Return to Dr. Bronson's St. Augustine History
Capture of Virgil H Cate 1st Lieutenant
Company C 7th Regiment
New Hampshire Volunteers
January 20, 1863.
General G. T. BEAUREARD.


One week ago last Friday  in connection with S. T. Riddell, C. Rowell and 0. F. French were
captured by a detachment of cavalry under command of Captain Dickison near Saint Augustine,
Fla. We had been out by invitation to see them grind cane and were returning when we were
captured. We were taken to Captain Dickison's camp, near the
Saint Johns River, and from thence
to General Finegan at Lake City, where we were paroled and sent to this place in charge of Captain
Mays, who has our paroles. On our arrival here we were lodged in jail where we now are. I would
state further that there are two other prisoners with us who belong at Key West, Fla., and also two
others who claim to be deserters. They have all been paroled.

Permit me now, general, to call your attention to the following facts: First, we have no clothing
except what we have on, and, second, our means for providing ourselves with these articles are
very limited; consequently we would most respectfully ask that we may be sent North as soon as

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,,
First Lieutenant Company C, Seventh Regt.
New Hampshire Vols.

Captured by the Enemy -
Advices for St. Augustine bring us the news of the capture, on the 9th instant, of a party of three
adventurous young men, including a lieutenant of the Seventh New Hampshire Volunteers, the
sutler of the regiment, and a civilian who had visited St. Augustine for his health. We do not learn
the names of the unlucky captives. They rode out beyond our picket lines, taking a road which has
been frequented by pleasure-hunters ever since our forces have occupied the town, and were
made prisoners before a thought of danger flashed upon them. Two of them had their wives at St.
Augustine. Letters were subsequently received by the afflicted women, informing them of the safe
arrival of their husbands at Tallahasse. We confess to very little sympathy for the captured parties,
who, in the light of all the mishaps of this nature which have occured during the war, were so
culpably careless as to venture unprotected into the enemy's country.
The New South, Port Royal, Saturday, Jan. 17, 1863.

January 30, 1863.
General MERCER, Commanding, &c., District of Georgia.
GENERAL: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication dated January 21,
1863, calling attention to the case of Mr. D. McDonald, of McIntosh County, Ga., claimed by you to
be a noncombatant who has never been in military service, now held as a prisoner at this post, and
asking that I take Mr. McDonald's case into consideration and that he be released and returned to
his family.

Without pausing to enter upon the merits of this particular case I would most respectfully inform you
that by the same flag of truce which conveyed your letter I received notification that First Lieut. Virgil
H. Cate, Company C, Seventh Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers, recently captured in the
vicinity of Saint Augustine, Fla., is held as a prisoner in Charleston jail, General Beauregard having
notified him that being a commissioned officer he is not subject to exchange, but that he will
probably be turned over to the local authorities of the State of Florida for trial under the statutes
made and provided in that State for the punishment of persons engaged in inciting negro slaves to
insurrection. This action is doubtless based on the declaration made in the recent message of Mr.
Jefferson Davis that hereafter unless Congress (meaning the Confederate Congress) think some
other course more expedient he will cause all commissioned officers of the United States taken
prisoners of war to be turned over for punishment as before recited to the authorities of the several
States in which they may have been taken.

Under these circumstances and until this policy in violation of all the rules of war amongst civilized
nations be distinctly and practically repudiated I announce to you that all commissioned officers of
your service now prisoners, or hereafter to become so, in my hands will be kept in close
confinement and held answerable with their lives for the safety of my officers who are prisoners, and
that I will not discharge or entertain applications for discharging upon any pretext whatever any
citizens or residents of
Georgia, South Carolina or Florida now in my hands or who may hereafter
be captured by coastwise expeditions and incursions. Regretting that a previous departure from the
recognized rules of civilized warfare on the side of your authorities should compel this retaliatory
declaration and the acts to follow it on my part,

I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Major-General, Commanding.

This issue went on as African-Americans became part of the army:

Hilton Head, Port Royal, S. C., June 10, 1863.
Commanding Raids, Georgia and Florida.
COLONEL: Every rebel man you may capture, citizen or soldier, you will send in irons to this place
to be kept as hostages for the proper treatment of any of your men who may accidentally fall into
the hands of the enemy.

Very respectfully, your most obedient servant,

Major-General, Commanding

Virgil Cate was later released and died at the Battle of Fort Wagner with Col. Putnam of the 7th New
General G. T. Beaureard
General Hunter
General Hugh Weeden Mercer
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