From the Richmond Dispatch, 5/8/1863
Austrian Among the Confederates – His Confinement in Libby Prison.
Baron Rudolph Wardener,
formerly an officer in the Austrian service, who was captured with Gen.
Stoughton, at Fairfax Court House on the 9th of March last, and taken
to the Libby prison, in this city, and shortly afterwards released, has recently
arrived North. He gives the following account of his capture and subsequent
treatment while in Richmond:
As he was not in the
military service of the United States, he, as well as the other citizen
prisoners, were, by an arrangement between Commissioners Ould and Ludlow,
released from the parole which they at first gave previous to their release.
After their capture
they were taken to the headquarters of Gen. Fitzhugh Lee, and were treated very
kindly both by him and Capt. Mosby. On their arrival in Richmond, however, they
were thrown into the Libby prison and treated very harshly.
Soon after reaching
Richmond he wrote to Gen. Winder demanding his release, as he was not a citizen
of the United States and not in the service of the United States Government, and
asking for an interview with him that he might explain his position more fully.
Receiving no answer to his application, he then wrote the rebel Secretary of War
to the same effect; but this was also not noticed.
Finally, he applied to
Mr. De Voss, the Austrian Consul, who called on Gen. Winder in regard to his
case. Getting no satisfaction from him, he then called upon the Secretary of
War, who said that there was great suspicion against Baron Wardener, as he had
been with Col. Wyndham, and was suspected of being a commissioned officer upon
Col. Wyndham’s staff. He finally referred his case to Judge Baxter for
examination. He was sent to the Judge, with four deserters, under guard. The
judge questioned him very closely as to his business in the camps of their
enemies. The Baron explained to him that he was by profession a military man,
and was visiting and examining the camps and military organization of the United
States cavalry as a matter of professional interest. The Judge expressed regret
that he had been so unfortunate as to be captured. He further said to him that
if it was his desire to see the military operations as a mater of professional
interest, the Confederate Government would invite him to examine their side. To
this the Baron replied that he had already been fourteen days in the Libby
prison, and that he had seen enough of their side of the contest.
At a second interview
with Judge Baxter he informed Baron Wardener that unless he would sign a parole
they should not treat him either as a citizen, soldier or officer, but as an
inciter of insurrection among the slaves.
To this he replied that
they could treat him as they pleased; but that he thought the Austrian
Government would demand satisfaction. At this the Judge became greatly excited,
and jumped up from his chair, saying, “What do you say about your Government?
What do we know about your Government? We have never acknowledged your
consultation with a number of Union officers who were in prison with him, as to
what course he had better take under the circumstances, by their advice he
signed the parole under protest, and was released, as before stated, although he
had previously repeatedly refused to do so.
Judge Baxter said that
Colonel Wyndham, while in the Austrian service, might possibly have been a
gentleman, but that he was now a robber, murderer, incendiary, &c., and they
would hang him and his staff altogether if they should catch them.
The treatment of the
Union officers at the Libby prison is most outrageous. They are confined in the
garret of the prison, most of them without even wooden boxes to sleep in , and
only filthy blankets for bed clothes. The filth is most disgusting, and the
whole place alive with vermin. There are nearly 250 officers confined there. The
bread supplied to them is decent, but the meat is decayed and stinking – much
of it mule meat. Capt. Turner, the Provost Marshal, who has charge of the Libby
prison, is a perfect brute in human shape, who delights in heaping abuse upon
the unfortunate victims who fall into his hands.
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