Mississippi Squadron, which I will thank you to have forwarded to its destination. An additional copy of the same I hereby inclose for your own information as to the subject of the communication.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,
TH. H. HOLMES,
Lieutenant-General, Commanding Trans-Mississippi Department.
HEADQUARTERS TRANS-MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT,
Little Rock, March 12, 1863.
Acting Rear-Admiral DAVID D. PORTER:
SIR: I have received a paper said to have been posted in the village of Columbia, by your direction, in the following words:
Persons taken in the act of firing on unarmed vessels will be treated as highwaymen and assassins, and no quarter will be shown them.
Persons strongly suspected of firing on unarmed vessels will not receive the usual treatment of prisoners of war, but will be kept in close confinement.
If this savage and barbarous Confederate custom cannot be put a stop to, we will try what virtue there is in hanging.
All persons, no matter who they are, who are caught in the act of pilfering the houses of the inhabitants along the river, levying contributions, or in burning cotton will receive no quarter if caught in the act, or if it can be proved upon them.
DAVID D. PORTER,
Acting Rear-Admiral, Commanding Mississippi Squadron.
It is inferred from this that you maintain:
1st. The capture of enemy's property is not a legitimate belligerent right.
2nd. That it makes no difference that the property is on transports en route for the enemy's camp and consists of military supplies.
3rd. That a belligerent combatant or non-combatant has no right to destroy his own property to prevent it from falling into the hands of the enemy.
It is much to regretted that the usages of civilized nations in war will not be respected in this age of the world.
Under the circumstances no remedy remains except to notify you that, for every violation of the rights of prisoners under the order cited, retaliation will be visited in kind, reserving the privilege of selecting as its subjects those who are most prominent in violating the laws of war, and without regard to rank.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
TH. H. HOLMES,
Lieutenant General, Provisional Army C. S., Commanding Trans-Miss. Dept.
HEADQUARTERS UNITED STATES FORCES,
Camp at Bloomfield, Mo., March 20, 1863.
Captain H. C. FILLEBROWN,
CAPTAIN: I reached General McNeil's headquarters at noon yesterday, and find there the Second Missouri, the First Wisconsin Cavalry, four companies Thirty-second Iowa, and Welfley's battery. Four companies Fourth Missouri Cavalry will come in this morning; four companies more in a day or two. General McNeil has now all the troops he wishes.