which should be well supplied by the Government with forage and rations, as far as practicable, to prevent foraging from the poor inhabitants, who have very little to spare and, in amy instances, not the necessary subsistence to maintain their families. If those troops were judiciously stationed throughout the best farming districts, so as to enable two or three stations to be within supporting distance, under command of a good officer, with instructions that half of the command of each station should continually be kept out scouting, then, I believe, bushwhacking and guerrilla warfare would be brought to an end in this district.
If anything more can be done for the district, in the way of an addition of troops, it should be done at once, to encourage farmers to make preparations for the crops of the coming season.
In answer to the representations of Colonel Palmer as regards the utility, character, and usefulness of troops now stationed in this district. I have to state that he is incorrect and wrongly informed. I have been saving nearly two years in this district, and have had ample opportunity to judge [of] military matters and troops who have served during that time here. There were never any better troops serving here before, and I think it would be a difficult matter to get any better hereafter, than those now serving. I feel somewhat delicate in making this statement, as the majority of the troops now serving in the district belong to my regiment; I therefore refer you to Colonel R. B. Marcy, Inspector-General U. S. Army, who has lately inspected this district, or any other impartial military authority you might assign to investigate these matters. I do not think we can be held responsible for the conduct of the troops at Hartville and Lebanon, they not serving in our district.
The allusions made in the foregoing-named communication as regards the killing of some citizens from Wright and adjoining counties, for which the writer does not know of any reason, I refer you to report of Lieutenant Bates, by Major Fischer, where he surprised a party of marauders, who had robbed a train previously and in whose possession a part of the goods stolen were found; also to one or two other reports, where our scouting parties fell in with those knights of the woods while they were in the act of arresting Union men and deliberating about their disposal, whether to hang or shoot them. No one needs to expect that many ceremonies are made when our troops come in collision with such characters. Then their war cry is, "Extermination to bushwhackers," and they, becoming aware of this determination from our side, have subsided for a few weeks, leaving the road and country unmolested; but my information and other signs lead me to believe that we will be much annoyed by this class of men as soon as the woods get green. I very much regret that such complaints are made during my temporary command of this district, but can assure you that I have made the best use of the means of defense placed under my command that possibly could be made, and shall continue to do so hereafter till I am relieved, which I hope will be very soon, and if the general commanding should deem it best to assign my regiment to dutch in some other district, he would confer a favor on the same.
Hoping that the explanations within given are satisfactory, I have the honor to be, major, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOS. A. EPSTEIN,
Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding district of Roll.