seem requisite. It is, however, one of the strange incidents of this most anomalous contest that in the interests of humanity some such arrangement ought to be entered into. This is not said to give offense.
I hope to saw what needs to be said in my communication to you in words that will not be offensive and in a temper worthy of the subject. I protest to you that I desire nothing more sincerely than that in all respects this war shall be relieved of whatever tends to make it barbarous. I trust to be met by a similar disposition on your part. Certain positions assumed and acts committed by commanding officers of Federal troops, if persisted in, must not only aggravate the evils inseparable from a state of war, but deprive it of every feature that mitigates those evils. It is insisted that persons not in uniform who may commit acts of hostility against the United States and are captured when operating singly or in small bodies will not be treated as prisoners of war, but as "guerrillas," and if found within the Federal lines "as spies." This ground is taken both by Major-General Sherman and Brigadier-General Totten in their letters to Major-General Hindman, copies of which are inclosed.* It is declared by your President in his late proclamation that the "Government of the United States," including the military and naval authorities thereof, will do no act or acts to repress "slaves in 'rebel States'" in any efforts they may make for actual freedom. With the evident purpose to enable slaves to make such "efforts" arms have been furnished them by Federal officers in Eastern Arkansas. Looking at these matters as calmly as the facts will admit of, I can see but one result of the course which the Federal Government and its officers are thus adopting. That result is-a war of extermination. Such a war is declared against us when the privileges of prisoners of war are denied our people not in uniform and when the same discrimination is made against them when operating singly or in small bodies. We cannot be expected to allow our enemies to decide for us whether we shall fight them in masses or individually, in uniform, without, uniform, openly or from ambush. Our forefathers and yours conceded no such right to the British in the first Revolution, and we cannot concede it to you in this. If you go to the extreme which the British threatened, of putting our men to death for refusing to conform to your notions, we shall be driven, as Washington avowed that he would be, to retaliate man for man. The war of extermination thus declared against the men of the South is infinitely more such a war when extended to the women and children of the South. The proclamation of your President apparently contemplates, and the act of your officers in putting arms in the hands of slaves seems to provide for, even that extremity. It cannot in such a situation be expected that we will remain passive, quietly acquiescing in a war of extermination against us, without waging a similar war in return. But all the instincts of our nature, the lessons of our education, and the teachings of our religion are against an alternative so truly horrible. I conjure you not to force it upon us. The shedding of innocent blood, the outrage upon helpless women and children, the utter ruin of society that such a war must produce will render its authors eternally infamous and ought to call down the blighting vengeance of Heaven upon them. I am resolved that such infamy shall not justly attach to me. I am resolved that such infamy shall not justly attach to me. My Government is determined that no such stain shall be put upon it. Nevertheless, protecting against the necessity, the issue will be met as sternly as it is tendered if the doctrines and practices which I have referred to are not disavowed. Hoping such disavowal may be made by you, I have at the same time
*Probably Totten's of September 17 and Sherman's of September 28, pp. 647, 682.