President Lincoln orders the release of a prisoner who was sentenced to death
4 x 6 5/8, imprint.
Adjutant General's Office,
Washington, August 1, 1861
The sentence of death in the case of John W. Sailor, tried on the charge of murder before a Military Commission, which convened at Winchester, Virginia, February 6, 1863, pursuant to Special Orders, No. 17, dated Headquarters, Milroy's Division, Winchester, Virginia, February 5, 1863, is inoperative, on account of informality in the proceedings of the Commission. It does not appear from the record that the order convening the Commission was read to the prisoner, or in his hearing; that he had an opportunity to object to any member of the Commission; that the charge against him was in writing; or that he had, in advance of the examination of the witnesses, any knowledge of the offence for which he was to be tried; nor is it shown that the prisoner was allowed to plead to the charge against him as recited in the order convening the Commission.
In a proceeding involving life, such irregularities are wholly inexcusable, and make the execution of the death sentence legally impossible. The President directs that the prisoner, John W. Sailor, be released from arrest.
BY ORDER OF THE SECRETARY OF WAR:
Assistant Adjutant General
Light age toning and wear.