[Received War Department, December 28, 1861.]
SIR: At the request of many of our most reliable friends in East Tennessee I have come to Richmond to lay before you a faithful account of East Tennessee matters. * * *
It is the opinion of the best informed and most reliable men in East Tennessee that all the Confederate troops now employed in guarding the railroads and suppressing rebellion in East Tennessee except one regiment might be safely sent to other points where troops are really needed, and that if proper measures were immediately adopted to bring back to their families all innocent men who have been carried or frightened away from their homes it would restore peace and a sense of security to the people and put an end to all appearances of disloyalty to the Confederate Government in East Tennessee; and I believe that the wrongs they have suffered if properly explained and promptly relieved will afford an occasion for a striking display of the justice, wisdom and power of the Confederate Government which will do more to insure the fidelity of the people of East Tennessee than all the severity of punishment advised by the violent partisans of that section who have provoked the prejudices of the people against themselves and consequently against the Government of which they were supposed to be the true exponents.
H. R. AUSTIN.
Knoxville, Tenn., January 7, 1862.
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General, Richmond, Va.
SIR: General Carroll having left this post yesterday I deem it my duty to take charge of the political prisoners now in confinement here. Their number is understood to be 130; has lately been increasing and with others expected to be captured soon I do not see how the court-martial is to keep pace with the exigencies of the occasion. Besides that mode of proceeding is very expensive and in my opinion an equally just and more summary disposition of those cases would be attended with happier results to the Government.
Under this conviction and acting in the spirit of the orders hitherto received by me I shall dissolve the court-martial convened by General Carroll on its determination of the few purely military cases yet to be tried and shall proceed with the political offenders as I have heretofore done at Greeneville.
If this course be not approved by the Department I beg to be promptly advised to that effect by telegraph. Captain Monsarrat who seems to be an excellent officer is the immediate commander of the post and I judge that there will be little occasion for interference with his functins as such.
Can any more prisoners be received at Tuscaloosa?
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,