SAINT LOUIS, January 11, 1862.
Colonel FRED. STEELE,
COLONEL: Yours of the 9th is just received. I entirely disapprove of the release of prisoners of war on their parole to go where they please. Most of them do not keep their parole at all, and merely serve as spies about our lines and get up insurrections. This is especially the case with " Virginia gentlemen' of the class you refer to. They pay no regard whatever to their oath of allegiance. All prisoners of war-that is, taken in arms or in the enemy's service-should be held as such, and not allowed to leave camp. This taking of prisoners and releasing them over again is all wrong; it is time to end it. All such men should be sent here, where they can be retained or exchanged.
Such men as the Washington and Magoffins are not proper persons for release.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. W. HALLECK,
SAINT LOUIS, January 4, 1862.
Colonel L. F. ROSS,
Commanding Gape Girardeau, Mo.:
COLONEL: I have delayed answering your letter of December 23, in relation to General Watkins, in order to obtain certain information which I have been expecting about General W. [Watkins
and others in that port of the country.
Very many of those who have returned from the enemy and given their parole have acted as spies on our operations, giving the enemy all the information they could obtain, assisting in getting up insurrections, and planning the burning of bridges, &c. It is therefore necessary to observe due precaution in this matter.
If General Watkins has been in the enemy's service, either State or Confederate, he must come back in one of two capacities-either as a prisoner of war as a citizen returning to his allegiance. If he returns as a prisoner of war, he may be released on his parole of honor that he will remain quietly on his farm, giving no information or assistance of any kind to the enemy, and that he will present himself at your post or any other when called for.
If he returns as a loyal citizen, he certainly cannot object to taking the oath of allegiance. Such oath will not, as a general rule, be required of men who have not been in the enemy's service or have in no way assisted the enemy, although they may have been in the Confederate States. For example, secessionists here in Saint Louis have not been required to take any oath of allegiance; but if they have been in the enemy's service, and now wish to return to their allegiance, they are invariably required to take oath and sometimes to give additional security.
If General Watkins should decide to take the oath all stock taken from him should be returned. With regard to his slaves, if any are in your camp as fugitives, they are so held in positive violation of General Orders, Numbers 3, of 1861, unless such slaves were taken in virtue of the act of Congress. Except in the case provided for by Congress troops should be permitted neither to steal slaves nor to catch and return