War of the Rebellion: Serial 033 Page 0045 Chapter XXXIV. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.-UNION.

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law to rest it upon. I have not appointed one, except to fill the vacancy of the provost-marshal-general; but the system has started and grown up from surrounding necessities; it is now working very extensively and quite harmoniously,and I believe it must in some shape be continued during the war. When a nation is at war, war exists everywhere and we must have some sort of military representatives wherever military offenses can be committed. It costs too much to keep stationary troops everywhere, but without such officers as I may trust and constantly employ in every county of this State and in various parts of my department, I must have many more troops in actual service in Missouri. While, therefore, there is no apparent necessity of a sudden radical change, I most respectfully request that some substitute may be allowed me for a system of military power which now serves a most important purpose throughout my command, or so order the matter that we may perfect what now seems to be a useful military expedient.

I have the honor to be, Mr. Secretary, your very obedient servant,




[SAINT LOUIS, MO.,] January 15, 1863.

Major General SAMUEL R. CURTIS, Commanding:

GENERAL: The telegram of the Secretary of War, of the 14th, to the major-general commanding this department, contemplating a change in the system of provost-marshals in the interior of the State, requires of me that I should present to you some of the duties performed by them.

Commanding officers in the field turn over prisoners captured by them to provost-marshals, who take the evidence against the prisoners and forward it and them to Saint Louis. With guerrillas and marauding bands operating in the State, whenever opportunity occurs, appearing at first one place and then another, our troops are kept moving, and the officers in the field do not furnish the evidence against the men they capture. Were these prisoners considered prisoners of war, and to be sent forward for exchange, but little evidence would be needed, but they are many of them lawless men, known in certain localities. After their capture their friends constantly make efforts to have them released and it is through the provost-marshals that the facts relating to them are ascertained, and upon which the proper action can be based, as to holding or releasing them. These provost-marshals are made by your orders conservators of the peace. They know and report the state of the country, and can and do determine better than any one else which men can safely be enlarged and which not. Remove them, and to whom shall we apply for the information constantly needed at your headquarters, and to whom will commanders in the field send their prisoners to be examined and forwarded? Again, it is well known that rebel recruiting officers and spies are constantly coming into this State. It is the business of provost-marshals to keep on the watch for them, and to break up their practices; and,but for their efforts, in many counties recruiting for the rebel army would be carried on without danger. There are many disloyal farmers who would constantly aid the rebellion with supplies of different kinds, but for the provost-marshal system. Remove the danger of detection, and the State would furnish (to the rebs) considerable amounts of supplies, and the stream of rebel soldiers southward would be largely increased.

I have released, all the time, men in whose promises reliance could not be placed, but I have felt justified in doing it by placing them under