Saint Louis, Mo., January 15, 1863.
Honorable E. M. STANTON:
Provost-Marshal's Orders, Numbers 35, is mainly a compilation of old orders. Where we have no troops, provost-marshals guard public property, arrest spies, and give immediate notice of guerrilla forces. The system was inaugurated over a year ago, and is the only way of keeping the peace in Northern Missouri, especially in border counties. I have no serious complaints coming to my knowledge. The rebels that attempted to capture Springfield are retreating, hotly pursued. Things every day grow more quiet. I am constantly curtailing restrictions regarding trade as safely seems to permit, and I fear the change required by your dispatch of the 14th will give new trouble. May I suspend action until I can confer by letter?
SAML. R. CURTIS,
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE MISSOURI,
Saint Louis, January 15, 1863.
His Excellency President ABRAHAM LINCOLN:
I had the honor to see a letter addressed to me, but sent to Governor Gamble, of the 5th instant,* in relation to affairs in Missouri, and very properly urging a conference between us in regard to several matters relating to the administration of affairs in this State, which you say are giving you much trouble. In reply to this last idea, I have great solicitude. I have seen lately a determination to oppress you with matters that certainly ought first to come before me. For the good of discipline, as well as justice to you, matters should, as far as possible, be adjusted by your subordinates. I regret that I published the suspension of assessments in this city as your order. I did so because I thought it would show your anxiety to be just and generous. But the effect has been to carry everything to you, even before seeking proper redress elsewhere. If Dr. McPheeters had presented his case to me, as he did to you, both you and I would have been spared much trouble.
In my interview with Governor Gamble, and in reference to persons charging him with selfish and ambitious motives, and doubts as to his fidelity, the Governor expressed his regrets, and evinced generous sentiments of loyalty. He said, what is true, there is too much disposition now to impeach everybody. I think with you that Governor Gambleis loyal, and I do not see any occasion for us to differ, except it may be as to some measures. But even upon these I do not think difficulty will arise between us. He goes for you and our country and some of your measures. I go for all. In regard to county assessments, he withdrew his Enrolled Militia publicly. I am checking them quietly Our Union men are much opposed to restraint in their pursuit of rebels, especially in the country where our friends have been persecuted, and where the assessments inure to the benefit of the widows and orphans of men killed by the rebels. There may be frauds, such as you name, but I doubt it. I should have had news of it. No assessment committee could commit such a fraud as you name with impunity. The calculation, I presume, is based on the supposition that men are assessed on the value of their property, whereas the assessments are made on a compound ratio of property and disloyalty. These assessment on persons for crimes committed in a neighborhood are considered a great
*See p. 17.