4 Nov 1863

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4 Nov 1863 - : lahuraanity of (be «£h!ralry,» ASf OLD MAN...
: lahuraanity of (be «£h!ralry,» ASf OLD MAN STARVED TO DEATH FOR tOYALTV TO HIS GOVERNMENT. "Harvey Birch," who recently escaped from Richmond, relates the following : William Fitzgerald, of .Kelson Counfy, Va., one of my fellow prisoners in Castle Thunder, was a gentleman of education and rare intelligence, and in his youth was a :lass-mate in the University with John Letcher, the present Governor of Virginia, ,n whose father's house he then boarded. Ho had devoted most of the days of his nanhood to teaching in public schools in Virginia, Mississippi and Louisiana, and md .become as familiar with Southern society and the peculiarities and characteristics of all classes, and was as well informed in rcgaid to-the machinery and schemes of Southern politicians, as any man I encountered in the South. In appearance he was a/ac simile of Mr. Lincoln. In stature, circumference, phisiognomy, carriage and address, he was so like Mr. Lincoln that lis first entrance into our room caused an ndcscribable sensation in those who had seen the former. 1'or an instant we feared hat the rebel threats to kidnap our President had been executed, and great was our relief at hearing the truth. We were not ong in dubbing the new comer "Father Abraham," a title he wore most becomingly until death deprived us of his society. A concise i.istory of Mr. Fitzgerald's case will show the malignant and fiendish spirit jy which the leading rebels are animated,and he cruelties to which Union citizens of .the South are subjected. Mr. F. was arrested on suspicion of disloyalty to the Confederacy! To disloyal act was alleged against him ; but ie failed to rave and declare himself a rebel, and one of his slaveholdiug neighbors •reckoned'' that he sympathized with the ederals, and caused his arrest. After being in the castle a few days he addressed a uote to Gov. Letcher, the friend and intimate of his adolescence and early manhood, informing him of his situation,— \ day or two afterwards he was honored vitli a visit from his excellency, promising o call on Gen..Winder "and make it all right." The next day came and went, and a Week rolled away; still Fitzgerald remained in prison. Thinking he had been neglected by Gen. Winder, he addressed his old friend, the governor, another letter, to which he promptly received the following rutal and characteristic reply: EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT, Richmond, June 25,18C3. Mr. Wm. Fitzgerald: Sir—I was well aware before the receipt of your letter esterday that you were still in prison, and can assure you that it shall be no fault of mine if you do not remain so during your natural life. When I promised to intercede with the military authorities on your be- mlf, I believed your assurance that the uspicionaagainst you were withontfounda- jon. But, on calling on Gen. Winder, I ound that it had been reported to him by a •entleman of undoubted loyalty and veraei- y that you have been for jears a villifiar if Southern institutions. In 1856 you voted 'or the abolitionist, Fremont, for President. Jver since the war you have maintained a ullen silence in regard to its merits. Your on, who, in common with other young men, was called to the defence of his country, las escaped to the enemy—probably by •our advice. This is evidence enough to atisfy me that you aro a traitor to four country, and I regret that-it is not ufficient to justify me in demanding you rom the military authorities to be executed or your treason. Yours, JOHN LKTCUER. The scanty rations allowed prisoners in Castle Thunder were insufficient to nourish o large and hearty41'man as Fitzgerald. Ie soon became a living skeleton, and ibout the middle of July died from debili- y—or, to speak plainly, was murdered by tarvation MISS FtTZOKUAD AND MB. FITZGERALD'S DEAiH. Out of his death arose one cf the most ouching incidents I have ever witnesseed. lis daughter, a young lady of remarkable >eauty and intelligence, provided herself with several letters and affidavits from her neighbors, who certified that they were in- imately acquainted with her father, and never knw him to utter a disloyal sentiment or commit a disloyal act, and repaired .o Richmond, without her father's ktipw- edge, to lay them before the rebel President and solicit her parent's release. Jeff. )avis coldly refused to interfere in ihe matter, when the young lady intent upon her purpose, sought an interview with Jlrs Davis, and implored her intercession with the President in Mr. Fitzgerald's be- lalf. Her efforts proved sucsessful, and next day, with an order in her pocket for her father's discharge, she hastened to Castle Thunder to give him an agreeable surprise. On presenting the order to the commandant she learned that her father had died and had been bnried,two days before. The scene which followed can be so readi- imagined that I will not attempt to describe it. . But before leaving the subject I would add, as an example of whai an energetic young lady can accomplish, that Miss Fitzgerald, after having sufficiently .recovered from the shock occasioned by her father's death, returned to Jeff. Davis, and next morning again visited the Castle with an order for the release of her uncle, her father's trothar, who had also been for a considerable time a prisoner. REBEL OFFICIAL MALIOXITT. As a further illustration of the malignant spirit of the rebel offic'als, I will add that when Fitzgerald was removed to the hospital, his brother, who had also been imprisoned on suspicion, asked leave to accompany him as nurse, which was refused. Several times, during his sickness his brother begged permission to visit him, but this small favor was denied. When Fitzgerald died the brother sought me, as I waa on good terms with Capt. Alexander, the commandant, to request that he be allowed to see the deceased. I made the application; but the humane captain refused it, and added that "the damned old traitors would soon meet in hell, where they can see enough ol each other."

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  1. Semi-Weekly Wisconsin,
  2. 04 Nov 1863, Wed,
  3. Page 3

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  • 4 Nov 1863

    dvgagel – 16 Sep 2013

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