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The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

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OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 11, Part 3 (Peninsular Campaign)

which properly belongs to us. For their effectiveness I refer to the enemy.

Believing as I do the vast advantages to our country to be gained from this invention I am unwilling to forego it, and beg leave to appeal direct to the War Department.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, &c.,


Brigadier-General, Commanding Brigade in the Field, near Richmond.

Respectfully forwarded.

In my opinion all means of destroying our brutal enemies are lawful and proper.



[The foregoing papers, Sorrel to Rains and Rains' indorsement, also Mason to Hill, p. 511, and Rains to Hill, p. 516, were considered by the Secretary of War, who indorsed thereon the following:]


Whether shells planted in roads or parapets are contrary to the usages of war depends upon the purpose with which they are used.

It is not admissible in civilized warfare to take life with no other object than the destruction of life. Hence it is inadmissible to shoot sentinels and pickets, because nothing is attained but the destruction of life. I would be admissible, however, to shoot a general, because you not only take life but deprive an army of its head.

It is admissible to plant shells in a parapet to repel an assault or in a road to check pursuit, because the object is to save work in one case and the army in the other.

It is not admissible to plant shells merely to destroy life and without other design than that of depriving your enemy of a few men, without materially injuring him.

It is admissible to plant torpedoes in a river or harbor, because they drive off blockading or attacking fleets.

As Generals Rains and Longstreet differ in this matter, the inferior in rank should give way, or, if he prefers it, he may be assigned to the river defenses, where such things are clearly admissible.


RICHMOND, VA., May 12, 1862-4 a. m.


Commanding Army of Northern Virginia:

GENERAL: Your letter of 10.30 p. m. May 10, 1862, has just been received. I must suppose that some of my letters to you have miscarried.

The army on the Rappahannock is located on the line on which you placed it. General Jackson in the in the valley General Ewell in the direction of Gordonsville, and General J. R. Anderson, senior officer, with the troops near Fredericksburg, in the vicinity of that city. General Jackson has been moved to General Edward Johnson, and General Ewell has been called by him to Swift Run Gap. General Anderson is on the Massaponax Hills, south of Fredericksburg.

The enemy is in front of each of these divisions, and reported to be in greater strength either. That opposite Fredericksburg, by last

OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 11, Part 3 (Peninsular Campaign)
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