American Detective Fiction    April 1841-July 1891

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  Published in
United States Democratic Review, August 1845


“The Innocent Convict,” continued from p. 5

After having a gill of raw whiskey served out to me, a piece of pork and a loaf of bread, I was marched off to a fort in the neighborhood in company with two or three other miserable men who had been driven by misfortune or crime to enlist for soldiers. It is a singular anomaly in a country where every man. boasts himself a patriot, that only the most degraded and worthless citizens are willing to fight in defense of their country. The soldier, instead of being the most honored man in the commonwealth, is considered the most degraded and good for nothing. I did not know that I could avoid enlistment by swearing that I was drunk when I received the bounty which they said I had taken, and therefore I suffered the surgeon of the fort to examine me and afterwards signed the recruiting papers, and before I could collect my scattered senses, I was dressed in the uniform of a hired soldier. I shed a few bitter tears as I thought of my mother, and my altered prospects; but I had no fears of the final result of my mis

fortune, for I thought that a simple statement of my case to the commanding officer of the fort would procure my release. But in this I was greatly


“When I applied to him for a discharge, he treated me with lofty disdain, and pretended not to believe a word that I uttered. I had no friend to whom I could apply for aid, and I was loath to inform my mother of my condition. I therefore resolved to write to the Secretary of War at Washington, and request him to send an order for my discharge; but in reply to my letter an order came for my arrest, and I was placed in confinement for breaking the army regulations, in writing to Washington without the permission of my commanding officer. I was confined in a little cell in company with two other unfortunates who had been condemned to wear an iron ball attached to their ankles, for some crime similar to my own. Here I was shut up every night at dark, and was released in the morning to assist in doing the drudgery of the fort. If an officer, who had been fed, clothed, and educated at the public expense at West Point, had been guilty of an offence much greater than that which these men had committed, he would have been required to deliver up his sword, and his greatest

Continued on p. 7

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