purpose, if it exists at all in the minds of the Federal officers at Port Hudson, has been provoked by the actions of some parties, some of whom are regular Confederate troops, while others are of irregular formation; both of which, however, are pursuing a very irregular system of warfare. I wish to say to you that this system of warfare is not approved here, but that we are powerless to prevent it. These guerrillas, or whatever you may term them, are regarded universally with as much disapprobation by us as by you, and our people suffer much from their lawlessness. But we have neither the means of prevention nor redress, and remonstrance if of no avail. there is no Confederate officer of any considerable grade here, or near here, to control and direct the actin of these men. I assure you that the universal sense of the people here is bitterly opposed to this system of irregular warfare. It is not only irregular as a system of warfare, but, as most necessarily the case, degenerates into a system of indiscriminate plunder, of which our people are victims to an extent which would surprise you.
But what can we do with a sparse population, without arms, quietly pursuing the occupations of a peaceful life? We can only deprecate what we cannot prevent.
No doubt the Federal officers, exasperated by the harassing of these irregular squads, entertain the conviction that they are upheld and sustained by the popular feeling and favor. I assure you that such is not the fact; directly the reverse is true.
While we are willing to see the war carried forward by legitimate means, and in accordance with the rules of civilized and decent warfare, and to bear the consequences which such a state of hostilities may carry along with it, we do not see the propriety of that system of action which we have occasion to deplore as much as yourself. It would be a harsh measure, general, not to say a cruel one, to visit an unoffending and helpless people with widespread and cruel devastation. While it would not remedy the evil, it would be, in fact, as it would appear to the world, an acto of frenzied retribution upon the innocent, who deprecate the acts of the guilty as much as you can. Such an act would be as injudicious for your interest as it would be unjust to us, upon whim this plan of desolating vengeance would fall.
Not one of these guerrillas would be reached or affected by any devastation which you could inflict, nor would they care if you should lay the entire country in ashes. This must be evident, since men who had any in interest at stake would not wantonly invite destruction as these men do. The people here taken no part in these raids, and are bitterly opposed to the whole thing.
If the Federal officers have seriously entertained such a purpose, let me entreat you that it be reconsidered, and that a quiet and peaceable population shall not be made to suffer useless injury for what they cannot prevent.
I should like to have a personal interview with you, if I could be permitted to enter and depart from your lines without taking the oath of allegiance to your Government. There is much I could say to you which I do not wish to write.
I have been in the Confederate army, as you probably know but am now disconnected with it, and expect to remain so. At all events, if I ever fight you, it will be in fair, open, and manly battle, unless a savage system of devastation should drive me to a desperation which I hope never to reach.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, yours,
PRESTON POND, JR.,
45 R-VOL XXVI, PT I