former known rebels and rebel sympathizers show an honest disposition to become loyal, law-abiding citizens, and are of such character and reputation that they can be relied upon, every encouragement should be given them. It is not, however, to be understood that lip service makes loyalty. Loyal acts are the best evidences of loyalty, therefore, judge them accordingly. The willingness of citizens to organize and arm themselves under officers of approved and undoubted loyalty for the defense of their lives, counties, and State, against bushwhackers, marauders, and the common enemy, is the very best test of their loyalty. It must be borne in mind, however, that there are some who may join such organizations for their own protection alone, and who will shirt duty and danger at the critical moment. To all such no mercy will be shown, for being enemies under the guise of friends, they are worse than avowed enemies. All troops belonging to the department must be kept concentrated at their different posts so far as possible, and no matter at how secure a place stationed they must at all times keep out pickets, maintaining strict discipline, and the great tendency of troops garrisoning in towns to loaf and lounge about hotels, depots, stores, and saloons must be stopped.
During the winter the cavalry will use every effort to recruit their stock, make shelters of brush and corduroy the floors, to keep the horses dry and warm. Commanders of troops will immediately make necessary requisitions to place their commands upon and efficient footing. Troops must not under any circumstances be allowed to commit unauthorized depredations. Pillaging and unauthorized foraging will not be tolerated, and all stock, forage, and subsistence stores taken from loyal people must fully account and paid for, as prescribed in existing orders and regulations. Troops must also be continually instructed that any depredations committed [while] foraging, or no matter upon whom committed, except by command of a competent officer, are illegal, and officers will be held strictly responsible for the acts of their men, and it is the duty of all officers and soldiers to pay proper respect to civil law, not to interfere in its execution, and when necessary to aid in upholding it. You will make a semi-monthly report to these headquarters of the operations of the troops in your district, embracing, fights, scouts, &c. You will also forward hither immediately on its receipt all information gained relative to the enemy. It is strictly enjoined upon commanders that in the issue and execution of orders it should be done with the knowledge to only those concerned, and only such general orders published to the people as apply directly to them. This letter of instructions must be treated as strictly private, to be made known only to such subordinate commanders as in your judgment require; upon it, however, you can base instructions to your command.
I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
G. M. DODGE,
(To district commanders.)
HDQRS. MIL. DIV. OF WEST MISSISSIPPI, Numbers 223 1/2.
New Orleans, La., December 25, 1864.
Subject to the approval of the War Department, the organization known as Headquarters Troops, Department of the Gulf, is hereby discontinued, and the enlisted men will be transferred to and form part of
59 R R - VOL XLI, PT IV