Letter from James Mason to His Wife
(November 15, 1861)

Suspected and Disloyal Persons
Case of Mason, Slidell, Macfarland and Eustis.

Off the Capes of Virginia, November 15, 1861.

        MY VERY DEAR WIFE: The date of this will show you that we have been captured, and on the way to New York the ship will put in for coal into Hampton Roads. Captain Wilkes has been good enough to say that he would give this to the officer at Fort Monroe to take its chance of being sent to Norfolk by any flag of truce that may offer. We left Havana on the 7th instant on board a British mail steamer bound for England, and on the next day this ship fell in with us at sea and Captain Wilkes, the commander, it seems felt himself authorized to demand us from the English captain and here we are.
        As to all questions arising from the circumstances attending the capture it would not become me to discuss them here as my letter will of course pass under inspection. Messrs. Eustis, Slidell, Macfarland and myself were taken. The ladies proceeded on the voyage to England. Of course there will be all sorts of speculations in the newspapers concerning our capture and its consequences but I have only to say, my dear wife, that you should not permit your mind to be affected by them, and draw no other inference from my silence concerning them except that I of necessity write under constraint. In the meantime I assure you and our dear ones at home that I was never in better health in my life and in no manner depressed, as I beg you will not be. We have been treated with every possible courtesy and respect by Captain Wilkes and his officers and are guests in the cabin.
        I suppose we shall get to New York on Sunday or Monday next, the 17th or 18th, and in due time presume the papers will tell what disposition is made of us. I do not know whether I can write to you, but if allowed will do so and may have it in my power to tell you through what channel you can write. Macfarland will attend to your supplies and have no care about mine which are ample. I have one great consolation always present that while I am deprived of the power of serving and watching over you I feel entire confidence in the efficiency and excellence of our children and the kind friends around you.
        Should you find the means of writing to me let me have full details of home but nothing on public affairs. I can only add, my dear wife, my prayers for your safety and those of our loved ones at home.

From yours, most affectionately, forever,

P. S.--My love to Anna, Kate and all--all our circle and friends.
                                                                                J. M. M.

Source: "Official Records of the War of the Rebellion"

This page last updated 07/26/05