to Mr. Murrow, acting agent of the Seminoles, in reply to certain inquiries made by him in regard to martial law, &c. I respectfully ask that it be submitted to the President, and that I may be informed if the views therein expressed meet his approbation and that of the War Department.
I am, sir, your obedient servant,
Brigadier-General, Commanding Dept. of Indian Territory.
HDQRS. DEPARTMENT OF INDIAN TERRITORY,
Fort Washita, Ind. Ter., October 25, 1862.
J. S. MURROW, Esq.,
Confederate States Agent for the Seminoles:
SIR: You have inquired of men in regard to the powers of provost-marshals in the Seminole country, and have desired to know whether it is my intention to appoint any. It is not. I have in a prior letter said a few words on this subject of provost-marshals, but upon reflecting that you will desire something more satisfactory than the brief words I there used, I conclude, in a moment of leisure, to give you my opinion, still briefly but yet more fully. First, however, read the message of the President communicating to Congress the letter of the Secretary of War, printed copies of which I inclose, * and you will see, first, that all appointments of provost-marshal made by General Hindman as in command of the Trans-Mississippi district, or by anybody else under him as such commanding general, were simply null and void, because he never was in command by any rightful authority; and second, that General Holmes was sent out with orders to rescind his declaration of martial law and all the regulations adopted to carry it into effect. If they had not all been already null and void, the order would of itself have annulled them all if General Holmes never rescinded anything. There is no unwritten martial law. The only laws we have or can have until the Constitution is destroyed are the civil and criminal laws of the land, found in and adopted by the statutes, and the military laws written in the Articles of War, acts of Congress in respect to military affairs, and Regulations adopted by the War Department and not inconsistent with the Constitution and laws. We have not even adopted the English mutiny act or equivalent for it. Whenever the will of a commanding general shall become law over persons not in the military service the civil government will have been deposed, the constitutions, State and national, be subverted, and the State be simply an empire, with him as imperator or emperor. Why cannot men reflect that imperator commander is a military title, and that the powers lately usurped by Generals Bragg. Van Dorn, and Hindman in Mississippi, Arkansas, and the Indian country are the same as those were than Caesar usurped, and that Caesar himself, imperator and king as he really was, never placed on his head the crown offered by Antony, nor even called himself emperor, but only general; or, if imperator, only in a strictly military sense. There is no such thing as martial law in the sense in which it is popularly used. There is no martial law in our country except the written law. There can be none until Congress makes new laws; and every general who has made his will the law, who has defined and provided the punishment for offenses, who has transferred
* See Series IV, Vol I.