The online tool for teaching with documents, from the National Archives

Alfred Sinker and the Writ of Habeas Corpus

Making Connections

All documents and text associated with this activity are printed below, followed by a worksheet for student responses.

Introduction

In 1861, during the Civil War, a fifteen-year old boy named Alfred Sinker ran away from his home in Indiana to join the Union Army in Ohio. His regiment was sent to St. Louis, Missouri.

Federal law prohibited the enlistment of boys under 18 without the permission of their parent or guardian. So Alfred's father, Edward Sinker, came to St. Louis and petitioned in Federal court for a "writ of habeas corpus" — a court order to deliver a person from custody. (Habeas corpus is a protection from unlawful imprisonment since you can challenge the legality of your detainment; it's part of the U.S. Constitution.)

Judge Samuel Treat found Edward's case convincing, and issued the writ of habeas corpus. Typically, a writ of habeas corpus demands a prison official or law officer bring a prisoner to court; but in the Sinker case, a military officer delivered Alfred, who was discharged from the Army and returned to his parents.

Read through the documents below. Consider how a writ of habeas corpus works, why someone would ask for one, and why it is an important part of the American justice system. Look carefully at each page (click "View Document Details" to read more closely) and read the transcript that follows to help you understand it. Answer the questions as you go.



Name:
Class:

Worksheet

Alfred Sinker and the Writ of Habeas Corpus

Making Connections

Examine the documents and text included in this activity. Fill in any blanks in the sequence with your thoughts and write your conclusion response in the space provided.

Writ of Habeas Corpus for Alfred T. Sinker, Including Edward Sinker`s Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus


Transcription of Edward Sinker's letter to Judge Treat:

To the Hon. Samuel Treat
Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri

The petition of Edward T. Sinker would most respectfully represent that he is a citizen of the state of Indiana where he resides—that on or about the 24th day of August, A.D. 1861, his son Alfred T. Sinker left his home and went to the city of Cincinnati, state of Ohio, where he enlisted in the volunteer service of the United States as a soldier in a Military Company at that time commanded by one Captain Hickson Cooper, but at the present time commanded by 1st Lieutenant J. H. Hollinchied, said company having been removed from the state of Ohio, is now stationed in the city of St. Louis, Mo, at a Military post known as the St. Louis Arsenal, owned and occupied by the United States, and under the command and control of one Captain Granger, and by whom the body of petitioner’s son Alfred T. Sinker is now held by virtue of his enlistment and for no other

Writ of Habeas Corpus for Alfred T. Sinker, Including Edward Sinker`s Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus


Transcription of Edward Sinker's letter to Judge Treat (second page):

cause or reason. Your petitioner further represents that his son is still a minor of tender years, that he is not yet sixteen years of age, and that his enlistment was entirely without the knowledge or consent of his parents or guardians, and that said enlistment according to the laws of the United States is illegal and void. Your petitioner further says that Alfred T. Sinker is his son and child born in lawful wedlock and owes service and labor to him, as his father & natural guardian and to no one else, and that he never had any other guardian but his father.

Your petitioner therefore prays your Honor will issue a writ of Habeas Corpus to the said Captain Granger commanding him to produce the body of Alfred T. Sinker together with the cause of his detention to the end that said cause may be inquired into and that the said Alfred T. Sinker may be discharged.

Edward T. Sinker by his attorney R. S. MacDonald
Answer in the blank box that follows:
Alfred Sinker broke the law by joining the Union forces without parental consent; and certainly Edward Sinker wanted his son home to keep him safe. Yet, Edward Sinker implies another reason for requesting a writ of habeas corpus. What does Edward Sinker’s request tell you about the expectations of a young man in the 1860s Midwest? (Hint: you might consider what Edward Sinker implies with the phrase “owes service and labor to him, as his father & natural guardian and to no one else”).
Enter your response

Writ of Habeas Corpus for Alfred T. Sinker, Including Edward Sinker`s Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus


Transcription of Edward Sinker’s appearance before the District Commissioner:

United States of America
District of Missouri
Personally appeared before me the undersigned United States Commissioner for Mo District, Edward T. Sinker who being by me duly sworn as his oath states that the foregoing petition and the matters wherein stated and true and correct.
Edward T. Sinker
Subscribed and Sworn to before me
This 12th day of September 1861
Ben O. Stickman, US Commissioner
Missouri District

Writ of Habeas Corpus for Alfred T. Sinker, Including Edward Sinker`s Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus


Transcription of Judge Treat's order to deliver Alfred Sinker:

United States of America, Eastern District of Missouri, The President of the United States of America,

To Captain Granger, Commanding at the Arsenal of St. Louis, Missouri, and to any other person having the custody of Alfred T. Sinker.

