their commands, not only with the connivance, but at the instigation of the enemy. These our officers very properly afterward refused to recognize as prisoners, whose parole has to recognized and who were to be exchanged. No other view, in the judgment of this department, can be justly taken,and all such men are, it is insisted, free at once to re-enter service. Such portion of the men, when reassembled, should be discriminated, and if, occasion arises and the exchange of the others is delayed, might at once be thrown into the field; besides, as the enemy might persist, however unreasonably, in claiming these men to be still liable to their parole, it may be questionable whether it would not be advisable, instead of retaining them altogether in one and the same brigade, to distribute them in other commands, and take from them, in exchange, a similar number, so as, ion case of capture, to lessen the chance of their recognition and a question about them. This is a matter commenced to your consideration and discretion.
You will receive, with this, the commission of Colonel Dockery as brigadier, which,on the reassembling of the brigade, you will deliver, and assign him to command. I am unwilling to doubt his success in reassembling the brigade, and, therefore, issue the commission; but as,properly, the department should only commission for an existing brigade, and, by possibility, it may not be assembled, I have intrusted the commission to you,and leave its delivery to the contingency occurring of a proper brigade to be commanded. There are a good many other Arkansas troops made prisoners at Vicksburg who, under like circumstances with Colonel Dockery's command, have passed the river, some before and some after furlough. You will exercise your discretion as to when how they should be reassembled; but it may be that you will find it judicious to have one rendezvous, and use Colonel Dockery's agency and general influence with the Arkansas troops to promote their return to their standards. These troops are very much needed on this side of the river, and it is hoped that they,or their equivalents,may have some opportunity afforded of return. Should the chance be presented, it would be a matter of grave consideration whether it would not be more advisable to send other equivalent commands in their places to this side. The spirit and tried character of these troops would probably improve the general morale of the comparatively new troops with you, while, in a political point of view, they would probably, from past associations, keep up a braver and more general patriotism among the people and in the army, and repress any tendency supposed to exist among your people to isolation and separate action from the Confederacy. You can judge of all this more fully and justly than, at this distance and with my limited knowledge of the opinion entertained west of the river, I can pretend to do. I only present the subject for your consideration. I would recommend also that, as far as practicable, from conscripts under the late call of the President, this brigade of Colonel Dockery should be recruited and strengthened. The new material would thus soon be assembled, and the spirit as well as strength of the whole would be in all probability greatly improved.
Colonel Dockery will give you,more fully than I can in a letter, some general views I have expressed to him of the present condition of our affairs and of the measures they seem to require. They are in the same line with some in a letter recently written, which, I hope, has been received by you.
With high esteem, most truly, yours,
J. A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War.