Many timid Union men who have seen secessionists gro more numerous, bold and threatening have thought they would succeed. Many such who can have left the State or are intending to leave it, while perhaps a large number think it is of no use to struggle against it and bow to the storm. I have dwelt at length on the condition of things and the causes that you may know better how to adapt the remedy.
Complaint is made by officers that they cannot get information. It is well known that the wrath of an unscrupulous foe falls on the head of an informer, and there never has been and is not to-day any adequate protection for such men. Few are bold enough to take the position.
You no doubt desire to retain all your present friends if possible and strengthen their hands while you weaken the enemy, and give them the least possible just occasion to complain. I think if an arrangement could be made to pay for the destruction and loss wantonly and unlawfully done by the soldiery it would go far to place the Government right before the public mind. The Government is now industriously made responsible for these abuses. Then if persons should be exempt from arrest for their opinions for the same reason should not their property be protected also? Yet it is the published purpose of General Pope to hold communities responsible for acts of violence committed among them. This might do in a foreign country but I do not think it can be done here without alienating friends and making the feeling still more bitter on the part of the enemies. The present plan of appointing leading secessionists to look after and protect the railroads of appointing leading secessionists to look after and protect the railroads works in this way: They are authorized to call out who and as many as they please at all times. They use this to order out the Union men to their great annoyance, intending no doubt if they fail fully to respond to report them and as far as possible have them held responsible for any damage. It is already creating great dissatisfaction. The principle of holding peaceable, quiet men responsible in a military contribution for damages done by lawless and violent men is one which can never meet with favor in the popular mind. It is said these roving bands cannot be reached but well-informed men in the country think differently. A suitable mounted force would be required and it can be done. At least their cannon can be taken and they are a "tower of strength" to them in their moral effect on the community.
You may consider much that I have written impertinent. I can only say I have not so intended it. I have felt that in the multitude of your cares there were many facts of which you were not aware. The work to be done in Missouri I consider far more delicate and difficult to do well than if it were a State in open hostility to the Government. I shall call attention to a few points on our road and I have done: At Hannibal are all our repair shops and a large part of our engines and rolling-stock. If these were destroyed it would greatly cripple the road. The destruction of the South River bridge, between Hannibal and Palmyra, would cut us off from there and produce nearly the same effect. This bridge is one-quarter of a mile long and sixty feet high. The bridges at Chariton and Grand River are important and would seriously embarrass the operations of the road if they were destroyed. No other bridge would delay trains more than a few days if destroyed. I think these bridges and Hannibal should be guarded. There are especial reasons for an attack on Hannibal. I am confident the rebels can bring a force of 2,000 men if they choose. There are only between 300 and 400 home guards to protect it. If attacked we are determined