Greeting: You are hereby commanded that you have forthwith the body of Alfred T. Sinker, now detained and illegally restrained of his liberty by you, as it is said, together with the day and cause of his caption, detention and restraint, by whatsoever name the said Alfred T. Sinker may be held, before me, Samuel Treat, District Judge of the United States of the Eastern District of Missouri, at the Room of the United States District Court for said District, at the Custom House building, in the City of St. Louis, Missouri, in said District, to do, submit to and receive whatsoever shall be considered in that behalf concerning the said Alfred T. Sinker; and that you have then and here this writ.

Witness Samuel Treat, Judge of the District Court of the United States of the Eastern District of Missouri, this twelfth day of September, in the year of our Lord, eighteen hundred and sixty-one.
Samuel Treat

Writ of Habeas Corpus for Alfred T. Sinker, Including Edward Sinker`s Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus


Transcription of Robert McDonald’s correspondence [left side of page]:

This original writ was served by me, Robert McDonald, and the body was delivered at once to said McDonald to be taken before the within named Judge, without any formal return being made to the writ. The prisoner was thereupon discharged and a certificate of his discharge granted.

Transcription of “Habeas Corpus” [right side of page]:

United States of America Eastern District of America “Habeas Corpus”
under provision of the Acts of United States Congress

The Petition alleges that said Alfred T. Sinker is a minor under sixteen years of age, and was enlisted without the consent of his parent, guardian or master.
Answer in the blank box that follows:

Notice the series of correspondence that had to take place in order to discharge Alfred Sinker. Edward Sinker knew where he could find his son, but rather than appealing directly to the officer in charge of Alfred, he wrote to Judge Treat. The judge issued the writ of habeas corpus. A writ of habeas corpus asks someone (in this case Alfred’s superior military officer) to bring someone accused of breaking the law (Alfred) before the court, and the writ can only be issued by a judge. Why is it important that a judge deliver the order and that the detainee be brought to the court?
Enter your response
Answer in the blank box that follows:
The right of Habeas Corpus allows those imprisoned to challenge their imprisonment. Edward Sinker’s petition was not controversial and was granted immediately. This right, however, can be suspended during wartime according to the Constitution. During the Civil War, President Lincoln occasionally suspended habeas corpus. This meant that the military could detain civilians without court approval. Why do you think President Lincoln did this during the Civil War? Do you agree or disagree with his decision?
Enter your response



1

Activity Element

Writ of Habeas Corpus for Alfred T. Sinker, Including Edward Sinker`s Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus

Page 3



2

Activity Element

Writ of Habeas Corpus for Alfred T. Sinker, Including Edward Sinker`s Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus

Page 4



3

Activity Element

Writ of Habeas Corpus for Alfred T. Sinker, Including Edward Sinker`s Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus

Page 5



4

Activity Element

Writ of Habeas Corpus for Alfred T. Sinker, Including Edward Sinker`s Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus

Page 1



5

Activity Element

Writ of Habeas Corpus for Alfred T. Sinker, Including Edward Sinker`s Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus

Page 2



Conclusion

Alfred Sinker and the Writ of Habeas Corpus

Making Connections

Now that you’ve completed the activity, think about Alfred’s decision to leave home and join the Union Army, and Edward’s decision to use the court system to get his son back. Imagine you are writing a play about the Sinkers. Write part of the script in which Edward and Alfred have a conversation after Alfred has returned home. Make sure each character explains what motivated them to do what they did, and how the Civil War setting impacted their choices.



Your Response




Document

Writ of Habeas Corpus for Alfred T. Sinker, Including Edward Sinker's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus

9/1861

Alfred Tarleton Sinker was just 15 years old when he enlisted in the Union army during the Civil War. Born on May 11, 1846, in Flintshire, England, Alfred immigrated to America with his parents, Edward and Sarah Sinker, at the age of four. The family settled in Indianapolis, Indiana, where Edward entered the manufacturing business.

On August 24, 1861, 15-year old Alfred left his Indianapolis home and made his way to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he lied about his age and enlisted in the 5th Independent Battery of Ohio Light Artillery on September 2. Alfred’s regiment was soon sent to the St. Louis Arsenal in Missouri.

