the civil power in the Union State of Kentucky; if so, why, and to what extent? Whether the forcible detention of certain slaves belonging to Union citizens of Kentucky within the lines of regiments under your command was authorized,and whether the same will be hereafter sanctioned or authorized and, if so, under what law, and for what purpose? Also requesting you to furnish the names of slaves so detained, and the regiment in which each is detained. If I have been correctly informed in regard to the matters mentioned in said resolution, I must say that I think there was little occasion for the meeting of the citizens of Fayette County, called to give public expression to their supposed grievances; yet I am ready to believe that their object was peaceful and patriotic; prompted solely as they were by a desire to prevent possible collision between citizens and the military in matters in which strong antagonistic feelings are supposed to exist. Admitting this, I can assure the citizens of Fayette County that the forces which are now in Kentucky for its protection,and for the defense of the Union against the assaults of the rebels,shall be,as far as its officers are concerned, the conservators of the civil powers. I may confidently point to the general conduct of our forces as proof of this disposition on the part of both officers and men. Every assurance to this effect has been given, and the admission in the resolution that the complaints apply to only "a few of the regiments" is good evidence of this fact.
While admitting, without hesitation, the purity of the motives which prompted the citizens of Fayette County to adopt this resolution, I am very anxious to learn " under what law and for what purpose" they called upon you to furnish them the names of the slaves in each regiment,and the regiment in which each is detained.
You may assure the committee of the popular assemblage that,so far as I am concerned, no law of Kentucky, not in contravention of the laws of Congress, shall be violated; that any force at my command shall be ready to serve to preserve law and order at the call of the Executive of Kentucky, but that no regiment or officers of my command shall be required by my orders to hunt up runaway negroes. The "sober second thought" will show our friends in Kentucky that this is not to be expected or desired from us. You can further assure them, on my part, should this necessary, that so long as the civil power is in operation the military shall be subservient to it. This is not only in accordance with the spirit of our institutions, but is in obedience to the doctrines taught us in the military code. The civil power is supreme.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. G. WRIGHT,
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
December 15, 1862
Major-General H. W. HALLECK, General-in-Chief.
GENERAL: I find in the Louisville Journal, of the 12th instant,a narration, to which I wish to call your attention, in connection with my communication of the 13th.
Scott County, Tennessee, is in my own district, and the names and localities are perfectly familiar. From that small county have gone many soldiers, now in our service, leaving their homes to such devastation as is here described. Oh, Lord, how long?
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,