interpose to prevent their return to you-as your property you have a right to their service. I would not feel authorized to offer you a file of soldiers to forcibly take them to your home; but I can comporting with the order of Major-General Halleck authorize their return to you by permitting no interposition against their return and by acquiescing in any course taken by you to recover them. It would give me pleasure to say honestly to those who are warring against us that while my power lasts if they will return to their homes as I have written to you they shall be protected. The policy of our Government is to conciliate rather than coerce. Hence I hope that when this reaches you it will find you fully prepared to come to us, and hereafter to find you if not positively with us at least holding a position that will enable you by example to do much in causing the return of those who in an unguarded moment threw off their allegiance to the Government of our fathers and united their destiny with one that experience may teach them is not for their good.
Trusting to take you by the hand soon, I am, &c.,
L. F. ROSS,
Colonel Seventeenth Illinois Regiment, Commanding.
SAINT LOUIS, December 11, 1861.
General S. R. CURTIS.
DEAR SIR: As an honest man I would seriously object to taking this oath because that every man that takes it can't avoid perjury for he can't support the Government and uphold and sustain the Constitution at the same time.
It does appear to me an unsophisticated individual that our rulers are crazy, and you among the rest if this oath is prescribed by you. You all seem to overlook several facts that are patent to all the world. First of them though not least is that there no longer exists any union of all the States and that there is really less Union feeling in the hearts of the Northern people than in the Southern people. The next and still more prominent fact is that it is impossible to perpetuate or create a union by force. Union don't mean war and war don't mean union. The more war the less union. But why reason with crazy men?
HEADQUARTERS SAINT LOUIS DISTRICT, Numbers 5.
Saint Louis, Mo., December 6, 1861.
I. To carry out the arrangements for protecting the commerce of the Mississippi as required by General Orders, Numbers 4, of this district, the oath embodied in paragraph II and the blanks for names and description are prescribed for the use of the boats and houses engaged in this trade. This oath is also prescribed as the oath of allegiance to be taken and subscribed in obedience to paragraph V of General Orders, Numbers 13, of the Department of the Missouri, and in all other cases in this command when an oath of allegiance is authorized and required.
II. Oath of allegiance to the United States Government:
I solemnly swear that I will bear true allegiance to the United States and support and sustain the Constitution and laws thereof; that I will maintain the national sovereignty paramount to that of all State, county or confederate powers; that I will discourage, discountenance and forever oppose secession, rebellion and disin-