War of the Rebellion: Serial 114 Page 0256 PRISONERS OF WAR, ETC.

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I have obtained information that individuals and parties of men specially appointed and instructed by me to destroy railroads, culverts and bridges by tearing them up, burning, &c., have been arrested and subjected to a general court-martial for alleged crimes which all the laws of warfare heretofoce recognized by the civilized world have regarded as distinctly lawful and proper. I have learned that such persons when tried, if convicted of the offense or offenses as stated, are viewed s lawful subjects for capital punishment.

These statements brought to me in various ways I cannot believe to be correct. It is upon this subject that I now propose to address you. It is necessary that we understand each other and have some guiding knowledge of that character of warfare which is to be waged by our respective governments. This understandint should be given at once. It is desirable both by you and me. Both armies desire it and the exigencies of the war demand that some certain rules should be the basis of our conduct and control. Delay is fatal. It cannot be allowed. We must understand each other.

Do you intend to continue the arrest of citizens engaged in their ordinary peaceful pursuits and treat them as traitors and rebels; if so will you make exchanges with me for such as I may or wil make for similar causes? Do you instend to regard members of this army as persons deserving death whenever and wherever they may be captured or will you extend the recognized rights of prisoners of war by the code of the civilized world? Do you regard-and state as such the law governing your army-the destruction of important roads, transportation facilities, &c., for military purposes as the legal right of a belligerent power? Do you intend to regard men whom I have specially dispatched to destry roads, burn bridges, tear up culverts, &c., as amenable to an enemy's court-martial or will you have them to be tried as usual by the proper authorities according to the statutes of the State?

It is vastly important to the interests of all parties concerned that these momentous issues should be determined. No man deplores the horrors of war more than I do; no one will sacrifice more to averts its desolating march. Each party must be heard. Each must have a kind of common protection. I am willing to afford this. It remains with you to decide the question with that frankness which atends your official communications. I await your reply.

I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

STERLING PRICE,

Major-General, Commanding Missouri State Guard.

HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF CAIRO,

Cairo, January 12, 1862.

General E. A. PAINE,

Commanding Second Brigade, Bird's Point, Mo.:

The citizens brought in under directions of yesterday may be put in tents as suggested by you. They can use the tents of troops who do not go out with you or such surplus tents s may be in the hands of troops at Bird's Point. If you have reason to believe that the parties guilty of shooting our pickets are discovered inform me and I will order a court or commission that will act without delay.

U. S. GRANT,

Brigadier-General, Commanding.