Brevetted Major Governor Fenton's Letter
State of New York,
Albany, 8th May, 1867.
Bvt. Major H. B. Smith.
Dear Sir.--I have the honor to transmit herewith a Brevet
Commission, conferred by the President in recognition of your
faithful and disinterested services in the late war.
In behalf of the State allow me to thank you for the gallantry
and devotion which induced this conspicuous mention by the
general government. I feel a lively solicitude in all that
relates to the honor and prosperity of the Soldiers of the
Union Army, and especially those from our own State, who
advanced its renown while defending the cause of our common
R. E. FENTON.
I believe there should be no continued ill feeling towards those who
conscientiously bore arms against us. Nor towards their official spies.
Nor towards persons who by reason of blood relationship or former close
affiliations aided them. But towards those, who for personal profit
aided them, and who sought to hamper us in our efforts to preserve the
Union, we cannot cease to have contempt.
It is held that "everything is fair in war." If so, then the deceptions
used in the secret service were fair. But the moral effect on the one
who pursues such service is not pleasant. Such persons become so used to
being impressed with possible dishonesty as to doubt mankind generally.
I had to fight to overcome that tendency. It is a much happier condition
of mind to be freer of suspicion. "No thing is stronger than it is in
its weakest point" is an axiom. Almost every person has a weak point,
which a detective seeks to find.
General Wallace's references to me were made after a period of forty
years, during which time he had met me but twice. It was gratifying,
greatly so, and I am perfectly willing to confess that I had "zeal," but
prefer to let his opinion of my "ability" be passed upon by others.
I hope I have not injured the stories in their telling, but I am very
afraid I have wearied you all.
New York, April, 1911.
Semi-Centennial of the Civil War.