HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF WESTERN KENTUCKY,
Louisville, November 30, 1862.
Major General H. G. WRIGHT,
Commanding Department of the Ohio, Cincinnati, Ohio.
GENERAL: I have received no orders or instructions for execution of General Orders, Numbers 49, modified by you, since I reported to you the action under the existing orders. Colonel Hoffman telegraphs, "Send rebel deserters to Camp Chase. " Now, general, the execution of Orders, Numbers 49, and its modifications with all errors that may be committed were infinitely better than to send all rebel deserters to Camp Chase. The expense to the Government will be very great, and the evils resulting from such a policy will be incalculable, to say nothing of the great injustice to individuals. Many of these new recruits deserting are small boys from under fourteen to eighteen years of age-foolish, deluded youths, who should not be confined with a pack of scoundrels. Many of them are ignorant men, made to believe they were conscripted - some forced into the service and some inveigled into the rebel army. Nearly the whole of them are deserters, some being paroled at their request supposing it released them from rebel obligations. If extreme measures are taken forcing these men to Vicksburg we convert our State into a recruiting field to fill the thinned and decimated ranks of the rebels. If they are forced to prison they will never surrender themselves but make their way South, or form bands in our State rather than be immured in prisons. I feel sure I would prefer anything rather than be sent to prison, and I doubt not these men will; whereas a lenient policy compared to this will recover these men from their fallen condition and win them to allegiance to the Government and restore them to good citizenship. There are a good many of these men who ought to be sent North and some who should be confined in prison. But the great body of them are better men, better citizens and deserving more leniency than hundreds in the city and thousands in the State who enjoy the protection of the Government in their lives and property and business. The Secretary of War has repeatedly complained as I understand his communications against arrest of this class of citizens who are tenfold more guilty than these deserters. I have a very large acquaintance throughout this State and I think I can form a pretty correct judgment in regard to these men and can separate pretty justly between the classes who should be released and those who should be sent to Vicksburg or to prison. Besides these rebel recruits deserting there are a good many deserters of Northern birth and foreigners belonging to Northern States. Surely these men should not be sent to prison or to Vicksburg. There are yet in the rebel army hundreds of them who will desert if opportunity offers. Shall all inducement to desert be withdrawn? Shall we punish for desertion from the rebel army? Shall we announce to them that they shall have a felon's cell in our prisons or be sent to Vicksburg to what then shall be done with discharged rebels - with those who served their time out, who wish to remain at home or go North? I beg, general, that you will submit this subject with this letter to the Government if you do not feel authorized to give orders for execution of the modified orders on this subject. I cannot doubt that these views will meet your approval as they are in perfect harmony with the modifications made by you.
I regret very much to be placed continually in a position to subject me to censure at one time for extreme rigor and severity and at another