Meanwhile, Edward Sinker discovered his son’s whereabouts and came to St. Louis to petition for a writ of habeas corpus in Federal court. Federal law prohibited the enlistment of boys under 18 without the permission of their parent or guardian.

Judge Samuel Treat found the evidence convincing, and issued this writ of habeas corpus — a court order to deliver a person from custody — to the commander of the St. Louis Arsenal. Alfred was discharged without delay.

Transcript

United States of America
Eastern District of Missouri
The President of the United States of America,

To Captain Granger, Commanding at the Arsenal of St. Louis, Missouri, and to any other person having the custody of Alfred T. Sinker.

Greeting:

You are hereby commanded that you have forthwith the body of Alfred T. Sinker, now detained and illegally restrained of his liberty by you, as it is said, together with the day and cause of his caption, detention and restraint, by whatsoever name the said Alfred T. Sinker may be held, before me, Samuel Treat, District Judge of the United States of the Eastern District of Missouri, at the Room of the United States District Court for said District, at the Custom House building, in the City of St. Louis, Missouri, in said District, to do, submit to and receive whatsoever shall be considered in that behalf concerning the said Alfred T. Sinker; and that you have then and here this writ.

Witness Samuel Treat, Judge of the District Court of the United States of the Eastern District of Missouri, this twelfth day of September, in the year of our Lord, eighteen hundred and sixty-one.

Samuel Treat
[column 1]

This original writ was served by me, Robert McDonald, and the body was delivered at once to
said McDonald to be taken before the within named Judge, without any formal return being made to the writ.

The prisoner was thereupon discharged and a certificate of his discharge granted.

[column 2]

United States of America
Eastern District of America

“Habeas Corpus” under provision of the Acts of United States Congress

The Petition alleges that said Alfred T. Sinker is a minor under sixteen years of age, and was
enlisted without the consent of his parent, guardian or master.
To the Hon. Samuel Treat
Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri

The petition of Edward T. Sinker would most respectfully represent that he is a citizen of the
state of Indiana where he resides—that on or about the 24th day of August, A.D. 1861, his son Alfred T. Sinker left his home and went to the city of Cincinnati, state of Ohio, where he enlisted in the volunteer service of the United States as a soldier in a Military Company at that time commanded by one Captain Hickson Cooper, but at the present time commanded by 1st
Lieutenant J. H. Hollinchied, said company having been removed from the state of Ohio, is now stationed in the city of St. Louis, Mo, at a Military post known as the St. Louis Arsenal, owned and occupied by the United States, and under the command and control of one Captain Granger, and by whom the body of petitioner’s son Alfred T. Sinker is now held by virtue of his enlistment and for no other
cause or reason. Your petitioner further represents that his son is still a minor of tender years,
that he is not yet sixteen years of age, and that his enlistment was entirely without the knowledge or consent of his parents or guardians, and that said enlistment according to the laws of the United States is illegal and void. Your petitioner further says that Alfred T. Sinker is his son and child born in lawful wedlock and owes service and labor to him, as his father & natural guardian and to no one else, and that he never had any other guardian but his father.

Your petitioner therefore prays your Honor will issue a writ of Habeas Corpus to the said Captain Granger commanding him to produce the body of Alfred T. Sinker together with the
cause of his detention to the end that said cause may be inquired into and that the said Alfred T. Sinker may be discharged.

Edward T. Sinker by his attorney R. S. MacDonald

United States of America
District of Missouri

Personally appeared before me the undersigned United States Commissioner for Mo District,
Edward T. Sinker who being by me duly sworn as his oath states that the foregoing petition and the matters wherein stated and true and correct.

