I also inclose copies of the list* of medical officers robbed during the battle of Stone's River, and Chaplain Gaddis' statement+ of the treatment of some wounded men on a hospital boat.
I presume your customs do not warrant subordinates in stopping communications addressed to their superior commanders, nor is it necessary to call attention to the discourtesy of an officer of high rank who had the meanness to stop such a communication and to abstract therefrom the inclosure, which he presumed to return because he was unwilling to forward it, the papers referring to his own conduct.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. S. ROSECRANS,
[NOTE. --See indorsements on the letter following. It is probable that the foregoing letter with its inclosures did not reach its destination, having been found with the files of the Department of the Cumberland.]
[Inclosure Numbers 1.]
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE CUMBERLAND,
Murfreesborough, Tenn., February 17, 1863.
General JOSEPH E. JOHNSTON, C. S. Army.
GENERAL: Yours of the 12th instant dated at Tullahoma by flag of truce is just received. I very much regret that you have not the power to redress the outrage and punish the perfidy which compels me to avoid communicating with General Bragg by flag of truce.
I was in hopes that by our joint efforts we should have been able to put the sacred claims of justice and humanity high above passion and revenge in the estimation of the troops of our respective armies and thus reduce the terrible amount of human suffering to the necessities of a state of war and those resulting from individual acts of crime and outlawry.
I know that no success would compensate for the degradation and shame that I should feel in allowing my troops to sneak in behind a flag of truce to make a capture or allowing them to go into battle dressed in your uniforms and carrying your colors or in robbing your surgeons of their private property, all of which was done by General Bragg's troops before and at the battle of Stone's River.
Inclosed is a copy of a list* of thirty-eight medical officers robbed.
Inclosed also is the statement+ of the Reverend Chaplain Gaddis, showing that under the tacit if not active sanction of General Wheeler a hospital boat loaded with desperately wounded and sick soldiers was fired into by musketry and artillery.
Now, general, my difficulty is that while these outrages actually occur it seems from the official statements of your officers that different reports come to them.
Thus General Bragg in one of his voluminous epistles to me complains that your prisoners were robbed of their clothing. I did not think it proper to say it to him but I do to you that in all my experience I have neither seen nor heard of anything of the kind. They have seldom if ever had blankets or clothing enough and have been provided with such things by my order when possible.
I only ask what I feel bound and resolved to observe--that which is right and humane according to the usages of civilized war.
+Omitted here; Gaddis to Rosecrans, p. 284.