June 25 1862 - Hagerstown Mail editor traitor & spy.
A Startling Development—an Infamous Letter.
—Some fourteen months ago, when Virginia seceded, the rebel Gen. Harper with four or five thousand troops seized Harper’s Ferry and held it. Soon afterwards the rebel mob in Baltimore attempted to force Maryland out of the Union, which produced intense alarm find excitement throughout the State. While this state of feeling prevailed, we had in our own town one man (how many more we cannot tell) in the person of Daniel Dechert, editor and proprietor of the late Mail, who sent what was treasonable information to a commander of the enemy, while that enemy was lying upon the Southern borders of our county, and momentarily threatening to introduce into our midst the devastations and horrors of a rebel war. Without further prelude, we introduce to the reader this subjoined copy of a letter recently found at the residence of a Dr. Funsten some five miles beyond Winchester, who was an aid to Gen. Harper at the time Harper was the Commandant at the Ferry; and we may also add that the original has been examined by a gentlemen of this town, and the handwriting fully identified as that of Dechert:—
Circulation Seventeen Hundred Copies Weekly.
DANIEL DECHERT, Proprietor.
Office of the Hagerstown Mail,
[The above lines were printed.]
Hagerstown, April 31, 1861.
Dr. FUNSTON :—
Dear Sir:—I HAVE DROPPED GEN. HARPER A MAP OF OUR COUNTY. THE MAP OF FRANKLIN COUNTY I WILL FORWARD HIM, OR ALL THE INFORMATION HE MAY DESIRE THERETO IN A DAY OR TWO.
“ The Union Shriekers” or Black Republicans here are gaining on the fears of the people. Many good Southern Rights men are now wavering, owing to these excited apprehensions, and our cause is daily losing strength. I still hope the lower portion of the State will remain firm, and in the end we will escape from the chains that bind us to Black Republicanism. Surely Maryland was “bound hand and foot.”
You will do me a great kindness and one that I will not be likely to forget soon, if you interest yourself with Gen. Harper in procuring me a good weapon of defence. Only yesterday I was threatened with a mob, who said they would compel me to hang out the “ Stars and Stripes.”
Very truly yours,
I certify that this is a correct copy of a letter written by Daniel Dechert, to Dr. Funston, aid to Maj. Gen. Harper, at Harper’s Ferry, April 31, 1861, found by me at the residence of Maj. Funston, “ The Highlands,” June 10, 1862.
Lieut. A. McLEOD CRAWFORD,
A. de C.
Lieut. A. McLeod Crawford, who found this letter, is the aid-de-camp of Brig. Gen. Crawford, who occupied Dr. Funsten’s residence as his headquarters while on a recent march from Winchester, and a native of Franklin County. The rebel Doctor’s residence having been hastily evacuated, the letter was found among some loose papers strewn over the floor. The publication of this letter in the Chambersburg papers of last week created a deep feeling of indignation in that town, as it did here as soon as its contents became known. The Times accompanies it with the following remarks: “This letter speaks for itself. This man Dechert, raised in this town, and obtaining all the education he possesses at our free schools, and at the time the letter was written residing at Hagerstown, within the Federal lines, is not only content to prove a traitor to his country, but must needs play the spy, and convey, secretly, to the enemy a map of the County which was supplying the bread he put into his mouth, and a map of his native County, where his relatives and friends reside—a man that would guide a murderous rebel horde in their invasion of our peaceful firesides ; and not only this, but promises to furnish the rebel General Harper “all the information he may desire,” in his contemplated invasion of Franklin County.— Ought such a dangerous and unprincipled man be allowed to run at large ? Is he not at once a traitor and a spy, and should he not be dealt with accordingly? In all probability this is but a small portion of the information be has been guilty of sending to the enemy. After this development, we can scarcely wonder the people of Hagerstown felt outraged at having a newspaper published in their midst by such a man as this.”
Herald of Freedom & Torch Light
Washington County Free Library
Hagerstown (Md.), Newspapers; Maryland, History, Civil War, 1861-1865
Washington County (Md.), 1861-1865