Edward T. Sinker
Subscribed and Sworn to before me
This 12th day of September 1861
Ben O. Stickman, US Commissioner
Missouri District
This primary source comes from the Records of District Courts of the United States.
Full Citation: Writ of Habeas Corpus for Alfred T. Sinker, Including Edward Sinker's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus; 9/1861; Habeas Corpus Petitions, 1861 - 1919; Records of District Courts of the United States, ; National Archives at Kansas City, Kansas City, MO. [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/sinker-writ-of-habeas-corpus, July 10, 2020]


Writ of Habeas Corpus for Alfred T. Sinker, Including Edward Sinker's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus

Page 1



Writ of Habeas Corpus for Alfred T. Sinker, Including Edward Sinker's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus

Page 2



Writ of Habeas Corpus for Alfred T. Sinker, Including Edward Sinker's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus

Page 3



Writ of Habeas Corpus for Alfred T. Sinker, Including Edward Sinker's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus

Page 4



Writ of Habeas Corpus for Alfred T. Sinker, Including Edward Sinker's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus

Page 5



Document

Writ of Habeas Corpus for Alfred T. Sinker, Including Edward Sinker's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus

9/1861

Alfred Tarleton Sinker was just 15 years old when he enlisted in the Union army during the Civil War. Born on May 11, 1846, in Flintshire, England, Alfred immigrated to America with his parents, Edward and Sarah Sinker, at the age of four. The family settled in Indianapolis, Indiana, where Edward entered the manufacturing business.

On August 24, 1861, 15-year old Alfred left his Indianapolis home and made his way to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he lied about his age and enlisted in the 5th Independent Battery of Ohio Light Artillery on September 2. Alfred’s regiment was soon sent to the St. Louis Arsenal in Missouri.

Meanwhile, Edward Sinker discovered his son’s whereabouts and came to St. Louis to petition for a writ of habeas corpus in Federal court. Federal law prohibited the enlistment of boys under 18 without the permission of their parent or guardian.

Judge Samuel Treat found the evidence convincing, and issued this writ of habeas corpus — a court order to deliver a person from custody — to the commander of the St. Louis Arsenal. Alfred was discharged without delay.

Transcript

United States of America
Eastern District of Missouri
The President of the United States of America,

To Captain Granger, Commanding at the Arsenal of St. Louis, Missouri, and to any other person having the custody of Alfred T. Sinker.

Greeting:

You are hereby commanded that you have forthwith the body of Alfred T. Sinker, now detained and illegally restrained of his liberty by you, as it is said, together with the day and cause of his caption, detention and restraint, by whatsoever name the said Alfred T. Sinker may be held, before me, Samuel Treat, District Judge of the United States of the Eastern District of Missouri, at the Room of the United States District Court for said District, at the Custom House building, in the City of St. Louis, Missouri, in said District, to do, submit to and receive whatsoever shall be considered in that behalf concerning the said Alfred T. Sinker; and that you have then and here this writ.

Witness Samuel Treat, Judge of the District Court of the United States of the Eastern District of Missouri, this twelfth day of September, in the year of our Lord, eighteen hundred and sixty-one.

Samuel Treat
[column 1]

This original writ was served by me, Robert McDonald, and the body was delivered at once to
said McDonald to be taken before the within named Judge, without any formal return being made to the writ.

The prisoner was thereupon discharged and a certificate of his discharge granted.

[column 2]

United States of America
Eastern District of America

“Habeas Corpus” under provision of the Acts of United States Congress

The Petition alleges that said Alfred T. Sinker is a minor under sixteen years of age, and was
enlisted without the consent of his parent, guardian or master.
To the Hon. Samuel Treat
Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri

The petition of Edward T. Sinker would most respectfully represent that he is a citizen of the
state of Indiana where he resides—that on or about the 24th day of August, A.D. 1861, his son Alfred T. Sinker left his home and went to the city of Cincinnati, state of Ohio, where he enlisted in the volunteer service of the United States as a soldier in a Military Company at that time commanded by one Captain Hickson Cooper, but at the present time commanded by 1st
Lieutenant J. H. Hollinchied, said company having been removed from the state of Ohio, is now stationed in the city of St. Louis, Mo, at a Military post known as the St. Louis Arsenal, owned and occupied by the United States, and under the command and control of one Captain Granger, and by whom the body of petitioner’s son Alfred T. Sinker is now held by virtue of his enlistment and for no other
cause or reason. Your petitioner further represents that his son is still a minor of tender years,
that he is not yet sixteen years of age, and that his enlistment was entirely without the knowledge or consent of his parents or guardians, and that said enlistment according to the laws of the United States is illegal and void. Your petitioner further says that Alfred T. Sinker is his son and child born in lawful wedlock and owes service and labor to him, as his father & natural guardian and to no one else, and that he never had any other guardian but his father.

Your petitioner therefore prays your Honor will issue a writ of Habeas Corpus to the said Captain Granger commanding him to produce the body of Alfred T. Sinker together with the
cause of his detention to the end that said cause may be inquired into and that the said Alfred T. Sinker may be discharged.

