War of the Rebellion: Serial 068 Page 0653 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.- UNION.

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which on examination is found to be false. The are unquestionably cowardly deserters, and deserve the death penalty. The Secretary of War has directed that the officer be placed in irons and the men under strong guard and sent back to your headquarters to be disposed of as you may deem proper. He directs me to say that he advised and authorizes you to have deserters tried by a drumhead court, and if guilty, executed without delay as an example. Prompt and severe punishment is deemed necessary to prevent straggling and desertion. A considerable number of our deserters are said to be on the Rappahannock, robbing for subsistence, and waiting to get through our lines or to be picked up by rebel cavalry. Some are said to have reached the Potomac and crossed into Maryland. Your action in this matter, whatever it may be, will be sanctioned by the War Department.

I hope to be able to send you 10,000 re-enforcements by to-morrow night, and 3,000 or 4,000 more in a few days. I have ordered everything from the Rappahannock Station, inside of Bull Run, which will be our outer line. This will enable me to send you some 1,500 men from there. A battery of artillery and some companies of invalids have been ordered to Belle Plain as guards for depot and supplies. When you break off communication with that place, and the wounded are all withdrawn, the depot will be broken up and removed to such place as you may direct. Heard from Sherman to yesterday. His operations delayed by non-arrival of Stoneman's cavalry. No general engagement yet. Buzzard Roost found too strong, and he will now attempt to turn it. Nothing new from Butler.

Steele returned to Little Rock on the 2nd badly cut up. General Rosecrans, after repeated orders, still retains the Ninth Iowa Cavalry. General Canby has been authorized by Secretary of War to take troops from Department od Missouri. Ohio militia is organizing pretty rapidly, but not a regiment yet raised in Indiana, Illinois, or Iowa. No recent news from Banks. By last accounts his army was nearly in a state of mutiny. He abandoned Admiral Porter in his retreat and many of the gun-boats were destroyed or lost. The enemy did not pursue, except in small detachments, Kirby Smith's main force being sent to re-enforce Price against Steele.

Yours, truly,


Major-General and Chief of Staff.

P. S.- This will be sent by the escort of deserters.

H. W. H.


May 12, 1864. (Received 11.30 p. m. 13th.)

Major General H. W. HALLECK,

Chief of Staff:

I sent this evening to Belle Plain all the prisoners captured to this time. Please direct the commanding officer there what to do with them.