boats Continental and J. H. Dickey, neither of which had on board a single soldier, except a reserve guard, or any Government stores. Both were loaded with goods for the use of the people of West Tennessee, who come to Memphis for the articles they deem necessary for the lives and comfort of their families, as also for the use of the inhabitants of Memphis itself. Now we present the anomalous fact that in Memphis reside the wives and children of hundreds of men who, under (as we think) a misguided belief that we are enemies and invaders, are in arms against us. For my part I am unwilling longer to protect the families and property of men who fire from ambush upon our soldiers whether on the river banks or the road-side, and I shall gradually compel such families to go forth and seek their husbands and brothers. I will permit them to carry away their household goods and servants, thereby reducing to that extent the necessity for providing for them at our markets. You may style this cruel and barbarous, but I know my heart, and have no hesitation in saying to the Southern men, women, or children, I will give all the help and assistance I can; that I respect their maternal and legal rights as much as you do; but I will also respect the lies and rights of others who pursue a lawful and common right to navigate the Mississippi River, which is not yours. We are willing to meet you anywhere and everywhere in manly fight, but to the assassin who fires from the river bank on an unarmed boat we will not accord the title, name, or consideration of an honorable soldier. You may carry word to your guerrillas or rangers that when they fire on any boat they are firing on their own Southern people, for such travel on every boat, and if that does not influence them you may trust to our ingenuity to devise a remedy; for every grade of offense there is a remedy.
We profess to know what civilized warfare is and has been for hundreds of years, and cannot accept your construction of it. If, as you threaten in your letter, you hang an officer, a prisoner in your hands, in retaliation of some act of ours, conjured up by false statements of interested parties, remember that we have hundreds of thousands of men bitter and yearning for revenge. Let us but loose these from the restraints of discipline, and no life or property would be safe in the regions where we do hold possession and power. You initiate the game, and my word for it your people will regret it long after on pass from earth.
We are willing to restrict our operations as far as may be to the acts of war controlled by educated and responsible officers, but if you or those who acknowledge your power think otherwise, we must accept the issue.
My command, as you know, does not embrace Arkansas, but I will not allow the firing on boats from the Arkansas shore to go unnoticed.
I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,
W. T. SHERMAN,
OCTOBER 17, 1862.
Colonel T. L. CRAWFORD, Jefferson City, Mo.:
Dash down on; arrest all the leading secesh, and hurry them from their homes. Give out the assurance that another attack on a boat will burn the town.
SAML. R. CURTIS,