Edward T. Sinker by his attorney R. S. MacDonald

United States of America
District of Missouri

Personally appeared before me the undersigned United States Commissioner for Mo District,
Edward T. Sinker who being by me duly sworn as his oath states that the foregoing petition and the matters wherein stated and true and correct.

Edward T. Sinker
Subscribed and Sworn to before me
This 12th day of September 1861
Ben O. Stickman, US Commissioner
Missouri District
This primary source comes from the Records of District Courts of the United States.
Full Citation: Writ of Habeas Corpus for Alfred T. Sinker, Including Edward Sinker's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus; 9/1861; Habeas Corpus Petitions, 1861 - 1919; Records of District Courts of the United States, ; National Archives at Kansas City, Kansas City, MO. [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/sinker-writ-of-habeas-corpus, July 10, 2020]


Writ of Habeas Corpus for Alfred T. Sinker, Including Edward Sinker's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus

Page 1



Writ of Habeas Corpus for Alfred T. Sinker, Including Edward Sinker's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus

Page 2



Writ of Habeas Corpus for Alfred T. Sinker, Including Edward Sinker's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus

Page 3



Writ of Habeas Corpus for Alfred T. Sinker, Including Edward Sinker's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus

Page 4



Writ of Habeas Corpus for Alfred T. Sinker, Including Edward Sinker's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus

Page 5



Document

Writ of Habeas Corpus for Alfred T. Sinker, Including Edward Sinker's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus

9/1861

Alfred Tarleton Sinker was just 15 years old when he enlisted in the Union army during the Civil War. Born on May 11, 1846, in Flintshire, England, Alfred immigrated to America with his parents, Edward and Sarah Sinker, at the age of four. The family settled in Indianapolis, Indiana, where Edward entered the manufacturing business.

On August 24, 1861, 15-year old Alfred left his Indianapolis home and made his way to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he lied about his age and enlisted in the 5th Independent Battery of Ohio Light Artillery on September 2. Alfred’s regiment was soon sent to the St. Louis Arsenal in Missouri.

Meanwhile, Edward Sinker discovered his son’s whereabouts and came to St. Louis to petition for a writ of habeas corpus in Federal court. Federal law prohibited the enlistment of boys under 18 without the permission of their parent or guardian.

Judge Samuel Treat found the evidence convincing, and issued this writ of habeas corpus — a court order to deliver a person from custody — to the commander of the St. Louis Arsenal. Alfred was discharged without delay.

Transcript

United States of America
Eastern District of Missouri
The President of the United States of America,

To Captain Granger, Commanding at the Arsenal of St. Louis, Missouri, and to any other person having the custody of Alfred T. Sinker.

Greeting:

You are hereby commanded that you have forthwith the body of Alfred T. Sinker, now detained and illegally restrained of his liberty by you, as it is said, together with the day and cause of his caption, detention and restraint, by whatsoever name the said Alfred T. Sinker may be held, before me, Samuel Treat, District Judge of the United States of the Eastern District of Missouri, at the Room of the United States District Court for said District, at the Custom House building, in the City of St. Louis, Missouri, in said District, to do, submit to and receive whatsoever shall be considered in that behalf concerning the said Alfred T. Sinker; and that you have then and here this writ.

Witness Samuel Treat, Judge of the District Court of the United States of the Eastern District of Missouri, this twelfth day of September, in the year of our Lord, eighteen hundred and sixty-one.

Samuel Treat
[column 1]

This original writ was served by me, Robert McDonald, and the body was delivered at once to
said McDonald to be taken before the within named Judge, without any formal return being made to the writ.

The prisoner was thereupon discharged and a certificate of his discharge granted.

[column 2]

United States of America
Eastern District of America

“Habeas Corpus” under provision of the Acts of United States Congress

The Petition alleges that said Alfred T. Sinker is a minor under sixteen years of age, and was
enlisted without the consent of his parent, guardian or master.
To the Hon. Samuel Treat
Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri

