instructions had come or could come to guide me, and I was forced to lay down certain rules for my own guidance.*
Masters and mistresses so thronged my tent as to absorb my whole time, and necessity compelled me to adopt some clearly-defined rules, and I did so. I think them legal and just. Under this order I must assume to clothe and feed those negroes,but you will observe I make no provisions for any save laboring men. The women and families take refuge here, but I cannot provide for them, but I allow no force or over persuasion in any case.
4th. Orders, Numbers 70. I had ordered at the muster of June 30 that all absentees without authority of General Halleck or myself should be reported on the muster-rolls as deserters. I see in the newspapers that the War Department had adopted the same views, only fixing the date August 18, and to put my troops on a footing with all others I have made this order. The official notice has not come to me, but I see it so universally quoted that I cannot doubt that such an order is in existence, and I infer that some accident has prevented its receipt in time to prepare the muster-rolls.*
5th. Instructions to Captain Fitch.+ On the receipt of General Grant's telegraphic order about vacant houses and the leases of absent rebels I gave it to Captain Fitch, post quartermaster, with a few instructions. But as he progressed so many points of law and policy arose that he was embarrassed and called on me for further instructions. I made them in the form of a letter, which I authorized him to publish that all the parties might judge for themselves. This has quieted the great mass, but still cases are daily referred to me of the most delicate nature, one of which I inclose with this-the letter of Mrs. Lizzie A. Merwether, # whose husband is in the rebel service, and who remained under your orders permitting such ladies to remain on taking or making a parole. I venture to express the opinion that in war the parole of a woman or citizen is not good. From them an oath should be exacted, for the parole is a word of honor which, according to the old Federal code, a soldier alone could make; but apart from this it seems by here own statement her husband deeded this property to her then rebelled against his Government, and by the fortunes of war now finds himself under one government and his wife another. In either event the property is safe, let which party prevail. Mrs. Merwether is a lady and has small children dependent on her in the absence of her husband; but Captain Fitch, under my orders or rather these printed instructions, construed the property to be substantially that of the absent husband and orders the tenants of the property to pay the rents to him.
I think in law and common sense the transfer of property to a wife at such a time and under such circumstances is simply an evasion, and therefore void, but am willing to stretch the rules as wide as possible to favor distressed women and children, although I fear a single departure from the rules of severe justice may lead us into many inconsistencies and absurd conclusions.
6th. I finally inclose a copy of a letter from General Pillow, addressed to S. P. Walker, esq., of this city, and designed for General Grant and myself. It did not come under a flag of truce,m but one of the secret mails which I have not yet succeeded in breaking up. I also inclose a copy of my answer, which I will hand to Mr. Walker and allow him to send as he best may. I do not consider my answer as strictly official, as the matters inquired about are as to the situation of his private property. I have published General Grant's order, based on the one from
*See pp. 158, 165.
+See p. 156.