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Suspected but not convicted, this General went to prison
December 1954 | Volume 6, Issue 1
On February 27, 1863, Stone met the inquisitors for the third time. His final appearance was a triumphant acquittal. He had now seen a copy of the testimony and the charges against him, and could answer each accusation specifically. He easily demolished the Committee’s previous indictment.
Wade, in seeming astonishment, asked “Why did you not give these explanations when you were here before?” Stone replied, “Because … the committee did not state to me the particular cases … I gave general answers to general allegations.”
This was as close as Stone ever came to any official exoneration. He was never able to secure the formal trial which he desired, nor could he be assigned to his old command. For a period he served in the Gulf Department. Later he returned to the East to command a brigade in the Army of the Potomac.
Before embarking on the spring campaign in 1814, he wrote a final appeal to Lincoln: “This will be the last letter which I shall address to you during my life, or to justify myself in history … I respectfully ask, for the sake of the service which I have loved and never dishonored, and for the sake of my name in history … that some act, some word, some order may issue from the Executive which shall place my name clear of reproach, as I know it should be.”
The act, the word, the order never came. Even if he had been a brilliant soldier, his usefulness was ended. Wherever he went, that cloud of suspicion, unknown and damning, moved with him. In 1864 he resigned his commission.
After the war Stone had no trouble seeming employment. Mining and construction companies were eager to hire his engineering talents. In 1870 he went to Egypt to be chief of staff of the khedive’s army. He returned to the United States in 1883 and his death came in 1887. Ironically, in his last job he superintended the laying of the foundation of the Statue of Liberty.