In all this I conform to well-established usages of war between regularly constituted belligerents because the magnitude of this unfortunate rebellion has in my judgment inaugurated and constituted a regular war. Irregular unauthorized banditti will not receive such consideration. General Price refused to exchange prisones taken in Missouri because they neither belonged to State nor Confederate organizations. Therefore the sneaking assassins who without badges of the soldier and in the disguise of private citizens and without authority of even a pretended government assail my pickets will be regarded as robbers and murderers and summarily disposed of. No determination of difficulties grow out of enighborhood broils and assassinations, but on the contrary such warfare corrupts the fountain of all social systems and must insure a perpetual flow of anarchy and confusion.
In regard to surgeons I have given great license, and at least in one case the surgeon of a Texas regiment behaved so badly by stealing the horse of the surgeon of the Ninth Iowa and two guns, and afterwards boasting of the felony, I must have more regard to the person who assumes the functions of the office and exclude those who do not seem to be gentleman.
I submit the orders of General Halleck as my guide in this regard, and another order of his in relation to prisoners (Nos. 33, 50, and 3).
I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
S. R. CURTIS,
JUNE 10, 1862.
Colonel J. C. McKIBBIN,
Aide-de Camp and Judge-Advocate, Department of the Mississippi.
COLONEL: I have just received your commuincation* dated the 4th instant returning the proceedings of a military commission convened in Saint Louis, they being "defective and based on ex parte statements,"&c. It is due to myself to make an explaation of these proceedings. I found soon after General Halleck left the city a large number of prisoners in Saint Louis; prisoners of war and criminals of all grades indiscriminately mixed together. Of many of them there was no record in the provost-marshal's office or elsewhere, nor any means of determining what dispostion should be made of them as their numbers increased beyond the capacity of the Saint Louis prisons. Many of them had been confined for months upon the simple charge of disloyalty, and many others for offenses not at all military, and some through the malice of their personal enemies. I therefore appointed a commission with instructions to examine all these cases so far as the records of the provost-marshal's office would enable them, to try such cases as were proper for trial and in which legal evidence could be obtained, and to recommend what dispostion should be made of others; in other words, to do what should have been done by the provost- marshal but was not. These recommendations were forwarded as a part of the proceedings of the commission, which I supposed should all go to the headquarters of the department.
I had intended in this manner to dispose of all such cases, and wrote to Colonel Kelton for instructions as to the extent of my authorty in the premises, when I received a copy of General Orders, No. 27, current