War of the Rebellion: Serial 033 Page 0051 Chapter XXXIV. CORRESPONDENCE,ETC.-UNION.

Search Civil War Official Records

Militia. We have not the United States officers to spare to fill their places. They have been selected by local commanders, and are generally the very best men for their places. The War Department could not select so as to improve the matter much. I have not appointed one of them, as I wrote you in a former letter, and my provost-marshal-general has appointed very few; but I am confident they generally represent the loyal sentiment of each neighborhood. I have heard little or no complaint. I have objected to the system because I could never perceive the law upon which to base it and a system of rules which it could be regulated; and I have required my provost-marshal-general to compile rules, which my be improved by abridgements or additions, as circumstances may require. The rules so compiled and originated are submitted as orders. They have been published extensively, and have been some time in operation without any complaint that I have heard of. In fact, they restrain rather than enlarge the customs of provost-marshals, whose duties have heretofore been so undetermined that some of them committed great indiscretions. Any rule of action is better than no rule. I shall be glad to have the matter improved at headquarters, although in the main you will find only well-known rules, many of them inculcated in your official orders. A growth of nearly two years, wide-spread and deep-rooted, more needed as we have less Federal force in Missouri, I most respectfully submit that its eradication is not an easy or safe performance to be executed by a process so summary. It has grown to be a necessary institution,and, in my judgment, should be carefully perfected or very gradually removed. I certainly express the views of my local commanders, and the opinion of every country friend that I have seen since I received the dispatch, when I tell you the safety and peace of various counties in Northern Missouri would be insecure and our Union friends greatly alarmed by the withdrawal of these, the only remaining legal representatives of the Federal Government.

The Union men know that this rebellion is against the National Government, not against the State government;and even the Enrolled Militia desire some nucleus in each neighborhood where, in case of new intrigues, they can rally around a national authority. You know, general, I cannot be actuated by any personal regard for this illegitimate offspring, and I trust you will not consider me liable to needless apprehensions; but I submit that,all but one Federal regiment being drawn from Northern Missouri, I must object to the extinguishment of the only remaining element of power that I am to command. I do not see why we should keep troops in Kansas, and even in Nebraska, and none in Missouri. Is it supposed the Enrolled Militia of Missouri are better than they are in other States? They are generally very good, but many of them are very doubtful, and provost-marshal are generally the select men of the Enrolled Militia. Besides, the Enrolled Militia are not constantly, but only occasionally,in the service, while the provost-marshals are always on duty. I had ordered the last regiment (Merrill's) to move south of the Missouri; but Colonel Farrar has just returned from that portion of the State, and insists that it will not be safe to do so.

With this general statement of the matter, I respectfully ask full and explicit instruction as to the disposition I shall make of property and important papers now in the hands of such officers remote from all military posts, and ask that reliable Federal troops may be sent to me to compensate for this police organization before it is abolished.

I have the honor to be, general, your obedient servant,

SAML. R. CURTIS,

Major-General.