War of the Rebellion: Serial 025 Page 0860 Chapter XXIX. WEST TENN. AND NORTHERN MISS.

Search Civil War Official Records


Memphis, November 7, 1862.


DEAR MADAM: Your letter of October-was duly received. I did not answer it at that time, as I had already instructed Colonel Anthony, provost-marshal, to suspend the execution of the order expelling certain families from Memphis, for fifteen days, to enable them to confer with the Confederate authorities upon the cause of that order, viz, the firing from ambush on our boats carrying passengers and merchandise by bands of guerrillas in the service of our enemies.

In war it is impossible to hunt up the actual perpetrators of a crime. Those who are banded together in any cause are held responsible for all the acts of their associates. The Confederate Government, in resisting what we claim to be the rightful prerogative and authority of our Government, by armies in the field and bands of armed men called guerrillas or partisan rangers, claims for these latter all the rights of war, which means that the Confederate Government assumes the full responsibility of the acts of these Partisan Rangers. These men have, as you know, fired on steamboats navigating the Mississippi River, taking the accustomed way, in no wise engaged in the operations of war. We regard this as inhuman and barbarous, and if the Confederate authorities do not disavow them, it amounts to a sanction and encougement of the practice. We must stop this, and no measures would be too severe. The absolute destruction of Memphis, New Orleans, and every city, town, and hamlet of the South would not be too severe a punishment to a people for attempting to interfere with the navigation of the Mississippi. I have commenced mildly by requiring the families of men engaged in this barbarous practice to leave and go to their own people. Certainly there can be no hardship for the wife and children going to their own husbands and families. They ought to be glad of the opportunity, and the measure, instead of being severe, is very mild. How would they like it if we were to fire through the houses of their wives and families, as they do through the boats carrying our wives and families? If any person will look at this question who feels for our people, he or she will perceive that the measure of retaliation is mild, and I do not promise by any means that in future cases I will be so easy. Misplaced kindness to these guerrillas, their families, and adherents in cruelty to our people. Were you to travel on a boat and have the bullets whistle and hear the demon yells of these Confederate partisans, you would not feel so kindly disposed to those who approve the act.

I have given them time to disavow the attack on the Gladiator; they have not done it. They therefore approve, and I say not only shall the families go away, but all the Confederate allies and adherents shall feel the power of an indignant Government.

I am, &c.,




Memphis, November 8, 1862.

Major General U. S. GRANT,

Commanding Department of West Tennessee, La Grange, Tenn.:

DEAR GENERAL: Yours of November 6, from La Grange, was brought to me by Captain Newell, Third Michigan Cavalry, last night, he having