POCAHONTAS, March 8, 1862.
Colonel W. P. CARLIN, U. S. Army,
Commandant, Ironton, Mo.
COLONEL: Upon my arrival here last evening I was mortified and grieved to learn of the misunderstanding or misconduct of Captain Higdon of the Third Regiment Missouri State Guards. You have seen enough of the man to know his measure, but at the same time I must assure you that had I known the facts in the case he would not have had the opportunity to place us in such an awkward position.
I really believe, however, colonel, that Higdon honestly believed himself to be exchanged, for if I remember aright (not having my letter-book with me) I wrote to you in answer to the communication by Higdon that I had written to General Halleck proposing a general exchange. This letter was sent through Colonel Ross at Cape Girardeau. And upon my return from Richmond last month I found your communication through Captain Elliott which I immediately answered, inclosing a general order releasing all captured by me on the Iron Mountain Railroad. This last letter I sent through General Polk by flag of truce to Cairo.
From these various communications Higdon has been either led to believe that he has been exchanged or he has cowardly shrunk from performing a sacred duty and should be held responsible; but, colonel, as he asserts so positively his innocent intentions, as he is suffering so severely from a broken arm (recently broken) and as he is hardly worth making an example of I have thought I would not send him up until I hear from you again, when if you desire him you shall have him if he can found in the Confederate.
I wrote to Colonel Ross some weeks ago to know in what light you hold the disbanded soldiers of the Missouri State Guards who have been taken prisoners-whether as citizens or a soldiers-but have received no answer. I would be pleased to hear from your on the subject. Any communication addressed to me at this place, or Bloomfield or New Madrid, at your convenience, will reach me, as I will vibrate for a week or two.
Yours, most respectfully,
M. JEFF. THOMPSON,
Brigadier-General, Missouri State Guard.
OFFICE OF PROVOST-MARSHAL-GENERAL,
DEPARTMENT OF THE MISSOURI,
Saint Louis, March 8, 1862.
Major HUNT, Hannibal, Mo.
MAJOR: Herewith you will find a special order* for arrest of certain parties in Ralls County. Have them brought before you and if you see proper parole them with the liberty of your city. General Halleck's order punishes all such parties. I would suggest that it is only desirable to get all secessionists or sympathizers out of office and place, and if they will resign and allow the governor to fill their places with loyal men they might avoid or avert the punishment for their violation of the order of General Halleck. The sheriff of Ralls County ought to be got rid of. The papers I have do not give his name. I will refer the matter of declaring the officers vacant to the governor. It is desirable and you are instructed to exercise your own judgment and discretion in the arrest and release of prisoners.
* Not found.