secure equal and exact justice to all applicants, particularly those of Union families, and will require such returns as will enable you to know how many indigent persons there are and for h ow long they will need supplies. Any civil agent for the distribution of supplies or any inferior court making distinction between Union people and rebels upon proper proof should be arrested and removed. Gather all information necessary in regard to this most important matter, but keep in mind that until your road is finished we cannot adopt any extensive system of charities.
J. H. WILSON,
KNOXVILLE, TENN., June 4, 1865.
(Received 8 p.m. 5th.)
Honorable E. M. STANTON,
Secretary of War:
I have just seen in print the letter of General Sherman to Lieutenant-General Grant of April 28,* in which appear the following words:
Mr. Stanton, in stating that my orders to General Stoneman were likely to result in the escape of Mr. Davis to Mexico or Europe, is in deep error. Stoneman was not at Salisbury, but had gone back to Statesville. Davis was beyond him. By turning toward me he was approaching Davis, and had he joined me as ordered I would have had a mounted force, greatly needed for that and other purposes, &c.
General Sherman directly and by implication in these remarks and assertions does me great injustice, and makes assertions without a knowledge of circumstances, and which are not borne out by facts. General Thomas has assured you that I obeyed orders strictly. I consider it a duty I owe to myself to state that I am ready to prove and show, I think, to your satisfaction, first, that had I obeyed General Sherman's orders Davis would in all probability have escaped; second, that had not Sherman's orders proclaiming that peace had been restored from the Potomac to the Rio Grande been received where they were, Davis would most likely have been captured by my cavalry in April. Such was the disposition I had made of the command for that and other purposes, and third, that had I not afterward, by direction, paid no attention to General Sherman's orders Davis in all human probability would have escaped to the Mississippi River unmolested. The object of General Sherman when he wrote the letter was evidently to throw the responsibility of the escape of Davis upon myself, and inasmuch as his letter has been published to the world, and the poison has been imbibed by the public mind, I h ave to ask that this statement may be given to the public as the antidote.
HEADQUARTERS CAVALRY FORCES, MILITARY DIVISION OF WEST MISSISSIPPI, Numbers 22.
New Orleans, La., June 4, 1865.
I. In obedience to instructions from Major General E. R. S. Canby the detachment of the Second Illinois Cavalry, at Pascagoula, Miss., and of the First Louisiana Cavalry, at Mobile, Ala., will immediately proceed,
*See Vol. XLVII, Part III, p. 334.