5 March Letter from W. J. Willey to J. P. Benjamin

RICHMOND, VA., March 5, 1862.

Honorable J. P. BENJAMIN.

DEAR SIR: I was appointed by the Executive of Virginia a colonel of volunteers on the 9th of May last and ordered by General Lee to report to Colonel George A. Porterfield at Grafton, Va., for duty. I was assigned to the command of the Thirty-first Militia Regiment on the 28th of May. I was taken sick of typhoid fever at Philippi and in that condition I was captured on the 3rd of June last. I was then taken from Philippi to Grafton by the enemy and placed under medical treatment.

On the 10th of September I was turned over to the civil authority and sent to Wheeling to await the action of the grand jury of the Federal court then in session at that place. The jury found an indictment against me for treason, but the court declined trying me at that term and I remained in jail until the 27th of January, when I proposed to the civil and military authorities of the district that if they would release me from prison for sixty days and give me safe conduct through their lines I would give them my parole of honor that I would proceed to Richmond and procure the release of Colonel Woodruff, of the Second Kentucky Regiment, who was captured at the battle of Scary and was then confined as a prisoner of war in the Southern Confederacy, in exchange for myself, and in the event I failed I would return and deliver myself into the custody of the jailer of Ohio County within sixty days.

I then supposed that the Confederate Government would not hesitate to make the exchange agreed upon, as it has gone in the Honorable Charles James Faulkner’s case, and as it has since done in Colonel Pegram’s case. I have made the above statement of the facts in my case hoping they will enable you to make the exchange so much desired by me.



The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Series II, Vol. III. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1898.