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John M. Binckley to L. H. Chandler, 7 November 1867

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November 7, 1867. L. H. Chandler, Esq. United States Attorney, Norfolk Va. Sir: I enclose a copy of a decree of the United States District Court for the District of Virginia, in the matter of the application of William E. Wood, for the satisfaction of his claims against the Government by reason of the appropriation of his lands for the purpose of a National Cemetery. This was furnished by the Secretary of War ad interim, together with a copy of a report to him from the office of the Quartermaster General, and an official statement of the costs of suit from the clerk of the Court, copies of which I also enclose herewith. You will observe that in the opinion of the local quartermaster, the appraising Commissioners were irregularly appointed, that their assessment is exorbitantly high, and that, in other respects, the award and decree are unsatisfactory. In view of these supposed defects, the Secretary of War, ad interim, has requested the Attorney General to instruct you thus, viz.: "To proceed, on behalf of this Department, to have the award,—regarded as extravagant and unjust—reöpened, and a new commission, (upon which the interests of the Government shall be represented,) ordered; Also, that upon the final decree, he cause the bill of costs to be duly taxed, so that this Department shall not be called upon to pay any improper or unusual charges." The statute under which this proceeding seems to have been conducted, is the "Act to establish and protect National Cemeteries," approved 22 February, 1867. Public Acts, No. 37. The fourth, fifth, and sixth sections of this Act point out the procedure. Any Circuit or District Court of the United States is authorized and required, at the instance either of the owner of the land, or the government, to make a "just and equitable" appraisement, "in such mode, and under such rule and regulations, as it may adopt." No express provision is made for appeal. The Attorney General directs me to instruct you to take diligently whatever steps you may find practicable in conformity to the request of the War Department. Respectfully Your obedient servant, John M. Binckley Assistant Atty Gen'l. [Copies of Documents sent with above.]
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