bodies of them can be collected at any given point prepared to attempt almost anything. On the 24th of February Captain John J. Bradford, of Company B, Third Mississippi Regiment, who had previously been commanding conscript rendezvous at Augusta, Perry County, was captured by them and barely escaped with his life by accepting a parole, the conditions of which were that he would never again enter the county as a Confederate officer under orders or authority, or in any way aid or assist in molesting them. The house in which he was sleeping was surrounded at daylight, and he was called out, and after some discussion and persuasion on the part of the gentleman with whom he was staying, they agreed to take a vote of the crowd as to whether he should be hanged or be permitted to accept the parole, an by a majority of one vote he was granted the parole. There were in that company 21 men, well armed and equipped, and on the same day they took forcible possession of the depot containing the tax in kind and compelled one of the citizens to issue it out to families in the neighborhood.
Every officer or soldier who enters the county is compelled, if they can catch him, to submit to one of the following requirements: First, desert the army and join them; second, take a parole not to molest them or give information in regard to their acts and localities of rendezvous, or to pilot Confederate cavalry into the country; or, third, to leave the country immediately. Through the instrumentality and assistance of loyal friends, and my own influence with certain citizens whom I knew to be vedettes and spies for these outlaws, I remained in the country several days without being troubled, but was compelled to be very guarded in my actions and words. The citizens are afraid to speak of them in their own houses for fear of spies. Government depots filled with supplies have been either robbed or burned. Gin-houses, dwelling-houses, and barns, and the court-house of Greene County have been destroyed by fire. Bridges have been burned and ferry-boats sunk on almost every stream and at almost every ferry to obstruct the passage of troops; their pickets and vedettes lie concealed in swamps and thickets on the roadside; spies watch the citizens and eavesdrop their houses at night, and a tory despotism of the most oppressive description governs the country; citizens' horses, wagons, guns, & c., are pressed at the option of any outlaw who may desire them, and if the citizen makes any remonstrance he is treated to a caning, a rope, or is driven from the country. Deserters from every army and from every State are among them. They have colonels, majors, captains, and lieutenants; boast themselves to be not less than a thousand strong in organized bodies, besides what others are outsiders and disloyal citizens (of whom I regret to say there are many). They have frequent and uninterrupted communication with the enemy on Ship Island and other points; have a sufficiency of arms and ammunition of the latest Northern and European manufacture in abundance, and I was told that they boast of fighting for the Union.
Gentlemen of undoubted veracity informed me that the Federal flag had been raised by them over the court-house in Jones County, and in the same county they are said to have fortified rendezvous, and that Yankees are frequently among them. Companies of 40 or 50 men go together to each other's fields, stack arms, place out a picket guard, and then cut and roll logs, repair fences, & c., and in this way they swear they intend to raise crops and defend themselves from cavalry this season. The country is entirely at their mercy.