War of the Rebellion: Serial 115 Page 0284 PRISONERS OF WAR, ETC.

Search Civil War Official Records

privateersmen. They are comfortable but rather crowded. I think all the state prisoners at Forts Lafayette and Warren can be examined in ten days.




Wheeling, Va., April 13, 1862.

Brigadier General L. THOMAS,

Adjutant-General U. S. Army, Washington, D. C.

SIR: I received to-day your note of the 9th inclosing Major-General Halleck's General Order, Numbers 9, sent to me by direction of the Secretary of War.

This order does not furnish me with any information which I did not already have. The trial by military commission of offenses not properly the subject of a court-martial was ordered by me and practiced under my administration in Missouri.

The question which I submitted to the decision of the Secretary of War referred rather to the mode of punishment and to the expediency of a public declaration concerning it than to the form of trial. The subject is comprehended in the two following points:

First What course shall be pursued toward officers and men of the rebel army who formerly citizens of Virginia are now returning into this department, claiming for themselves immunity in person and property upon the ground chiefly that they have thought it now expedient to abandon the Confederacy and conseqnetly desire to resume their old allegiance? The people of the Wheeling government are strongly opposed to the return of these persons among them, and in the opinion of Governor Peirpoint their presence here would involve the most serious difficultues.

Second. What course shall be pursued in relation to guerrillas bearing the commission of Governor Letcher or other Confederate authority? Much excitement has been created among the people here by a knolwedge of the fact the numerous bands are being organized in this department under the sanction of the Confederate authorities. It is officially reported to me that many commissions for this purpose have been sent into Western Virginia by Governor Letcher, and such commissions have been recently found upon the persons of guerrillas. Such bands are already making their appearance in different counties and are only waiting the coming of the leaves to go fully into their work. Whether as guerrillas or spies the sense of the country here is that these people should be summarily and severely punished.

Concerning these points there is entire unanimity of opinion between Governor Peirpoint and myself as well as with the public sentiment, but I judged them sufficiently important to require reference to the War Department. I accordingly desired to know if I should at without special instructions. It seems also expedient and al satisfaction that the course of proceeding to be adopted should be made known for the information of all parties interested.

I have to ask that you will procure me an early reply from the Secretary of War, and meantime I will so far as possible defer final action in any case.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,


Major-General, Commanding.