There remain of the guerrilla and irregular prisoners, many of them captured last fall and others along with them in prison, a large number of similar cases.
For the release of many of these prisoners a great influence and pressure is brought to bear. Many of them fall into had health, the circumstances of the families of others excite the sympathies of their neighbors and other circumstances combine to induce great efforts to release these prisoners.
I believe that some of them ought to be released, but a large proportion of them are as obstinate rebels as they ever were and it will not be safe to enlarge such characters while the war lasts. I respectfully suggest that such prisoners be passed through the lines to be exchanged.
A considerable number of such irregular prisoners who are being captured continuously are determined rebels whose purposes no length of imprisonment will change.
Would it not be advisable upon the capture of such men to exchange them at once? To detain them fills our prisoners at heavy expense to the Government?
Several rebel mails have been taken in the last few weeks and I find that a large number of women have been actively concerned in both secret correspondence and in carrying on the business of collecting and distributing rebel letters. I have now the evidence upon which these women can be convicted. I have for some time past been thinking of arresting and trying them but the embarrassment is to know what to do with them. Many of them are the wives and daughters of officers in the rebel service; for example, Mrs. Frost, a wealthy, influential woman, wife of the rebel General D. M. Frost; Mrs. McPheeters, wife of a rebel surgeon at Richmond; Mrs. Polk (and daughters), wife of Trusten Polk, lately of the U. S. Senate, and now in the rebel service as judge I believe; Mrs. Bredell, mother of Captain Bredell, on staff of rebel General Bowen, and very many others.
These women are wealthy and wield a great influence; they are avowed and abusive enemies of the Government; they incite our young men to join the rebellion; their letters are full of encouragement to their husbands and sons to continue the war; they convey information to them and by every possible contrivance they forward clothing and other support to the rebels. These disloyal women, too, seek every opportunity to keep disloyal alive amongst rebel prisoners. I have been appealed to very many times by our loyal people to know why these disloyal women were not sent through the lines to join their husbands and sons. I respectfully suggest that such an order be issued by the Secretary of War.
Again there is a large number of active, intelligent, wealthy, disloyal men in Saint Louis who keep up a constant intercourse with the rebel every means that they dare they urge them on in the rebellion. These men exercise a telling upon the rebels in arms and upon the disloyal masses in this State. Open, notorious disloyalty is preferred by these men to even a reputation for neutrality. They abstain from open acts, such as giving money, arms and other supplies, but their secret acts, words, associations and sympathies are unmistakably hostile to the Government and they openly rejoice at our reverses and lament at our victories. Forbearance toward this class of people was first adopted because it was thought that leniency would reform them, but that forbearance has settled into a usage which has produced evil consequences and has held these people to believe that it