RICHMOND, December 10, 1861.
General W. H. CARROLL, Knoxville:
Execute the sentence of your court-martial on the bridge burners. The law does not require any approval by the President, but he entirely approves my order to hang every bridge-burner you can catch and convict.
J. P. BENJAMIN,
Secretary of War.
HEADQUARTERS RIFLE BRIGADE,
Knoxville, December 11, 1861.
Honorable J. P. BENJAMIN, Secretary of War, Richmond, Va.
SIR: In pursuance of your instructions by telegraph of yesterday the sentence of death pronounced by court-martial upon A. C. Haun, the bridge-burner, was executed by hanging at 12 o'clock to-day. The court-martial is still in session engaged in the trail of a number of others charged with complicity in the same crime. I am not advised of the nature or extent of the proof that can be brought against them but should it be sufficient and the court find them guilty the sentence whatever it may be will be promptly executed unless otherwise directed by you. In addition to those suspected of burning the bridges I have now in confinement about 150 more *prisoners charched with taking up arms, giving aid and assistance to the enemy, inciting rebellion, &c. Those among them who have been proven guilty of the offenses alleged against them I shall send to Tuscaloosa in accordance with your instructions* by letter of November 25. I have already sent there fortyeight to be held as prisoners of war.
I have been greatly annoyed by the interference of the civil authorities with what I conceive the proper and faithfull discharge of the duties incumbent upon me in my capacity of military commander of this portion of East Tennessee. Several attempts have been made to take offenders out of my hands by judicial process to be tried by the civil tribunals, which trials I am satisfied would in many instances have resulted in the release of those who are guilty and should be punished. In order to avoid these embarrassments I felt myself justified in placing the city under martial law until such time as all the prisoners charged with military offenses now in my custody can be tried by a military tribunal. If after this is done any should remain whose offenses come legitimately under the jurisdiction of the civil courts I will turn them over to the proper officers to be disposed of in that way. I have only been prompted t venture upon this stringent course by strong onviction that the public good imperatively demanded it.
The traitorous conspiracy recently so extensive and formidable in East Tennessee is I think well nigh broken up as there is at present butt little or no indication of another outbreak. I have small detache out in every direction suppressing any rebellious spirit that may be manifested and arrestng those who are known to have been in arms against the Government. I am daily receiving the most encouraging evidences that the people are beginning to return to a sense of duty and patriotism as many of those who were heretofore unfriendly toward us are coming forward and giving every assurance of future fealty.
* See Benjamin to Wood, p. 848.