The petition of Edward T. Sinker would most respectfully represent that he is a citizen of the
state of Indiana where he resides—that on or about the 24th day of August, A.D. 1861, his son Alfred T. Sinker left his home and went to the city of Cincinnati, state of Ohio, where he enlisted in the volunteer service of the United States as a soldier in a Military Company at that time commanded by one Captain Hickson Cooper, but at the present time commanded by 1st
Lieutenant J. H. Hollinchied, said company having been removed from the state of Ohio, is now stationed in the city of St. Louis, Mo, at a Military post known as the St. Louis Arsenal, owned and occupied by the United States, and under the command and control of one Captain Granger, and by whom the body of petitioner’s son Alfred T. Sinker is now held by virtue of his enlistment and for no other
cause or reason. Your petitioner further represents that his son is still a minor of tender years,
that he is not yet sixteen years of age, and that his enlistment was entirely without the knowledge or consent of his parents or guardians, and that said enlistment according to the laws of the United States is illegal and void. Your petitioner further says that Alfred T. Sinker is his son and child born in lawful wedlock and owes service and labor to him, as his father & natural guardian and to no one else, and that he never had any other guardian but his father.

Your petitioner therefore prays your Honor will issue a writ of Habeas Corpus to the said Captain Granger commanding him to produce the body of Alfred T. Sinker together with the
cause of his detention to the end that said cause may be inquired into and that the said Alfred T. Sinker may be discharged.

Edward T. Sinker by his attorney R. S. MacDonald

United States of America
District of Missouri

Personally appeared before me the undersigned United States Commissioner for Mo District,
Edward T. Sinker who being by me duly sworn as his oath states that the foregoing petition and the matters wherein stated and true and correct.

Edward T. Sinker
Subscribed and Sworn to before me
This 12th day of September 1861
Ben O. Stickman, US Commissioner
Missouri District
This primary source comes from the Records of District Courts of the United States.
Full Citation: Writ of Habeas Corpus for Alfred T. Sinker, Including Edward Sinker's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus; 9/1861; Habeas Corpus Petitions, 1861 - 1919; Records of District Courts of the United States, ; National Archives at Kansas City, Kansas City, MO. [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/sinker-writ-of-habeas-corpus, July 10, 2020]


Writ of Habeas Corpus for Alfred T. Sinker, Including Edward Sinker's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus

Page 1



Writ of Habeas Corpus for Alfred T. Sinker, Including Edward Sinker's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus

Page 2



Writ of Habeas Corpus for Alfred T. Sinker, Including Edward Sinker's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus

Page 3



Writ of Habeas Corpus for Alfred T. Sinker, Including Edward Sinker's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus

Page 4



Writ of Habeas Corpus for Alfred T. Sinker, Including Edward Sinker's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus

Page 5



Document

Writ of Habeas Corpus for Alfred T. Sinker, Including Edward Sinker's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus

9/1861

Alfred Tarleton Sinker was just 15 years old when he enlisted in the Union army during the Civil War. Born on May 11, 1846, in Flintshire, England, Alfred immigrated to America with his parents, Edward and Sarah Sinker, at the age of four. The family settled in Indianapolis, Indiana, where Edward entered the manufacturing business.

On August 24, 1861, 15-year old Alfred left his Indianapolis home and made his way to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he lied about his age and enlisted in the 5th Independent Battery of Ohio Light Artillery on September 2. Alfred’s regiment was soon sent to the St. Louis Arsenal in Missouri.

Meanwhile, Edward Sinker discovered his son’s whereabouts and came to St. Louis to petition for a writ of habeas corpus in Federal court. Federal law prohibited the enlistment of boys under 18 without the permission of their parent or guardian.

Judge Samuel Treat found the evidence convincing, and issued this writ of habeas corpus — a court order to deliver a person from custody — to the commander of the St. Louis Arsenal. Alfred was discharged without delay.

Transcript

United States of America
Eastern District of Missouri
The President of the United States of America,

To Captain Granger, Commanding at the Arsenal of St. Louis, Missouri, and to any other person having the custody of Alfred T. Sinker.

Greeting:

You are hereby commanded that you have forthwith the body of Alfred T. Sinker, now detained and illegally restrained of his liberty by you, as it is said, together with the day and cause of his caption, detention and restraint, by whatsoever name the said Alfred T. Sinker may be held, before me, Samuel Treat, District Judge of the United States of the Eastern District of Missouri, at the Room of the United States District Court for said District, at the Custom House building, in the City of St. Louis, Missouri, in said District, to do, submit to and receive whatsoever shall be considered in that behalf concerning the said Alfred T. Sinker; and that you have then and here this writ.

Witness Samuel Treat, Judge of the District Court of the United States of the Eastern District of Missouri, this twelfth day of September, in the year of our Lord, eighteen hundred and sixty-one.

