railroads in this State. A plot was discovered on the 20th ultimo to burn all the bridges in the State and at the same time to fire this city. Fortunately a part of the intended mischief was prevented. This is not usually done by armed and open enemies, but be pretended quiet citizens, living on their farms. A bridge or building is set on fire, and the culprit an hour after is quietly plowing or working in his field. The civil courts can give us no assistance, as they are very generally unreliable. There is no alternative but to enforce martial law. Our army here is almost as much in a hostile country as it was when in Mexico.
I have determined to put down these insurgents and bridge-burners with a strong hand. It must be done; there is no other remedy. If I am sustained by the Government and country, well and good; if not, I will take the consequences.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. W. HALLECK,
HDQRS. DEPT. OF THE MISSOURI, Numbers 1.
Saint Louis, January 1, 1862.
I. In carrying on war in a portion of country occupied or threatened to be attacked by an enemy, whether within or without the territory of the United States, crimes and military offenses are frequently committed which are not triable or punishable be courts-martial and which are not within the jurisdiction of any existing civil court. Such cases, however, must be investigated and the guilty parties punished. The good of society and the safety of the army imperiously demand this. They must therefore be taken cognizance of by the military power; but, except in cases of extreme urgency, a military commander should not himself attempt to decide upon the guilt or innocence of individuals. On the contrary, it is the usage and custom of war among all civilized nations to refer such cases to a duly-constituted military tribunal, composed of reliable officers, who, acting under the solemnity of on oath and the responsibility always attached to a court of record, will examine witnesses, determine the guilt or innocence of the parties accused, and fix the punishment. This is usually done by courts-martial; but in our country these courts have a very limited jurisdiction, both in regard to persons and offenses. Many classes of persons cannot be arraigned before such courts for any offense whatsoever, and many crimes committed, even by military officers, enlisted men, or camp retainers, cannot be tried under the Rules and Articles of War. Military commissions must be resorted to for such cases, and these commissions should be ordered by the same authority, be constituted in a similar manner, and their proceedings be conducted according to the same general rules as courts-martial, in order to prevent abuses which might otherwise arise.
II. As much misapprehension has arisen in this department in relation to this subject the following rules are published for the information of all concerned:
1st. Military commissions can be ordered only by the General-in-Chief of the Army or by the commanding officer of the department, and the proceedings must be sent to Headquarters for revision.
2nd. They will be composed of not less than three members, one of whom will act as judge-advocate and recorder, where no officer is des-