War of the Rebellion: Serial 082 Page 0016 OPERATIONS IN SE. VA. AND N.C. Chapter LII.

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state that no one is more disgusted with the unlawful acts of lawless men than I am, but justice to my command impels, me to add that while frequent enough they are vastly exaggerated in kind and number. I believe that there exists in our cavalry service an organized band of thieves, who are under no restraint whatever, and who have been skillful enough so far to elude every attempt at arrest; but without discussing how far this state of facts may be common to all other branches of the service, in this and other armies, I am determined if possible to break up the organization and to establish a compulsory condition of morals different from that usually found among troops. I have heard vague rumors-in one instance of plate having been taken, and of several where money was stolen. The statement of Captain French will show what my action was in such cases. Rape, wanton insult to women, nor brutal conduct of any kind I am confident can be truthfully charged against my command. Mules, horses, forage, and provisions were taken whenever found or needed, and although this may have been oppressive to the people from whom they were taken, they were quite beneficial to my troops, and conduced in no small degree to the success of the expedition in which they were engaged. Finally, permit me to say I believe no expedition of the kind was ever conducted with less improper conduct on the part of the men and officers than characterized the one so hotly denounced by the rebel newspapers. Hoping that the major-general commanding may become convinced of this, and that he will be slow to condemn my command because it has excited the ire of the public enemy.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

JAS. H. WILSON,

Brigadier-General.

[Inclosure.]

CIRCULAR.,] HDQRS. THIRD DIVISION, CAVALRY CORPS,

June 21, 1864.

To prevent all straggling, marauding,and pilfering by this command on the coming march, it is enjoined upon all commanding officers to use every effort to see the existing orders and regulations on this subject strictly enforced. Regimental and brigade rear guards, under commissioned officers, will be established and will prevent all falling out of the ranks, watering horses without orders, and independent and disorderly proceedings of every kind. Canteens must be filled before starting or at halts, and upon no condition will the men be allowed to leave the ranks for this purpose while the column is moving. Only orderlies from regimental, brigade, or division headquarters will be permitted to pass up and down the column, and then only when on duty. All foraging for animals and provisions will be done by organized parties under officers of the respective staff departments. All delays in the column will be regulated and distance regained as much as possible at a walk. Should any part of the command be delayed seriously word will at once be sent to the head of the column. As the expedition upon which the command is engaged is of great importance it is expected that all movements will be made with the greatest promptitude and celerity, and that commanding officers will enjoin upon officers and men the necessity for industry, patient endurance, and good conduct.

By command of Brigadier-General Wilson:

L. SIEBERT,

Assistant Adjutant-General.