The Hayes Presidential Library and Museums Manuscripts Division holds one of the largest collections of the Civil War's Confederate Officers' Prison located on Lake Erie's Johnson's Island. The most important of these collections is that donated by the late Charles E. Frohman, who wrote "Rebels on Lake Erie."
During a recent visit, Andrews Martin of Sandusky, Ohio donated this 2-cent "Black Jack" orange cover (above) addressed to Mrs. L. S. Frazer Sandusky O. and postmarked Mar. 8 '65 with a double circle postmark beside it. It also contains a partial strike of the examiner's oval (initials G. F. M.) in the corner.
As we discussed the rare cover, we believed that it was probably addressed to a relative of Confederate "Brigadier General" John W. Frazer. Frazer was the commanding officer who surrendered Cumberland Gap to General Burnside without firing a single shot. Frazer acted as a brigadier general, but after his surrender of the Cumberland Gap, his nomination was rejected by the Senate of the Confederate States. He did spend time at Johnson's Island, but was also imprisoned at Fort Warren in Boston Harbor.
A quick check online turned up a letter in the Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress. It was written by Letitia Frazer who traveled to Washington, D. C. to present her letter to President Abraham Lincoln asking for a parole for her husband, Captain C. W. Frazer, who was imprisoned on Johnson's Island. The letter is not dated, but ironically it was delivered to President Lincoln in an envelope marked "From Jay Cooke and Co., Washington, D. C."
A transcription of this letter follows.
To His Excellency Abraham Lincoln
President of the United States
My husband Capt. C. W. Frazer has been a Prisoner of War on Johnson's Island since Sept. 1863. I have followed him all through the war and when he was captured I went to Sandusky, Ohio and remained there still to be near him though I could not see him felt comforted to know that he was safe. Now the Exchange has commenced and I am almost crazy to get him out of that Army, I know of but one way I earnestly entreat the President to allow me to try it. His interests are all in the Union, his family are all loyal citizens of Memphis. They need him sorely and desire him to come home. I pray the President to give him a limited time to report at his place of exchange on his parole of honor so that I may have the opportunity to convince him that his duty is at home and to leave the Rebel Army. I know he must be exchanged when his time comes then he will be lost to me so this is my last opportunity to convert him and save my husband. I do not ask this great favor for him, but on behalf of his suffering family.
From this letter, it appears that Mrs. L. S. Frazer, was the wife of Capt. C. W. Frazer and, as she writes, followed him to Sandusky, where she was living to be near her husband, who was imprisoned on Johnson's Island.
President Lincoln gave his permission immediately. Below is a scan of a photocopy of a document found in the Roger Long Papers. Letitia Frazer was allowed an "interview" with her husband after taking the oath of allegiance. Letitia was allowed to visit once every ten days until her husband was released.
The Roger Long Papers contain much more about Frazer's service and post-war life, including this photograph of Frazer's military coat.. Frazer served as adjutant in the 5th Confederate Infantry.