WASHINGTON, December 24, 1862.
Major-General CURTIS, Saint Louis, Mo.:
Columbus is reported as in danger of an attack. Re-enforce it with your available forces. The movement must be prompt.
H. W. HALLECK,
SAINT LOUIS, December 24, 1862 - 4 p. m.
I am doing all I possibly can for Columbus.
SAML. R. CURTIS.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE MISSOURI,
Saint Louis, December 24, 1862.*
[Major General T. H. HOLMES:]
GENERAL: Yours of the 7th instant, containing slips from the Memphis Appeal of the 3rd ultimo, containing an account, purporting to be derived from the Palmyra (Missouri) Courier, of the murder of ten Confederate citizens of Missouri, by order of General McNeil, of the U. S. Army, and also saying you are instructed to ascertain from me "whether the facts are as stated," and requesting me to give you "full information in regard to the circumstances related," is duly received.
General McNeil is a State general, and his column was mainly State troops. The matter therefore never come to my official notice. His proceedings seem to have been a kind of policy resentment against citizens of Missouri who had violated paroles and engaged in robbery and murder, and has only been presented by such newspaper reports as you have sent me. I transmit to you a slip from the Palmyra Courier of the 12th instant, signed by William R. Strachan, provost-marshal, which further described the affair, but I am not so informed of the facts as to say whether the slips are true or false. Being thus explained by the provost-marshal, i am not disposed to meddle with it, and am not therefore authorized to admit or deny, justify or condemn. Neither do I admit that the papers justify you or your President of the Confederate State in any inquiry as to this treatment of disorderly citizens in Missouri, where you have no force and no organization of forces. Porter's gang was raised on the occasion of enrolling the militia, it being mainly persons who wished to resist the State enrollment by a kind of State mutiny.
Persons pretending to hold commissions from the Confederate authorities to recruit, who come without uniforms, concealing themselves within my lines, are spies, and if taken will be shot. Persons in the State, who congregate without commissions of any kind, to steal and rob, under the color of warfare, have deserved death, and, in some instances, after being paroled and taken a second time, they have been summarily disposed of ny an indignant and outraged community. Such, I understand, was the case at Palmyra, where the authorities of the State of Missouri are competent to punish her criminals and protect her
* There letter actually sent appears to have been that dated December 27, p. 879, which see, as that one is recorded in letter-book of the Department of the Missouri, and a copy of it wa forwarded to Washington by General Curtis January 1, 1863. The above was found in the miscellaneous papers of that department, but is not recorded in the letter-book, and may have been the original draught of the letter of December 27.