Samuel Treat
[column 1]

This original writ was served by me, Robert McDonald, and the body was delivered at once to
said McDonald to be taken before the within named Judge, without any formal return being made to the writ.

The prisoner was thereupon discharged and a certificate of his discharge granted.

[column 2]

United States of America
Eastern District of America

“Habeas Corpus” under provision of the Acts of United States Congress

The Petition alleges that said Alfred T. Sinker is a minor under sixteen years of age, and was
enlisted without the consent of his parent, guardian or master.
To the Hon. Samuel Treat
Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri

The petition of Edward T. Sinker would most respectfully represent that he is a citizen of the
state of Indiana where he resides—that on or about the 24th day of August, A.D. 1861, his son Alfred T. Sinker left his home and went to the city of Cincinnati, state of Ohio, where he enlisted in the volunteer service of the United States as a soldier in a Military Company at that time commanded by one Captain Hickson Cooper, but at the present time commanded by 1st
Lieutenant J. H. Hollinchied, said company having been removed from the state of Ohio, is now stationed in the city of St. Louis, Mo, at a Military post known as the St. Louis Arsenal, owned and occupied by the United States, and under the command and control of one Captain Granger, and by whom the body of petitioner’s son Alfred T. Sinker is now held by virtue of his enlistment and for no other
cause or reason. Your petitioner further represents that his son is still a minor of tender years,
that he is not yet sixteen years of age, and that his enlistment was entirely without the knowledge or consent of his parents or guardians, and that said enlistment according to the laws of the United States is illegal and void. Your petitioner further says that Alfred T. Sinker is his son and child born in lawful wedlock and owes service and labor to him, as his father & natural guardian and to no one else, and that he never had any other guardian but his father.

Your petitioner therefore prays your Honor will issue a writ of Habeas Corpus to the said Captain Granger commanding him to produce the body of Alfred T. Sinker together with the
cause of his detention to the end that said cause may be inquired into and that the said Alfred T. Sinker may be discharged.

Edward T. Sinker by his attorney R. S. MacDonald

United States of America
District of Missouri

Personally appeared before me the undersigned United States Commissioner for Mo District,
Edward T. Sinker who being by me duly sworn as his oath states that the foregoing petition and the matters wherein stated and true and correct.

Edward T. Sinker
Subscribed and Sworn to before me
This 12th day of September 1861
Ben O. Stickman, US Commissioner
Missouri District
This primary source comes from the Records of District Courts of the United States.
Full Citation: Writ of Habeas Corpus for Alfred T. Sinker, Including Edward Sinker's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus; 9/1861; Habeas Corpus Petitions, 1861 - 1919; Records of District Courts of the United States, ; National Archives at Kansas City, Kansas City, MO. [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/sinker-writ-of-habeas-corpus, July 10, 2020]


Writ of Habeas Corpus for Alfred T. Sinker, Including Edward Sinker's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus

Page 1



Writ of Habeas Corpus for Alfred T. Sinker, Including Edward Sinker's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus

Page 2



Writ of Habeas Corpus for Alfred T. Sinker, Including Edward Sinker's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus

Page 3



Writ of Habeas Corpus for Alfred T. Sinker, Including Edward Sinker's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus

Page 4



Writ of Habeas Corpus for Alfred T. Sinker, Including Edward Sinker's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus

Page 5



Document

Writ of Habeas Corpus for Alfred T. Sinker, Including Edward Sinker's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus

9/1861

Alfred Tarleton Sinker was just 15 years old when he enlisted in the Union army during the Civil War. Born on May 11, 1846, in Flintshire, England, Alfred immigrated to America with his parents, Edward and Sarah Sinker, at the age of four. The family settled in Indianapolis, Indiana, where Edward entered the manufacturing business.

On August 24, 1861, 15-year old Alfred left his Indianapolis home and made his way to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he lied about his age and enlisted in the 5th Independent Battery of Ohio Light Artillery on September 2. Alfred’s regiment was soon sent to the St. Louis Arsenal in Missouri.

Meanwhile, Edward Sinker discovered his son’s whereabouts and came to St. Louis to petition for a writ of habeas corpus in Federal court. Federal law prohibited the enlistment of boys under 18 without the permission of their parent or guardian.

