proven as stated, but attaches no criminality thereto," viz, that the accused knowingly and willfully disobeyed the lawful command of the proper authority by accompanying the expedition down the Mississippi below Helena. The inference is that commanding officer has no right to prohibit citizens from accompanying a military expedition, or, if he does, such citizens incur no criminality by disregarding such command. The finding of the first specification, first charge, "Guilty, except the words 'thereby conveying to the enemy an approximate estimate of its strength, in direct violation of the Fifty-seventh Article of War,'" involves the principle that publication of army organization and strength in a paper having the circulation South and North of the New York Herald does not amount to an indirect conveyance of intelligence to an enemy.
I regard these two points as vital to our success as an army contending against an enemy who has every advantage of us in position and means of intelligence. I do not expect that any court-martial or any officer should do, or attempt to do, an unlawful act, but I do believe the laws of Congress and of war clearly cover both these points, and believing that the true interest of the Government and of our people demand a radical change in this respect, I avail myself of this means to invite their earnest consideration of the issues involved.
If a commanding officer cannot exclude from his camp the very class of men which an enemy would select as spies and informers, and if to prove the conveyance of indirect information to the enemy it be necessary to follow that information from its source to the very armies arrayed against us, whose country thus far our hundreds of thousand of men have been unable to invade, and yet whose newspapers are made up of extracts from these very Northern papers, then it is fruitless to attempt to conceal from them all the data they could need to make successful resistance to our plans, and to attack our detached parties and lines of communication. To this cause may well be attributed the past reverse to our armies and the failure of almost every plan devised by our generals. I believe this cause has lost us millions of money, thousands of lives, and will continues to defeat us to the end of time, unless some remedy by devised.
I am, with great respect,
W. T. SHERMAN,
Milliken's Bend, La., April 6, 1863.
Inclosed please find copy of the order of the President authorizing me to return to this department, and to remain, with General Grant's approval. General Grant has expressed his willingness to give such approval, provided there is no objection from yourself.
Without referring in detail to past occurrences, permit me to express my regret at the want of harmony between portion of the army and the press, and the hope that there may be a better feeling in future.
I should be pleased to receive your assent in the present subject-mater. The eyes of the whole North are now turned upon Vicksburg, and the history of the events soon to culminate in its fall will be watched with great eagerness.