SAINT LOUIS, January 1, 1862.
Honorable T. EWING, Lancaster, Ohio.
SIR: I thank you for your letter of the 30th ultimo. I am satisfied that nothing but the severest punishment can prevent the burning of railroad bridges and the great destruction of human life. I shall punish all I can catch although I have no doubt there will be a newspaper howl against me as a bloodthirsty monster. These incendiaries have destroyed in the last ten days $150,000 worth of railroad property notwithstanding that there are more than 10,000 troops kept guarding the railroads in this State. A plot was discovered on the 20th ultimo to burn all the bridges in the State and at the same time to fire this city. Fortunately a part of the intended mischief was prevented. This is not usually done by armed and open enemies but by pretended quiet citizens living on their farms. A bridge or building is set on fire and the culprit an hour after is quietly plowing or working in his field. The civil courts can give us no assistance as they are very generally unreliable. There is no alternative but to enforce martial law. Our army here is almost as much in a hostile country as it was when in Mexico.
I have determined to put down these insurgents and bridge-burners with a strong hand. It must be done; there is no other remedy. If I am sustained by the Government and country well and good; if not I will take the consequences.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. W. HALLECK,
MARTINSBURG, January 1, 1862.
I have thoroughly scoured the whole country as far west as the field of Prentiss' fight. Have captured about fifty prisoners, among the rest Captain Owen, the leader of the bridge-burners about High Hill, and Colonel Jeff. Jones. Colonels Todd and Morton are now coming in toward Danville and Wellsville. Most of the bridge-burners not killed or captured have passed back across the railroad. I am disposing my troops so as to protect the road and clean the country northwest of it. If it is deemed necessary to keep me in this command I would like to return to Saint Louis for a day or two.
J. M. SCHOFIELD,
HDQRS. DEPARTMENT OF THE MISSOURI,
Saint Louis, January 1, 1862.
I. In carrying on war in a portion of country occupied or threatened to be attacked by an enemy, whether within or without the territory of the United States, crimes and military offenses are frequently committed which are not triable or punishable by courts-martial and which are not within the jurisdiction of any existing civil court. Such cases, however, must be investigated and the guilty parties punished. The good of society and the safety of the army imperiously demand this. They must therefore be taken cognizance of by the military power, but except in cases of extreme urgency a military commander should not himself attempt to decide upon the guilt or innocence of