War of the Rebellion: Serial 021 Page 0551 Chapter XXVII. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.-UNION.

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us. It is also stated that the mayor of Bayou Sara has been ordered (in case he cannot procure negroes) to impress all able-bodied white persons for the purpose of loading coal upon the boats of the United States fleet.

It has been the earnest desire of the Confederate authorities to conduct this war according to the usages of civilized nations, and they will adhere to them so long as they are respected by the United States.

I am authorized by Major-General Van Dorn, commanding this department, to inform you that the above acts are regarded as in violation of the usage of civilized warfare, and that in future, upon any departure from these usages, he will raise the black flag, and neither give nor ask quarter.

I have the honor to request an answer to his communication, informing me of your future purposes touching the acts herein complained of.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Major-General, Commanding, C. S. A.


Major General JOHN C. BRECKINRIDGE, C. S. A.:

GENERAL: In reply to your communication of this date I have the honor to make the following statement:

None of the acts therein referred to have been committed to my knowledge in this part of the United States under the orders of our officers. No private houses have been wantonly burned. Since your attack of the 5th instant disclosed your purpose to drive this army from the public property of the United States I have determined to adopt such measures as will enable me, in strict accordance with the laws of civilized warfare, to maintain my present position. The accomplishment of this purpose compels me reluctantly to burn a small number of houses, including those of the United States Government and of private persons. While it is not impossible that through mistake injustice has been done in individual cases, and although the vigilance of officers may not always suffice to prevent wrong on the part of subordinates, yet I believe that no unarmed citizen has been seized or carried into imprisonment upon false or frivolous pretexts. No negro slaves have been armed against you in this department.

I have no information respecting the order alleged to have been issued to the mayor of Bayou Sara.

In future I shall permit no wanton destruction of private property. I shall permit no unarmed citizens to be seized upon false or frivolous pretexts. I shall not arm negroes unless in accordance with the laws of the United States. But I am informed that a corps of blacks fought against us in the recent battle of Baton Rouge, and that our pickets were found tied to trees shot through the head, and I am sorry to remind you that a most barbarous system of guerrilla warfare is authorized by your officers and practiced by your troops in this department. While we saved your drowning men at Memphis, you shot ours at White River.

I am informed, too, that you have occasionally raised the black flag at the commencement of an action. Nevertheless I shall never raise that flag which all civilized nations abhor; but I shall try to maintain the flag which you have too often promised to defend.

Your obedient servant,


Colonel, Commanding United States Forces.