march or straggling for the purpose of pillage and plunder is an offense made punishable with death by the Articles of War. The honor of the flag and the safety of the men who faithfully discharge their duty demand that this law be enforced; and the commanding-general gives notice, absolute and positive, that this punishment will be executed upon those men, of whatever command, who violate the Army Regulations and dishonor the service by inexcusable and atrocious acts of this kind. All officers, of whatever grade, who shall allow the men under their respective command to leave the line of march or the camp without authority will be summarily and dishonorably discharged the service, as unworthy to participate in the triumphant march of this column. The army is now hundreds of miles from its base of operations, in the enemy's country. The campaign may be made one of the most creditable of the war or it may disgrace the troops and dishonor the country. The commanding general appeals to officers and men to reflect upon their position, to consider their duties, and faithfully to discharge the obligations which rest upon them, and is, for himself, determined to execute the severest sentence of military law upon those who barely betray the service and dishonor their country in this regard. Whatever property may be necessary for the support of the army or may be prostituted to support the rebellion will be taken by the Government, and due reparation will be made therefor. But we do not war upon women and children, however much and in whatever way they may have erred. Our contest is with the men and the armies of the rebellion.
Information has been received at these headquarters that the lives of officers as well as of the men of the line have been endangered by the unauthorized and criminal discharge of fire-arms by persons engaged in pillage. Notice is given to all officers and soldiers that the parties engaged in these practices will be held responsible for the consequences of their acts, and that such offenses will be punished with the severest penalties prescribed by the Articles of War. This order is not a matter of form, but will be rigidly enforced during the campaign.
Officers in every division, brigade, and regiment of this command are directed to place a rear guard for the purpose of preventing stragglers from falling to the rear of the column. Where men are sick or foot-sore, upon the certificate of the surgeon they will be allowed such conveyance or provided with such hospital accommodations as their situation may require. The captured straggler is the best source of information that the enemy possesses. A soldier who deserts his column in the face of the enemy will not hesitate to betray his comrades, and deserves the penalty which the law provides for his great wrong.
By command of Major-General Banks:
RICH'D B. IRWIN,
HDQRS. DEPT. OF THE GULF, NINETEENTH ARMY CORPS,
Opelousas, April 22, 1863.
Commanding Advance Brigade:
On your expedition you will mount negroes, as many as possible, and direct them to drive in the cattle, which is a business they understand well, and their services will relieve your troops. They can also give you much information as to the hiding places of the horses. Promise