HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF NORTH MISSOURI,
Mexico, August 3, 1861.
J. H. STURGEON, Esq., Saint Louis, Mo.
DEAR SIR: Your letter of the 1st instant is before me. * I will with great satisfaction reply to your inquiries as well from personal regard for yourself as that it gives me the opportunity to explain clearly what few persons in your city see to comprehend.
When I arrived in North Missouri to assume the command I found the whole country in commotion, bridges and railroad tracks destroyed or in great danger of being so, and the entire population in a state of excitement and apprehension unwarranted by the facts. My first object has been to restore quiet and secure the safety of public and private property. The only persons in arms so far as I could learn were a few reckless and violent men in parties of twenty or thirty who were wandering about committing depredations upon all whose sentiments were displeasing and keeping this whole region in apprehension and uneasiness. I found that those who had been quiet had been no more; had taken no part to prevent the outrage committed by these lawless bands, and had not even been willing to give information by which they could be apprehended or prevented from engaged or prevented from engaged in hostile and lawless acts against the peace of the country.
So soon as these marauders found that troops were approaching, which they easily did from the very persons who ask for protection, they dispersed, each man going to his home and in many cases that home in the very town occupied by the troops. Parties of these men would leave their houses and families in the immediate vicinity and engage in forays upon Union men and their property in the immediate neighborhood being sure that those even most opposed to their lawless conduct would carefully shield them from exposure. The mass of the people stood quietly looking on at a few men in their midst committing all sorts of atrocious acts and neither attempted to prevent them nor to give any information by which they could have been prevented and punished.
This was the actual state of things in a large part of ties of Northern Missouri. When troops were sent out against these marauders they found only men quietly working in the field or sitting in their officers who as soon as the backs of the Federal soldiers were turned were again in arms and menacing the peace. To such an extent had this gone that there was no safety of persons or property in North Missouri except to the secessionists and the Union men were to timid or too much in the minority to offer the least resistance. My first object was to restore peace and safety so that the forces under my command could be removed from the vicinity of the settlements, and to do this with the least bloodshed, the least distress to quiet persons and the least exasperation of feeling among the people.
Two course were open to me to effect this desirable result: The first was to put in motion in all parts of this region small bodies of troops to hunt out the parties in arms against the peace and follow them to their homes or places of retreat wherever they might he. This course would have led to frequent and bloody encounters, to searching of houses and arrest in many cases of innocent persons, and would only have resulted in spreading the apprehension of distress over districts hitherto quiet. I was and am satisfied that the people of the counties in North Missouri are abundantly able to keep place among themselves
* Not found.