War of the Rebellion: Serial 039 Page 1115 Chapter XXXVII. OPERATIONS ON NORTHERN NECK, VA., ETC.

Search Civil War Official Records

wheat. Everywhere I found a majority of the people bitterly opposed to the Government, which they charged with sending among them cavalry to rob and plunder them. In several instances I was assured by intelligent men and women that the wholesale plunder and pillage of our cavalry had done more to weaken the affection of the people for the Government than all other causes combined, and, in fact, the cavalry have left the inhabitants very little cause to respect them as men and soldiers. They have robbed and plundered all that came in their way. These men, pretending to be the representatives of our Government, and to act under and by virtue of its orders, have stripped helpless women and children of their last horse, and in may instances of their last article of food, and have then grossly insulted them for complaining. I do not believe the general commanding the Army of the Potomac is aware of the utter want of every principle of true soldiers which characterizes the intercourse between the cavalry and the inhabitants of the Northern Neck, and hence the strong terms in which I have referred to it.

The right of the United States Government to take from the people anything and everything which they may possess is beyond dispute, and is, perhaps, in many instances wise and politic; but to permit individual and unlicensed plunder, while it does not benefit the Government, does much to lower the standard of our army in the estimation of our enemy, and must lead to demoralization among such troops as are allowed to practice it. The coming of our cavalry among them is anticipated by the people with terror, and their departure is hailed with joy as a deliverance from a scourge. I might give the facts upon which I have founded my opinion of the conduct of our cavalry, but it would consume space and is not necessary.

The people are anxious to renew their commercial intercourse with Maryland. I had many applications for passes to visit Baltimore to purchase necessary articles of food and clothing, and the applicants were willing to bind themselves under oath not to aid or in any manner give information to the enemy. Some of these applications were in writing, and are forwarded with this report from the consideration of the proper department.*

A large contraband trade is carried on over the Peninsula between Maryland and Virginia. Blockade running and dealing in contraband articles have become professions. As an effective means of stopping this trade, the Peninsula should be occupied by a body of troops in the vicinity of Heathsville. A gunboat on the Rappahannock might find employment in assisting to make the blockade more effective, and would, besides, give the enemy great uneasiness.

This report has been written in haste and under great physical prostration, which will be sufficient excuse for its length and imperfections.

The property taken by the men of my command, consisting of 6 horses, 5 mules, and 2 jennies, has been turned into the quartermaster's department at corps headquarters. Two of these mules should be returned to Miss Virginia Brown, near Millville, having been taken against my orders.

I am, colonel, your obedient servant,

HENRY A. MORROW,

Colonel Twenty-fourth Mich. Vols., Commanding Late Expedition.

Lieutenant Colonel C. KINGSBURY,

Assistant Adjtutant-General.

---------------

*Omitted.

---------------