Cape Girardeau, December 23, 1861.
Department of the Missouri, Saint Louis, Mo.
MY DEAR SIR: Upon assuming command at this post I found that a correspondence had been carried on between Colonel Plummer and General Watkins, of Jackson, Mo. The purport of the correspondence seemed to indicate a desire upon the part of General Watkins, whom you no doubt are aware has been in the camp of the rebel army under Jeff. Thompson, to return to his home in this county. The character and influence as well as position of General Watkins would make him a valuable accession to our cause as well as do much toward weakening of the enemy. The tone of the general indicates an assumption on this part that the has never been strictly speaking in arms against the Government. That he was connected originally with the Missouri State Guard he does not deny but views it in the light of a State organization only created for the defense of the State from aggression on both sides desiring to preserve a neutrality; hence he states that the terms proposed to him, to wit, to return and take the oath, would raise a presumption that he had once been disloyal which he emphatically denies. Some property was taken from him which he desires as part of the terms should be returned to him; the property consists of negroes and stock. I am advised by those who knew General Watkins personally that he is a man of high moral character, strict integrity and unquestionable honor. The immediate point at issue is can he (General Watkins) be made an exception to the general rule as to the obligation to be administered. Evidently the position taken by the general is based upon his misapprehension of the object of the oats and is clearly taken with honest conviction of right on his part and in this instance it may be well to authorize his return without any positive manifestation of loyalty other than that which would necessarily grow out of positive loyal action. He proposes then to return to his home, transact his usual business and to be in all things loyal t for which he professes so much attachment. Inclosed I therefore send you so much of the correspondence* as may tend to throw additional light upon the question.
Hoping to hear from you and be advised, I remain, &c.,
L. F. ROSS,
Colonel Seventeenth Illinois, Commanding.
HEADQUARTERS SIXTH REGIMENT KANSAS VOLUNTEERS,
Fort Scott, December 23, 1861.
Major-General PRICE, or
ANY OTHER OFFICER,
COMMANDING CONFEDERATE FORCES IN MISSOURI:
The bearer of this goes to ask an exchange of prisoners. We have six prisoners belonging to your forces, to wit, D. S. Graham, W. Smith, W. Brice, J. Smith, J. Jones and a Captain Baker. I understand you have four prisoners belonging to my regiment, to wit, B. F. Potter, Charles, James N. Bittle and J. C. Allsup. If you will send my men here or appoint a place where I can send your prisoners
* Not found.