War of the Rebellion: Serial 040 Page 0754 N.VA., W.VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter XXXVII.

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be collected, I would suggest that it be withdrawn from the Shenandoah Valley, and its place supplied by Jenkins' regiments. They would then be in position to undertake an expedition in the northwest as soon as they could be spared.





Salem, Va., April 28, 1863.


MY DEAR SIR: Upon you kind request that I should, when it was necessary, write you unofficially, made when I saw you some months ago in Richmond, I venture this morning to do so.

I write merely to say a word touching the character and good behavior of my brigade. I learn that you have had all kinds of representations made to you prejudicial to the same, and that some of these came in a form calculated to impose upon your judgment. Unacquainted with the specifications they contain, I am, of course, debarred from combating them seriatim. I can only deal with the general charge of marauding, disturbing private property, &c. I believe nobody has had the temerity to charge this brigade with a want of soldierly conduct when confronting the enemy. Certainly no infantry officer of this department would have the hardihood to do so, for I affirm that this brigade of cavalry has undergone more exposure, fatigue, and hunger in the service, and has killed and captured more of the enemy, than all the infantry which is now, or ever has been, in this department; and this averment I am ready to substantiate with facts and figures. But to return to the general charge of "disturbing private property," &c. That depredations upon private property have been committed by soldiers of this brigade, I do not question. That hen-roosts have been robbed, bee-guns stolen, and cooking utensils borrowed and never returned, and that drunken soldiers have entered private houses and behaved in a disorderly manner is, no doubt, all true. But of what brigade is it not true? There is not an officer or soldier who has served in the Confederate Army three months who does not know that this is true of every command where the theater of their operations affords the facilities. It is, of course, not the case with reference to every brigade of a large army encamped for months in the same place and in an already desolated section, where there is no private property to disturb; but under all other circumstances it is the case. Why, it has grown almost into an axiom all the world that "the presence of a friendly army is an evil only second to the presence of an army of the enemy."

But that this evil has been greater than could have been reasonably expected, or more than the strictest orders and increasing vigilance on my part could have prevented, or that it has been greater than that which would be inflicted by any other cavalry force of the same size, and under the same circumstances, I utterly deny; and when I say this I only "speak what I do know."

Nay, sir, I am willing to make the same comparison with any infantry command where the circumstances attending their presence in any locality are at all similar. Why, sir, it has only been three days ago when I encamped for the night at Glade Spring with my command, waiting to take the cars the nest day for this place, and when the railroad agent in charge of the depot, outbuildings, wood, &c., saw a guard placed by