HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE RAPPAHANNOCK,
Front Royal, Va., June 3, 1862.
There has been recently so much irregularity on the subject of levying contributions, and so much misconception on the part of many commanders and other officers as to their powers and duties in this respect, that it has became necessary to call the attention of all concerned to the subject, to the end that the gross abuses which have been committed may cease.
Paragraph 491, Army Regulations.-"When the wants of the Army absolutely require it, and in other cases under special instructions from the War Department, the general commanding the Army may levy contributions in money or kind in the enemy's country occupied by troops. No other commander can levy such contributions without written authority from the general commander-in-chief."
This paragraph applies to domestic as well as to foreign enemies. No other commander than the general-in-chief of an army can levy contributions without the written authority from said general-in-chief. Yet not only do other commanders, but corporals and privates even undertake to assume the power without authority from any one. Such conduct is simple pillage, theft, or robbery. When in the judgment of the major-general commanding the wants of the army under his command require it, he will exercise-as he has already most freely done-this extraordinary power, and will prescribe fully by whom, when, in what way, to what extent, and in what nature these contributions shall be levied. The allowance of the Government to the Army, issued through the quartermaster's and subsistence departments, are to be obtained by commanders, by requisitions on the proper officers of these department; and if they have not the supplies to meet these requisitions they will apply to their superiors in the department, and the articles will be furnished, if on hand, if the requisition be approved, or means will be taken to procure them. No one has the right to take private property for public uses than those whom the major-general commanding may authorize. Those who take for private uses will be tried by a military commission for stealing. Commanders are especially enjoined to protect growing crops, and not suffer them to be trodden down save in cases of manifest necessity. No one has a right to enter private houses, and thus disturb non-combatants, women, and children. The above, without in any way wishing to seem even to interfere or suggest to others the course to be pursued in respect in respect to the subject here in question, will apply t the troops of the Department of the Rappahannock, whether within or beyond the department limit.
By command of Major-General McDowell:
DEPARTMENT OF THE RAPPAHANNOCK,
This certifies that there has been received from the farm of-- -- the following military supplies: --. Such supplies will be accounted for on the property returns of-- --, quartermaster, U. S. Army, for the quarter of --. The owner of said property will be entitled to be paid for the same after the suppression of the rebellion, upon proof that he has, from this date, conducted himself as a loyal citizen of the United States, and has not given aid or comfort to the rebels.
Done under authority of -- --.
The recorder here stated to the court that he believed he had as much matter as he would have time to record.
The court authorized the recorder to employ a citizen as clerk at a daily compensation to be fixed at a future period.
The recorder was directed to summon Professor Theft, now or late chaplain of a Massachusetts regiment, whose name has been communicated to the court as having knowledge of facts inculpating General McDowell.
The court adjourned to meet on Monday, December 1, 1862, at 11 o'clock a. m.