to the notice your general has taken exceptions to; it will fully explain my views on this subject. No one is more desirous than myself that operations within the limits of my command should be conducted in accordance with the usages of war, of humanity, and of civilization, which sentiment, I am pleased to see, is expressed by yourself.
I can see no easier way to arrive at the desired end than by putting a stop to the inhuman practice of firing on unarmed vessels and peaceful citizens. I am quite satisfied that it is not civilized for parties who are overseer civilians one day, trading with our people and soldiers the next, to be traveling around the country firing upon hospital vessels and river steamers. The hospital vessel of this squadron was attacked in sight of me, and a volley of musketry fired into the windows, while she had on board, and being attended with all care, some of the wounded prisoners taken at the Post of Arkansas. A few days since a band of armed desperadoes jumped on the deck of the tug Hercules, and killed in cold blood some of the unoffending crew. Men lurk in the woods, without a flag or distinguishing mark, and fire at any human being they may see on the deck of a steamer, without caring or knowing whether it is friend of foe they are about to murder, and this we are called upon to recognize as civilized warfare.
If, sir, you call this carrying on war in a civilized manner, we differ very widely in our opinions. If those who profess to be your followers make war on us after the manner of highwaymen, I see no reason why they should be treated with that courtesy and kindness which I believe I have the reputation of extending to all prisoners captured in honorable warfare.
In this respect I endeavor to set an example of moderation that it would be well to follow. I have enjoined upon every person under my command to exact the strictest obedience to my order against pillaging or injurinf persons on the river; and while doing all I can to avert the calamities of war, I intend to exact a strict compliance with the usages of war, of humanity, and of civilization. If persons claiming to be soldiers deviate from them, they can scarcely expect to be treated to any of the amenities of war, and their leaders should not claim for them more than they expect themselves. In this matter of firing on unarmed vessels no good results have arisen; on the contrary, it has led to a system of relation, when, unfortunately, the guilty parties did not always suffer. It has led to perfect demoralization, and brought to the river banks a set of desperadoes who plunder alike both friend and foe. This system can do no good toward ending this war, and is only destructive to those who had no hand in making it. If General Pemberton is desirous that the war should be conducted on the principles of humanity and civilization, all he has to do is to issue an order to stop guerrilla warfare. He can exercise his judgment with regard to any retaliatory measures he may think proper to institute. I presume our soldiers and sailors could easily prepare themselves for any ordeal they might be subjected to, and we might hope to see our country aroused at last to a sense of the injuries inflicted upon it.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
DAVID D. PORTER.
LAKE PROVIDENCE, La., March 2, 1863.
Major General U. S. GRANT,
Comdg. Department of the Tennessee:
GENERAL: I have just returned from making explorations between Ashton and Grand Lake, with a view of determining the practicability