OFFICE OF JUDGE-ADVOCATE-GENERAL, April 15, 1864.
To the PRESIDENT:
Captain John H. Paynter, of Company A; Second Lieutenant E. J. Burross, of Company E, and Second Lieutenant Luther D. Potter, of Company L, of Sixth Missouri Cavalry, were found guilty, by general court-martial convened at Saint Louis, Mo., the 9th of January, 1864, of mutiny; of being present at a mutiny, and not using their utmost endeavors to suppress the same; of coming to the knowledge of an intended mutiny, and not giving information thereof, without delay, to their commanding officer; of offering violence to their superior officer in the execution of his office; of conduct to the prejudice of good and military discipline, and of disobedience of orders.
They were severally sentenced to be dismissed the service of the United States.
From the records of the trials of these officers, it appears that the Second Battalion Sixth Missouri Cavalry, to which they were attacked, was, on the 22nd October, 1863, stationed at Bloomfield, Mo., under the command of Major Samuel Montgomery, who commanded the post; and that, from rumors in from the adjacent country that the post was surrendered by the rebels and that a body of rebel troops, 500 strong, was advancing on the post to attack it, the commissioned officers of the battalion appear to have been impressed with the belief that the command was in great danger of betrayal and surrender to the enemy by Major Montgomery; and on the evening of 21st October, 1863, held a meeting for consultation with each other, at which they unanimously determined to place the major in arrest, and to report the state of facts to headquarters as speedily as possible.
On the next morning (22nd October), Major Montgomery received notice from Captain W. H. Crockett, of Company D, that he was under arrest, and, on going to the door of his quarters, found the troops drawn up in line. A guard of 4 men from each company was detailed and posted by Captain Paynter, with instructions to prevent the major from passing out from his quarters. A guard, too, was placed in the telegraph room of the headquarters, with orders to prevent the operator from sending any message without orders from Captain Crockett. While these circumstances were occurring, Major Montgomery was in conversation with Captain Crockett, in the course of which he said," Captain, there is no use of this thing. If you will disperse your men, I will give you time about on the telegraph to inform Colonel Rogers of this matter, and await his orders." Colonel Rogers was then at Cape Girardeau, and in communication by telegraph. On reiterating this assurance, the major was told by Captain Crockett that it was satisfactory, and the troops were immediately dispersed to their quarters. It does not appear that any act of violence was committed or threatened, nor that Major Montgomery was really subjected to personal restraint, for at the moment when arrangements were made for such restraint the whole difficultly was accommodated, and the guard discharged.
The circumstances set forth in the testimony as tending to palliate the very grave offense of which these officers were found guilty are these;
1st. His allowing, indiscriminately, rebel deserters, large numbers of whom came into the post from day to day, to return to their homes, without requiring them to take any oath or give any bond for their future loyalty, saying, when remarks were made to him on the subject,