Judge Samuel Treat found the evidence convincing, and issued this writ of habeas corpus — a court order to deliver a person from custody — to the commander of the St. Louis Arsenal. Alfred was discharged without delay.

Transcript

United States of America
Eastern District of Missouri
The President of the United States of America,

To Captain Granger, Commanding at the Arsenal of St. Louis, Missouri, and to any other person having the custody of Alfred T. Sinker.

Greeting:

You are hereby commanded that you have forthwith the body of Alfred T. Sinker, now detained and illegally restrained of his liberty by you, as it is said, together with the day and cause of his caption, detention and restraint, by whatsoever name the said Alfred T. Sinker may be held, before me, Samuel Treat, District Judge of the United States of the Eastern District of Missouri, at the Room of the United States District Court for said District, at the Custom House building, in the City of St. Louis, Missouri, in said District, to do, submit to and receive whatsoever shall be considered in that behalf concerning the said Alfred T. Sinker; and that you have then and here this writ.

Witness Samuel Treat, Judge of the District Court of the United States of the Eastern District of Missouri, this twelfth day of September, in the year of our Lord, eighteen hundred and sixty-one.

Samuel Treat
[column 1]

This original writ was served by me, Robert McDonald, and the body was delivered at once to
said McDonald to be taken before the within named Judge, without any formal return being made to the writ.

The prisoner was thereupon discharged and a certificate of his discharge granted.

[column 2]

United States of America
Eastern District of America

“Habeas Corpus” under provision of the Acts of United States Congress

The Petition alleges that said Alfred T. Sinker is a minor under sixteen years of age, and was
enlisted without the consent of his parent, guardian or master.
To the Hon. Samuel Treat
Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri

The petition of Edward T. Sinker would most respectfully represent that he is a citizen of the
state of Indiana where he resides—that on or about the 24th day of August, A.D. 1861, his son Alfred T. Sinker left his home and went to the city of Cincinnati, state of Ohio, where he enlisted in the volunteer service of the United States as a soldier in a Military Company at that time commanded by one Captain Hickson Cooper, but at the present time commanded by 1st
Lieutenant J. H. Hollinchied, said company having been removed from the state of Ohio, is now stationed in the city of St. Louis, Mo, at a Military post known as the St. Louis Arsenal, owned and occupied by the United States, and under the command and control of one Captain Granger, and by whom the body of petitioner’s son Alfred T. Sinker is now held by virtue of his enlistment and for no other
cause or reason. Your petitioner further represents that his son is still a minor of tender years,
that he is not yet sixteen years of age, and that his enlistment was entirely without the knowledge or consent of his parents or guardians, and that said enlistment according to the laws of the United States is illegal and void. Your petitioner further says that Alfred T. Sinker is his son and child born in lawful wedlock and owes service and labor to him, as his father & natural guardian and to no one else, and that he never had any other guardian but his father.

Your petitioner therefore prays your Honor will issue a writ of Habeas Corpus to the said Captain Granger commanding him to produce the body of Alfred T. Sinker together with the
cause of his detention to the end that said cause may be inquired into and that the said Alfred T. Sinker may be discharged.

Edward T. Sinker by his attorney R. S. MacDonald

United States of America
District of Missouri

Personally appeared before me the undersigned United States Commissioner for Mo District,
Edward T. Sinker who being by me duly sworn as his oath states that the foregoing petition and the matters wherein stated and true and correct.

Edward T. Sinker
Subscribed and Sworn to before me
This 12th day of September 1861
Ben O. Stickman, US Commissioner
Missouri District
This primary source comes from the Records of District Courts of the United States.
Full Citation: Writ of Habeas Corpus for Alfred T. Sinker, Including Edward Sinker's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus; 9/1861; Habeas Corpus Petitions, 1861 - 1919; Records of District Courts of the United States, ; National Archives at Kansas City, Kansas City, MO. [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/sinker-writ-of-habeas-corpus, July 10, 2020]


Writ of Habeas Corpus for Alfred T. Sinker, Including Edward Sinker's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus

Page 1



Writ of Habeas Corpus for Alfred T. Sinker, Including Edward Sinker's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus

Page 2



Writ of Habeas Corpus for Alfred T. Sinker, Including Edward Sinker's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus

Page 3



Writ of Habeas Corpus for Alfred T. Sinker, Including Edward Sinker's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus

Page 4



Writ of Habeas Corpus for Alfred T. Sinker, Including Edward Sinker's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus

Page 5