War of the Rebellion: Serial 025 Page 0872 Chapter XXIX. WEST TENN. AND NORTHERN MISS.

Search Civil War Official Records

true, retaliation will be made on prisoners, unless the murderers are punished.

The case, sir, is very plainly before you; there is not a shadow of doubt that the account of the murder is true, and I await your decision at to who shall suffer the penalty.

I have directed Major General Earl Van Dorn to forward this communication through flag of truce.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. C. PEMBERTON,

Lieutenant-General, Commanding.

[Inclosure Numbers 2.]

HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF MEMPHIS,

Memphis, Tenn., November 18, 1862.

Lieutenant General J. C. PEMBERTON,

Commanding Confederate Forces, Jackson, Miss.:

SIR: Your letter of November 12, dated Jackson, Miss., is before me. General Grant commands the department which embraces Memphis, and I will send him your letter, that he may answer it according to the interests and honor of the Government of the United States.

You recite the more aggravated parts of the story of Mrs. White, concerning the killing of her husband by a party of the Sixth Illinois Cavalry, but you do not recite the attending circumstances.

In the early part of September last the public highway hence to Hernando was infested by a parcel of men who burned the cotton of the people and depredated on their property. A party of the Sixth Illinois Cavalry was sent to capture them, but on approach they fled and only 10 prisoners were taken. They were dispatched back toward Memphis in charge of a lieutenant and 10 men. As this party was on the road near White's, they were fired on from ambush. The lieutenant and the Confederate soldier at his side were killed, one or more wounded, and the party scattered. As soon as the intelligence reached the camp of the Sixth Illinois Cavalry, in memphis, Captain Boicourt started to the rescue, with a small detachment of his men. On the way out they met the dead body of the lieutenant being brought in, punctured by six balls, from which the story was started of barbarous treatment, viz, his being shot while lying on the ground. They also heard enough to connect the people of the neighborhood with this firing from ambush and mutilating their dead lieutenant, the taking of White, the accusation of his being concerned, his resistance, his attempt to escape, and all matters asserted and denied; and no one deplores more than I do that you have torn to pieces the fabric of our Government, so that such acts should ever occur, or, if they did, that they should not be promptly punished. White's house is almost on the line between Mississippi and Tennessee, but this affair occurred on the Mississippi side of the line. If the State of Mississippi was in condition and should make due inquiry, and demand the parties for a fair trail, there would be some appearance of law and justice; but what shadow of right you have to inquire into the matter, I don't see.

White was not a Confederate soldier, not even a guerrilla, and some contend that he was a good Union man. I assert that his killing was unfortunate, but was the legitimate and logical sequence of the mode of warfare chosen by the Confederate Government-by means of guerrillas or partisan rangers.

Captain Boicourt has answered for his conduct to the Government of the United States, and, it may be, will to the civil authorities of Missis-