Charleston, Mo., March 23, 1864
DEAR SIR: Inclosed you will find a lengthy epistle from one of the "Southern chivalry," and in order that the general may understand it and by posted when he "surrenders" to him, it may be necessary for me to make some explanation. As you are perhaps aware, this country is almost constantly infested by guerrilla bands. On last Saturday evening I learned that Captain Sells, of our regiment, was in the neighborhood of Sikeston.
On Sunday morning I sent a dispatch to him (supposing he was still there) to watch certain crossings of the swamp, and I would drive the guerrillas out to him; and knowing it was very uncertain where they would be found, and that I had to have a sufficient force to guard the post, I ordered out a lot of citizens and formed four different commands, hoping that some of us would surely find them. The most of the citizens, I must say, seemed to go cheerfully. Some of the warm friends and relations of the scoundrels, of course, thought it very oppressive.
And now for the case of J. C. Moore. He was not in town when I started out with the expedition, and I left word with Lieutenant Reid, who was left in command of the post, if he had any dispatches to send to me to order a citizen to bring it. So on Monday night the guerrillas got in behind us and stole some horses within 2 miles of town. All of our cavalry detachments were camped about 7 miles southwest of Charleston, and Lieutenant Reid ordered said Moore to bring a dispatch to me, which resulted as his letter will show.
And now a word as to the loyalty of said J. C. Moore, First. He has not paid his commutation tax for 1864. Second. He was chairman of a mass meeting that met in Charleston, Mo., February 4, 1861, and passed a secession preamble and resolution (Charleston Courier, February 8, 1861.) Third. He was a candidate for captain of the first rebel company that was made up in this town; for proof, refer to Colonel H. J. Deal and George Kyzer, of this place. Fourt. On one occasion in the early part of the war it was deemed necessary by a Federal officer in command here to have the citizens stand picket. Said J. C. Moore said before he would stand picket two hours for the Federals he would go South.
Please excuse this lengthy letter; as the says he is going to you with complaints, I only want you to know how to take him. I was prompted to act as I did to promote the best interests of the country. This J. C. Moore has three cousins out with the guerrillas, named Vernon, and I think such men as him, who have helped to get up the state of things that now exist in this country, might afford to help put it down.
All that kept him from being in arms against the Government was because he could not get office and was too aristocratic to go in as a private.
We succeeded in running the guerrillas out but did not capture them. Captain Sells was gone and did not get my dispatch, but I did not learn it in time to place another force there.
The health of my company is generally good.
I am, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. A. EWING,
Captain, Commanding Post.