, recently held in Salem → online text (page 1 of 1)