War of the Rebellion: Serial 025 Page 0416 WEST TENN. AND NORTHERN MISS. Chapter XXIX.

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HOLLY SPRINGS, MISS., December 16, 1862.

Major General U. S. GRANT,

Commanding Department of the Tennessee:

GENERAL: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communications of the 14th instant, for which I beg leave to tender my sincere thanks.*

I shall not resume to address you again upon this subject, but in my own justification send the inclosed statement, which, if satisfactory, as i trust it will be, I am sure will afford you pleasure in my justification.

i have the honor to be, respectfully, your obedient servant,

A. S. NORTON,

Colonel Seventeenth Illinois Volunteers.

[Inclosure.]

HOLLY SPRINGS, MISS., December 16, 1862.

GENERAL: I was first charged with having permitted a flag of truce to come to my headquarters without my knowledge. This is so far true that the flag passed inside of where my pickets should have been and was approaching town before it was known to any one on duty. They were then met by the provost-marshal and sent to my quarters. The prisoners alleged to have been exchanged were three men whom it was said were arrested on the Somerville road when being in possession of a flag of truce. I know nothing of the facts. I received a communication from Colonel Richardson, a copy of which is marked A. I also inclose a copy of my reply, marked B. I had previously closely examined all of the books and papers in the provost-marshal's office and could find no charges alleged against them, and having learned you had ordered the release of others connected with the same party I thought I was doing only what you would approve in ordering their release. I at that time had no infantry pickets on the different roads through the day, but had cavalry patrols out, and at night placed infantry pickets on all of the roads and cavalry according to the inclosed instructions, marked C.*

The second time the flag came in they were brought direct to my headquarters, in charge of one non-commissioned officer and one private, from the pickets station about 1 mile from town. At each time an officer accompanied the flag. The officer in charge of the station neglected his duty in permitting the flag to come beyond the picket, but pleaded a want of knowledge of his duty on such an occasion.

I also inclose copy of dispatch, marked D, and my reply, marked E. They were immediately sent back in charge of the same escort.

the house occupied by the Confederate prisoners was vacate by sending the prisoners to Cairo. The provost-marshal informed me that the house was closed up after the prisoners left and was not entered until it was discovered to be on fire, and that the fire broke out near the roof, and he was satisfied it proceeded from a defective flue. Mrs. Millington told me a small house or shed was burned near her house, but could not inform me as to the origin of the fire. Those were the only fires which came to my knowledge. I investigated the facts as far as I could, but could learn nothing further.

At the time of the snow-storm the ordnance officer received ten

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* Not found.

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