Page:Lettres d'un innocent; the letters of Captain Dreyfus to his wife ; (IA lettresduninnoce00drey).pdf/20

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Secret Intelligence Department. Its importance as revealing the presence of a traitor who had access to the secrets of the War Office was at once recognized. General Mercier, then Minister of War, placed the investigation in the hands of Commandant du Paty de Clam. Owing to the similarity between the handwriting in the bordereau and that of Dreyfus, this officer was suspected of being its author. He was arrested and taken to the military prison of Cherche Midi. In the mean time, du Paty de Clam exhausted every resource to find confirmatory evidence. In this he signally failed. Nevertheless the indictment was drawn up.

Commandant Forzinetti was in charge of Cherche Midi. His first impression of the prisoner as deposed before the Cour de Cassation was as follows:

"I went to Captain Dreyfus. He was terribly excited. I had before me a man bereft of reason, with bloodshot eyes. He had upset everything in his room. I succeeded, after some trouble, in quieting him. I had an intuition that this officer was innocent. He begged me to allow him writing materials, so that he might ask the Minister of War to be heard by him or by one of the general officers of the Ministry. He described to me the details of his arrest, which were neither dignified nor soldierly."

On October 24 Mercier asked Forzinetti what he thought of the prisoner's guilt. This was the reply: "They are evidently on a false scent. This officer is not guilty."

Nearly every day du Paty de Clam visited Dreyfus and tried in every way to force a confession from him.[1]

This was the position of Minister of War Mercier:

  1. See Appendix B.