"Confederate Veteran's mention of Delawarean, Samuel B. Hearn, and his Confederate Compatriots"
Not at all disconcerted, Mrs. Gittings responded: "Yes, Mr. President, my kinsfolk and acquaintances are suffering, and I do what I can to relieve them."
Here the conversation was for a moment suspended, Mr. Lincoln assuming a reflective mood, his visitors meanwhile in suspense as to the issue period. The denouncement suggests that the President was revolving in his mind the happenings in Baltimore just preceding his inauguration. Deep was the relief of the party when, breaking the silence, he abruptly announced to Mrs. Gittings: "Madam, I owe you a debt. You took my family into your home in the midsts of a hostile mob. You gave the succor to help them on their way. That debt has never been paid, and I am glad of the opportunity to do so now, for I shall save the lives of these men."
Instructions were forewith issued for a suspension of the execution, and the Adjutant General, E. D. Townsend, on August 31, issued this order:
"The sentence to be hanged by a military commission, promulgated in General Order N. O. 61 Headquarters Middle Department 8th Army Corps, Baltimore, Md. August 8, 1864, in the case of Samuel P. (B.) Hearn, Braxton Lyon, and John R. H. Embert, citizens-- is commuted by the President of the United States to confinement at hard labor in the Penitentiary during the war. The Penitentiary at Albany, N.Y. is designated as the place of confinement to which the prisoners will be sent under suitable guard by order from this department commander and delivered to the warden for execution of their sentence."
BY ORDER OF THE SECRETARY OF WAR:
"In accordance with these orders, the three prisoners were transferred to the Albany Penitentiary was notified by the commissioner general of prisoners to send them to Fort Monroe for exchange. Their parole followed, and on July 12, Adjutant General Townsend announced in General Orders the remission of their sentence and immediate discharge upon taking of the oath of allegiance.
President Lincoln of course had no hand in the disposal of the men after April 14. His leniency may have been influenced by the protests of the Confederate authorities through Robert Ould, Commissioner of Exchange, who gave notice "That unless the men are released prompt and efficient measures of retaliation will be taken." The widow of Embert informs the rider that a son of Governor Curtain, of Pennsylvania, was one of the three federal officers held as hostages in Richmond until the case was disposed of.
Ould had as early as September 9, 1864 informed Major General Hitchcock, the Federal agent for exchange, through General Butler that Embert, Lyon, and Hearn had left their command the previous march to visit their relatives in Maryland, expecting to return in a short time, and that they were in no sense spies, and that the fact could be proved.