Some of the military authorities seem to suppose that their end will be better attained by a savage war in which no quarter is to be given, and no age or sex to be spared, than by such hostilities as are alone recognized to be lawful in modern times. We find ourselves driven by our enemies by steady progress toward a practice which we abhor and which we are vainly struggling to avoid.
Under these circumstances this Government has issued the accompanying general order* which I am directed by the President to transmit to you recognizing Major-General Pope and his commissioned officers to be in the position which they have chosen for themselves, that of robbers and murderers, and not that of public enemies entitled if captured to be treated as prisoners of war.
The President also instructs me to inform you that we renounce our right of retaliation on the innocent and will continue to treat the private enlisted soldier of General Pope's army as prisoners of war, but if after notice to your Government that we confine repressive measures to the punishment of commissioned officers who are willing participants in these crimes the savage practices threatened in the orders alluded to be persisted in, we shall reluctantly be forced to the last resort of accepting the war on the terms chosen by our enemies until the voice of an outraged humanity shall compel a respect for the recognized usages of war.
While the President considers that the fact referred to would justify a refusal on our part to execute the cartel by which we have agreed to liberate an excess of prisoners of war in our hands, a sacred regard for plighted faith which shrinks from the semblance of breaking a promise precludes a resort to such an extremity. Nor it is his desire to extend to any other forces of the United States the punishment merited by General Pope and such commissioned officers as choose to participate in the execution of his infamous order.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
HEADQUARTERS EIGHTH ARMY CORPS,
Baltimore, Md., August 2, 1862.
Brigadier General L. THOMAS,
Adjutant-General U. S. Army, Washington, D. C.:
The accommodations at Fort McHenry are altogether too limited for the number of political prisoners and prisoners of war now confined there. I request that fifteen of them be ordered to be removed to Fort Lafayette.
[JOHN E. WOOL,]
FORT MONROE, August 2, 1862.
Honorable E. M. STANTON:
General Thomas has arrived with 2,200 prisoners of war from Fort Delaware. Eight hundred more are expected to-night. He has received your dispatch in relation to General Prentiss.
JOHN A. DIX,
* Omitted here; see p. 836.