[MAY 11, 1865. -For Thompson to Davis, in regard to surrender of Confederate forces, see Part I, pp. 234, 235; and for Thompson to Dodge, on same subject, see Part I, p. 236.]
HEADQUARTERS FORCES FRONT LINES,
May 11, 1865.
Colonel R. L. CAPERS,
Commanding Fifth Louisiana Cavalry:
COLONEL: You will express my commendation and approval to the men of Your regiment who have Remained true to their colors, notwithstanding the force of example and temptation. The circumstances that surround us are peculiar, and we should act with that patriotism that has ever distinguished the soldier. The interest of the private and the officer is identical, for the power that is vested in the one arises only from the representation and obedience of the other. What particular object those unfortunate men, who secretly left their companions on the night of the 9th instant, may have expected to accomplish is difficult to imagine. By this one step they lose the results of their long endurance and sacrifice the reputation that they have won. I have no desire to force men against their wishes to struggle for their own freedom, and under no circumstances would I wish to lead into battle any body of men who desire to abandon the cause for which we have taken up arms. There is a time for all things, and men should not unduly precipitate their action. I have no doubt but that opportunities will be frankly offered for men to select their own course; and that no unreasonable violence will be exhibited by our superior officers, who have attested by the common perils that they have freely shared with us their devotion to the common weal. But the present is not the time for men to act. Intrusted with the duty of the front, sacred responsibilities toward our comrades in arms require us to be vigilant and faithful; and even those who have or may determine to abandon the contest and go home will, if they desire to do so, have ample opportunities to execute their purposes, when, even if we had the desire, we would not have the them. How sad would be the spectacle of Louisianians turning upon each other those arms which they took up against a common foe, whose triumph this fraternal contest would consecrate. We have stood together in many trying scenes, and if we must part let us not part as enemies, but as brothers, dealing openly and frankly with each other, not going away from each other in the night as if we knew some wrong was being committed toward those who remain. Then while we remain together let us cherish toward each other the same confidence that has ever existed; and I trust that it is not necessary for me to say that the men will find in me one who sympathizes with their many sufferings and who has no disposition to exercise his authority for the purpose of oppression. In the short period Your men have been attached to my command I have been pleased with them and gratified at their bearing; and I am confident if those men who left us the other night had come and conversed frankly with me they would now have Remained cheerful and contented with those now present with the regiment who have thus preserved their honor untarnished to the end.
I am, colonel, yours respectfully,
J. L. BRENT,