HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT NORTH MISSOURI,
Saint Louis, August 25, 1861.
Major General JOHN C. FREMONT,
Commanding Department of the West, Saint Louis, Mo.:
GENERAL: In view of my conversation with you this morning, I have the honor to report as follows:
The policy of making the people along the lines of railroad in North Missouri responsible for breaches of peace enlists by the only method possible the active agency of the secessionists in keeping down riots and disturbances. When so large a portion of the population sympathizes with the authors of the atrocious acts of guerrilla warfare which have hitherto disgraced North Missouri, it is impossible to apprehend the perpetrators of such outrages. Since the population has been notified that their property would be made to pay the expense has been notified that their property would be made to pay the expense of suppressing such disturbances, thousands of persons have taken an active part in preventing them who never did so before. Marion County, from which came the protests against his policy, has been the worst county in the State. At the request of a deputation from that county, it was relieved from the first levy made for firing into a train county, it was relieved from the first levy made for firing into a train on the Hannibal and Saint Joseph road, but the troops which had been quartered at Palmyra had not proceeded 3 miles from the place before the train carrying them was fired into from the road-side, and one man killed and several wounded. They are now under contribution for this second and aggravated charge.
I have received intelligence from persons of character in most of the counties of North Missouri stating that this policy alone, and the fear of the penalty to property prescribed in it, prevents the secessionists from driving out Union men and destroying their property. The secession papers in North Missouri are now entreating the population to preserve the peace, because the leading State-rights men (secessionists) are made to serve on committees of safety against their will, and their property is made responsible for any violence or breach of peace committed by their friends. Whenever it is discovered that the penalty set forth will not be executed, I firmly believe that every county in North Missouri will be in a state of tumult, and will require for the restoration of peace five times the force now needed. It is possible that some lukewarm Union men may turn secessionists under the operations of this policy, but it is my sure conviction that if it be not enforced thousands of good Union men will be driven from their homes and their property despoiled. By enforcing it in Marion County, the only place it has been necessary to do so, I feel sure there will result quiet in that section of country. Where outrages are so expensive, they will not be repeated. The system of pursuing the perpetrators of these outrages can lead to no good results while so large a body of people sympathize with them. It only effect is to break down and demoralize our forces, to carry distress and apprehension to districts hitherto quiet, and to render our forces less and less fit for service.
I do not doubt, from the results up to this time, that the policy of holding property responsible is the true policy, and I firmly believe that if the penalty now hanging over Marion County be rigidly enforced, there will be no occasion for anything of the kind there or elsewhere a second time. I therefore respectfully, but earnestly, request you to suffer this penalty to be exacted, lest a much worse thing befall that