HDQRS. FIRST SUB-DISTRICT OF MIDDLE TENNESSEE,
Tullahoma, Tenn., April 9, 1865.
Major B. H. POLK,
MAJOR: Upon my return from Nashville I found here two directory orders from you relative to home guards; one was an indorsement on an anonymous letter from Franklin County to Major-General Rousseau without signature of any kind, but purporting to come from citizens of that county, complaining of my order requiring all citizens to enroll themselves into home-guards companies for self-defense. The indorsed order directs me to have only those enrolled that are within the military age. The other order directs me to disband all the home-guard companies that have been formed in the different counties named in my order, a copy of which is inclosed and also a copy of instructions to officers of such companies. Feeling very sure that these two orders were given under a total misapprehension of facts, and that the very best interest of our cause and of the peace and safety of the people of the counties named in the order, who are now nearly all organized into home-guard companies, requires that the organization of those companies should be maintained until the militia can be enrolled, organized, and officered, and as there is emergency in the matter, I have ventured, without any intention of disobeying orders, to state a few facts for the information of the major-general commanding District of Middle Tennessee, knowing that from his warm-hearted patriotism he would be the last man to knowingly issue an order that would be in any way injurious to our cause. As to the first order indorsed on that anonymous letter, my provost-marshal has made diligent inquiry from the leading citizens of Franklin County, and all that have been inquired of repudiate that letter and say that id does not express the sentiments or wishes of half a dozen men of that county - there being nearly a unanimous feeling in favor of the home-guard companies, by which they have been enabled to rid their county of guerrillas, thieves, and robbers, and now feel more freed from apprehension and terror of lawless men than at any time since the beginning of the war. From the best information that anonymous letter was written by an old hypocritical traitor by the name of Smith, who is a vindictive rebel and has been harboring bushwhackers, and of course is opposed to home guards and every other forcible means for the restoration of law and order and the supremacy of the Government. With all due deference, I do not think that reasons against my order from such a source should have been heard without at least giving me a hearing before striking. As to the order requiring men only to be enrolled in the home guard companies who are within the military age: My reasons for requiring all boys over fourteen to be enrolled is that I have found many of the very worst bushwhackers between the ages of fourteen and eighteen, and have found that boys between those ages are much more liable to be seduced away among bushwhackers than those over eighteen; and, by having them enrolled and committed to the home guard, they would not be in danger of being so seduced.
My reasons for requiring all men over the military age to enroll themselves in the home-guard companies of their respective neighborhoods, was not that they should be called on for active duty in hunting thieves and bushwhackers, but that all the men of every neighborhood should be required to commit themselves against thieves, robbers, and guerrillas and in favor of lard and order. The old men by giving their influence, sending information, assisting to settle neighborhood difficulties