Novr 15th 1864
Hon E.M. Stanton
Secretary of War
George Cameron was captured as a prisoner of war at Petersburg, in arms with the forces of the Confederates. He now asserts that he is a neutral British subject, and that he was forced into the rebel service against his will. His assertion is not accompanied by any proofs.
If Mr. Cameron was in fact a neutral British subject, and denizen of the Confederate States, at the commencement of our civil war, he had a right to withdraw from the belligerent territory, within a reasonable time, and would have preserved by such withdrawal his claim to be regarded as a neutral alien by the United States. Having voluntarily remained a denizen of the Confederate States, and having thereby subjected himself to the control of rebels in arms claiming a de facto right to enforce their municipal law, he has lost his right to be treated by the United States as a subject of her Majesty, not only by such voluntary continuance of residence, but by engaging in active hostilities: which he might have avoided by leaving the country in due season.
Being thus captured as a prisoner of war, he may be lawfully held or exchanged as such: but as it appears from his own statement that he was forced into the rebel army against his will and against is written protest, and that he is willing to leave the United States to go to Scotland, not to return to any of the Confederate States, or in any wise to aid or abet the rebellion in the United States or elsewhere; and as he proposes to give security accordingly, -- I recommend that Mr. Cameron be discharged, providing that he shall first make it appear upon satisfactory evidence that he is bona fide, a British subject, and was compelled to take up arms on behalf of the rebels against his will and under protest; and further that he shall give his sworn parole not to aid or abet the rebellion in the United States of elsewhere, directly or indirectly, or any person or persons sympathizing therewith; and to proceed with reasonable dispatch to Scotland, and not to return to any state in rebellion during the present war; and give bond in the sum of 15,000.$, with two sureties, approved by the Attorney of the United States in the Southern District of New York, for the faithful performance of his parole.
Very respectfully yours
Your obedient Servant
Solicitor of the War Department
This is just part of the 53 pages of documents in the file of George Cameron and John Glenn, both of whom were captured before Petersburg on June 8, 1864. Both claimed British citizenship, and to have been unwillingly forced into Confederate service. They had written to Lord Lyon, the British Minister in Washington, and he contacted the War department in their behalf, asking for an investigation. Cameron was eventually able to come up with documents proving that he had been recognized in 1862 as a neutral alien by the Confederate government; and also that he had protested his forced recruitment in May 1864. Lord Lyon arranged the required Bond, and Cameron was duly released from Elmira, and sent home to Scotland.
The full case file is at fold3, “Civil War Subversion Investigations” (Turner Files, Case #3440), and contains a great deal of detail regarding the enforced recruitment, service, capture and proceedings regarding the two men. They had become separated after capture and their cases proceeded separately, but John Glenn would also be released.
The Turner files consist to a very large degree of protests of neutrality by men who had been arrested as deserters, or, like Cameron and Glenn, captured as PoWs. They make interesting reading.
(note: @Pat Young might find some of these useful, as most of the men were immigrants, and some have complicated stories to tell)