Winder's letter to Walthall
|Winder's letter to Walthall
|This is a letter sent from professor R. B. Winder, a cellmate of American Civil War war criminal Henry Wirz, to CSA Major W. T. Walthall - in response to Congress' inquiries about Wirz's guilt.|
BALTIMORE, November 16, 1875.
Major W. T. WALTHALL:
My Dear Sir - Your letter of the 25th of last month was duly received, and except from sickness should have been replied to long ago. I take pleasure in giving you the facts which you request, but they have already been published several times in the different papers of the country.
A night or two before Wirz's execution, early in the evening, I saw several male individuals (looking like gentlemen) pass into Wirz's cell. I was naturally on the "qui vive" to know the meaning of this unusual visitation, and was hoping and expecting, too, that it might be a reprieve - for even at that time I was not prepared to believe that so foul a judicial murder would be perpetrated - so I stood at my door and directly saw these men pass out again. I think, indeed I am quite certain, there were three of them. Wirz came to hi door, which was immediately opposite to mine, and I gave him a look of inquiry which he at once understood. He said: "these men have just offered me my liberty if I will testify against Mr. Davis and criminate him with the charges against the Andersonville prison; I told them that I could not do this, as I neither knew Mr. Davis personally officially, or socially, but that if they expected with the offer of my miserable life to purchase me to treason and treachery to the South, they had undervalue me."
I asked him if he knew who the parties were. He said "no," and that they had refused to tell him who they were - but assured him that they had full power to do whatever they might promise. This is all, and as you perceive, I did not hear the conversation, but merely report what Wirz said to me - but he also made the same statement to his counsel, Mr. Schade, of Washington city, and he has also, under his own signature, published these facts.
You will better understand the whole matter from the accompanying diagram of our respective jails. The doors opened immediately opposite, and it was such not weather that they allowed the doors to be open - the corridor being always heavily guarded by sentinels, a sentinel was always posted directly between these openings - but Wirz and myself were often allowed to converse.
Very truly yours,
R. B. WINDER.