War of the Rebellion: Serial 038 Page 0574 Chapter XXXVI. Mississippi, WEST TENNESSEE, ETC.

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Vicksburg, MISS., August 4, 1863.


GENERAL: I had determined to direct Hurlbut to send a force down the Mississippi and Memphis road, and if there would not be too much labor in repairing the road, to collect all the rolling-stock cut off from the south and take it into Memphis. I think, therefore, two or three days hence will be early enough for our cavalry to start. The bridges at Grenada must not be destroyed; otherwise the rolling-stock on the Central road cannot be gotten on the other.


HDQRS. Fifteenth A. C., Camp, August 4, 1863.

General GRANT:

I will order my cavalry to be ready on short notice, subject to your orders.

I did not propose to burn the Grenada bridge until after the locomotives and cars were above the Yalabusha. I think the Yalabusha is as far as the Memphis forces should attempt to operate south. All below that point will be of no importance to us in a military sense. The Yazoo country will hereafter be absolutely at our mercy, with water communication.

All quiet here as Sunday, and I begin to feel like doing something, but until recruits arrive, and our furloughed men get back, I suppose we had better keep quiet.


CAMP ON BIG BLACK RIVER, August 4, 1863.

Lieutenant Colonel John A. RAWLINS,

Asst. Adjt. General, Dept. of the Tennessee, Vicksburg, MISS.:

SIR: I have the honor herewith to transmit for the action of the general-in-chief the proceedings of a general court martial in the case of Private [James O.] Tebow, Sergeant [Henry] Blanck, and Captain [William B.] Keeler, of Company A, Thirty-FIFTH Iowa. These constitute one case, all involving the burning of a cotton-gin during our march from Jackson back to our camps on Big Black.

The amount of burning, stealing, and plundering done by our army makes me ashamed of it. I would quit the service if I could, because I fear that we are drifting to the worst sort of vandalism. I have endeavored to repress this class of crime, but you know how difficult it is to fix the guilt among the great mass of an army. In this case I caught the man in the act. He is acquitted because his superior officer ordered. it. The superior officer is acquitted because, I suppose, he had not set the fire with his own hands, and thus you and I and every commander must go through the war justly chargeable with crimes at which we blush.

I should have executed the soldier on the spot, and would have been justified, but the pleaded his superior orders, and now a volunteer court-martial, tainted with the technicalities of our old civil courts, absolves the officer on the old pleas, good when all men were held responsible alone for the acts done by their own hands. I believe there is a remedy; General Grant can stamp the act as a crime, and can pronounce the officer unworthy a commission in the Army of the United States. This will in a measure relieve our General Government of the obloquy