not in a spirit of harshness. The time is now immediately at hand when they must determine upon their arrangements for the coming season. Many of them within the last fortnight have come back from the various points to which they have been scattered, in much doubt whether to rent land where they have been or not, but all uniformly desirous to come to their homes if not at too great personal hazard. Since the commandant here, Major Smith, has made known the conditions of return, they have been thrown all aback by reason of the manifest difficulty of complying with them; and I may say to you that I do not know of a single person who is willing to take the initiative in resettling the waste places.
The obstacle is in the fact that the requisite number of person to constitute an organized company cannot get in a close and contiguous neighborhood and thus be the mutual protection to each other which is designed to be accomplished by thus embodying in companies. Some of them would necessarily be remote and isolated, and would be a certain and easy prey to a bushwhacking force, for they know that the bushwhackers would be more enraged against them and would more certainly apply their vengeance and retaliation upon them than the regular soldiery. Many of them say that if they have to act as soldiers it would be better for them to go into regular service, an others that they cannot raise crops and be on constant duty, and unless they were they could never consider themselves safe one moment. Such undoubtedly would be the fact to a great extent, for if guerrillas were in the country no man belonging to the organization would be safe in passing upon the highway or sleeping at home or anywhere if outside of the immediately guarded limits.
My impression is that all of those who would return would cheerfully, actively, and loyally co-operate with the military forces in repelling any regular Confederate enemy, or any systematically organized raid; but thus circumstanced they are afraid to engage in hunting bushwhackers, for they are afraid of the after consequences. It would seem that if, coming anew under loyal obligations, they would go to their homes and faithfully adhere to their obligations and give what aid they could safely do in furnishing information and discountenancing the guerrillas, that the work of destroying them or expelling them might be left to the regular soldiery. That this has not been done heretofore I have long been satisfied was not solely, as has been so persistently alleged, on account of the active sympathy shown them by the people, but more on account of the modes in which the military attempted it. Two or three days of pursuit and then abandonment of it until some fresh outbreak occurred was about the usual programmer, and hence the so often unaccomplished results.
I cannot but think, general, that some more feasible plan could be adopted which would meet all the wants of the case and open up the country for settlement by a people who, notwithstanding the undoubted disloyalty manifested by some, are by no means to be included in one general sweep of destruction on account of the faithlessness of a part. Surely it can be done and ought to be done at once, for I assure you the people are in a state of anxious and painful solicitude. A personal visit from you to this portion of your district would give you much more accurate understanding of the condition of affairs.
I remain, yours, very truly, &c.,