Joint Committee on Reconstruction
Colonel Milton M. Bane
Abraham Lincoln a Worse Traitor than Jefferson Davis

WASHINGTON, February 19, 1866.
Colonel Milton M. Bane sworn and examined.
By Mr. BOUTWELL: (Mr. GEORGE S. BOUTWELL, (of Massachusetts,) House of Representatives.)

Question. Where do you reside?
Answer. Quincy, Illinois.

Question. Have you been connected with the army; and if so, in what capacity and for how long a time?
Answer. I entered the service in August, 1861, as a colonel, and was mustered out of the service at Rome, Georgia, in May or June, 1864.

Question. How recently have you been in either of the eleven States that have been in rebellion?
Answer. I left Nashville, Tennessee, about the last of May, 1865.

Question. While you were in the south did you become acquainted with any persons who are now claiming seats in Congress from either of the eleven States which have been declared in rebellion?
Answer. Yes, sir; with Mr. George Houston, of Alabama, claiming a seat in the United States Senate, who lives at Athens, in that State. I made his acquaintance while I was in the military service.

Question. Do you know anything of his opinions in reference to the government of the United States?
Answer. While I was at Athens, Alabama, in command of a brigade, Mr. Houston, Mr. Prior, and some other gentleman, came into my office, and in that conversation he expressed some sentiments which convinced me of his animus towards the government. He spoke to me about "violating the Constitution," which is a common expression with such men. I told him that we were not there to discuss that question at all; we had quit discussing such matters and had come there to fight it out; that I thought the men who had voluntarily gone into the rebellion, giving it aid and comfort, presented rather a poor appearance standing there talking to me about constitutional law; that I was there under the authority of the President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, and his commanding generals, and expected to do my duty, which was to whip the rebels. Mr. Houston replied to me that he thought Mr. Lincoln was as bad a traitor as Jefferson Davis, and ought to receive the same treatment. I told him that I had no doubt he entertained those views; that we on the other side did not, and that was what we were fighting about. A few days ago I met Mr. Houston at Willards' Hotel in this city. I accosted him, shook hands with him, and we passed a few words. I asked him how he felt on the subject. He said, "About as usual," "Well," said I, "do you feel towards Mr. Lincoln and his friends as you did when you spoke to me in Alabama a couple of years ago?" He seemed a little surprised, and asked me how that was, and I told him. Said he, "Yes, sir; I think to-day that Mr. Lincoln was a worse man than Jefferson Davis." I think the words he used were, "worse traitor;" but I am not right certain about that. I said to him, "Is that your opinion to-day?" "Yes," he said. "I have not changed it." Of course, I then left him, and have had no more to say to him. That was the end of our conversation. Mr. Houston always treated me gentlemanly at his house and in his visits to me.

Question. Did he claim or profess to be a Union man?
Answer. No, sir; not a Union man, but a constitutional man, as he termed it.

Question. What did you understand by that?
Answer. I understood that he claimed that we, the war party, were violating the Constitution in a worse manner than Jefferson Davis and his friends. That was my understanding of it.

Question. Do you know anything concerning others claiming seats as senators or representatives from either of those States?
Answer. No, sir; I do not, not personally.


Report of the Joint Committee on Reconstruction of the First Session Thirty-Ninth Congress, Government Printing Office, Washington, 1866, Arkansas - Georgia - Mississippi - Alabama, pages 75-76.