War of the Rebellion: Serial 033 Page 0450 MO., ARK., KANS., IND.T., AND DEPT. N.W. Chapter XXXIV.

Search Civil War Official Records


Brigadier General THOMAS EWING, JR.,

Commanding District of the Border, Kansas City, Mo.:

GENERAL: The major-general commanding directs me to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated August 3, 1863, asking "permission to give military escort out of those counties" (certain counties of your district) "to such negroes as wish it, and as were slaves of persons engaged in rebellion on or since 17th July, 1862," and fully setting forth the reasons which induced you to recommend the action proposed.

Having full confidence in the correctness of your information on this subject, the commanding general approves of the views and suggestions contained in your communication, and directs you to carry them into effect without delay.

The execution of your orders in this matter will be intrusted only to the most discreet and reliable officers, and you will hold them to a strict account for any abuse of the authority or discretion intrusted to them. It is borne in mind that such power, in the hands of military officers, is always liable to abuse, especially in cases like the present, where popular sentiment inclines to a very literal construction of the law which makes free the slave.

You will endeavor to give practical freedom to all persons in your district who a clearly entitled to it by law, and who desire to avail themselves of the military protection offered them. Special care must be exercised to avoid this summary mode of proceeding in any doubtful case. Doubtful cases must be left to the decision of the courts.

If, by mistake or otherwise, your troops bring away from their masters any persons who are legally held as slaves, you will not hesitate to rectify the error whenever it shall be made to appear.

Able-bodied men liberated under this authority will be enlisted into the service of the United States, in accordance with instructions from the War Department, dated August 8, 1863, forwarded to you through these headquarters August 12, 1863.

Persons not enlisted as soldiers will, as soon as practicable, be provided with comfortable homes, where they can earn a livelihood without expense to the Government.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Major and Aide-de-Camp.


Brigadier General THOMAS EWING, JR.,

Commanding District of the Border, Kansas City, Mo.:

GENERAL: In reply to your communication of August 3, relative to the families of guerrillas living in the border counties of your district, the major-general commanding authorizes you to make preparations for transporting such of them as you deem it necessary to dispose of to let them at one or more points on or near the Missouri River, where they can be temporarily guarded and quartered.

On account of the expense and trouble necessarily attendant upon the carrying out of this plan, and also the suffering it may cause to children and other comparatively innocent persons, the number to be