War of the Rebellion: Serial 114 Page 0858 PRISONERS OF WAR, ETC.

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from the Federal Government. * * * This gratifying result I am satisfied is attributable almost entirely to the liberal and conciliatory policy of which I have spoken; but notwithstanding * * * there were still left a few leading miscrents and a handful of ignorant and deluded followers who were wicked enough for the commission of any crime however detestable. By these and these alone were the bridges burned and other depredations committed while the mass of the people were entirely ingorant of their designs and utterly opposed to any such wickedness and folly. The numbers engaged in these outrages have I know been greatly over-estimated as facts have been developed in the investigations that have been made by the court-martial now in session at this place which satisfy me beyond doubt that there were not at the time the bridges were burned 500 men in all East Tennessee who knew anything of it or who contemplated any organized opposition to the Government. * * * Scouting parties were sent out in every direction who arrested hundreds suspected of disloyalty and incarcerated them in prison until almost every jail in the eastern end of the State was filled with poor, ignorant and for the most part harmless men who had been guilty of no crime save that of lending a too credulous ear to the corrupt demagogues whose counsels have led them astray. Among those thus captured were a number of bridge-burners. These latter were tried and promptly executed.

* * * About 400 or the poor victims of designing leaders have been sent to Tuscaloosa as prisoners of war leaving in many instances their families in a helpless and destitute condition. The greatest distress prevails throughout the entire country in consequence of the various arrests that have been made, together with the facts that the horses and the other property of the parties that have been arrested have been seized by the soldiers and in many cases appropriated to personal uses or wantonly destroyed.

Old political animosities and private grudges have been revided and bad men among our friends are availing themselves of the opportunity afforded them by bringing Southern men to hunt down with the ferocity of blodhounds all those against whom they entertain any feeling of dislike. * * * The wretched condition of these unfortunate people appeals to the sympathy and commiseration of every humane man. When in Richmond a short time since I was present at at interview with the President and feel assured that he has no disposition to exercise any unnecessary severity towards these deluded dupes. Those best acquainted with affairs here are fully impressed with the belief that if the proper course were pursued all East Tennessee could be united in support of the Confederate Government. Strong appeals have been made from all sections to General Carroll to release those now in prisone here and the return of those sent to Tuscaloosa; but under the instructions from the Secretary of War by which he is governed he does not feel at liberty to do so.

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Colonel H. R. Austin visits Richmond for the purpose of impressing these views upon the President. Colonel Landon C. Haynes will follow in a few days for the same purpose.

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Respectfully, your friend,

H. C. YOUNG.