simply aggravates the crime. But, colonel, I call your attention to the fact that the testimony of citizens against a soldier must be taken with a great deal of caution. War is a great demoralizer, especially so when two hostile armies are in the country. If military necessity requires property to be seized belonging to citizens they are willing to swear that soldiers ordered to seize said property are jayhawkers, and thereby soldiers are liable to be put to death for simply executing orders. Straggling soldiers who absent themselves habitually from their commands are a curse to any service, but the man Roder, about whom I wrote, is a soldier and not a marauder, and is entitled to [be] treated as a prisoner of war. Be kind enough to let me know what has become of him.
About the 4 men belonging, as you state, to the Fourth Arkansas Infantry, I have to state that the men have not been executed. I have never had a man captured from the U. S. Army executed unless he has had a fair and impartial trial by a court-martial. Colonel, I am surprised that you should argue in behalf of deserters. I am clearly of opinion, colonel, that you have been misinformed with regard to these men. In the first place, if Union men, they had opportunity to join the Federal Army. General Curtis' force was in this country before any person was conscribed, and when this country was first conscribed the Federal Army was in the occupation of a part of this country. In the next place, 3 of these men voluntarily joined our army; one of these men went from Lawrence County, Ark., into Missouri and there joined Captain Shaver's company of Colonel Freeman's regiment.
Colonel, I assure you that I have never, as yet, nor will I ever be induced to carry on war only upon civilized principles, and detest the man who would act otherwise. The deserters will be tried by a general court-martial, according to law, and shall have a fair and impartial trial, and as a soldier it is all that you can ask. I assure you, colonel, that as far as lays in my power I have ever ameliorated the horrors of war and expect ever so to do. Colonel Freeman requests me to call your attention to the fact that on the 12th of January, 1864, he delivered to you 4 Federal soldiers, captured by him, in exchanged for 4 of his men, then prisoners of war, to wit: Buson, of Company B; William Prosser, Company C; William Davis, Company C; and Peter Fen, of Company C, Freeman's regiment.
In your communication of that date you state that these 4 men were at Springfield, Mo., but should be sent to him. He states that these men have never been sent to him. Colonel Freeman also states that he captured Captain Rouch and 28 non-commissioned officers and privates belonging to your command upon Spring River, in Lawrence County, Ark., in February last, all of whom were by Colonel Freeman turned over to you, and that under the flag that Captain Rouch was to be exchanged for Lieutenant R. H. Powell, Company A, of Freeman's regiment.
Lieutenant Powell has not been exchanged, and Colonel Freeman informs me that he learns that Captain Rouch and these men have been returned to duty before the officer and men for whom they were exchanged had been sent forward to their command. I do not credit this, and hope that you will inform me, through Colonel Rogan, as to the facts in the case.
With respect, your obedient servant,
Brigadier General, Commanding C. S. Forces in Northeastern Ark.