War of the Rebellion: Serial 118 Page 0531 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. - UNION.

Search Civil War Official Records

but shall be willing for a suitable arrangement which would not subject the parties to such inconvenience.

We have a few prisoners here whose names will be given by the judge - advocate.

In reference to the prisoners paroled by you at Washita I would merely remark that only two of them ever reached our lines, and they had to swim Arkansas River in order to get away. I have no desire to be captions, but would of course require a prisoners to be put within our lines.

In reference to the Cherokees executed at Tahlequah you will pardon me for reminding you that you simply state the facts without any definite information as to what you propose doing in the future and permit me to doubt, which I shall be happy to do, that you approve of that tragedy. On this point I have instructed the gentlemen who visit you to be plain. I cannot for a moment admit any such proceeding, and if persisted in will have to try by court - martial similarly punish officers and soldiers who deserted the service of the U. S. Army to join the so - called Confederate service.

By the strict law of nations, as it was a rebellion, all engaged in this war against this Government might have been executed as insurgents.

Adopting a more humane polity the Government of the United States treated the insurgents as belligerents and have so far - although that point has never been formally determined on - liberated even officers and soldiers of the Regular Army who deserted it for your service. It does indeed appear strange to me that those who have so much to expect fro tolerance should raise such a point especially as the doctrine which professedly at least underlies secessionist is an assertion of the right to throw off ties of allegiance when they become irksome. In view of the whole matter I can only regard a disposition to kill prisoners in this war as growing out of a disposition to wage war in its most barbarous shape.

I deprecate such a system. I invite you by considerations of humanity to a more enlightened policy, but do not hesitate to assure you that I am prepared for the responsibilities of a different course.

Although I might have referred your proposition to a brigade commander I received it and answer it frankly myself, hoping that a candid discussion of the points involved will lead to a better understanding.

I have the honor to remain, yours, respectfully,


Colonel, Commanding.


Lebanon, Mo., April 28, 1863.

Major General H. STEGER,

Assistant Adjutant - General, District of Southwest Missouri.

MAJOR: I telegraphed to the colonel commanding Southwest District of Missouri on the 23rd that seven men were taken prisoners on their return from Springfield as escort to paymaster. They were taken in Dallas County, carried about fifty miles into Cedar County, stripped, murdered and thrown into a heap like so many hogs. Three of the soldiers thus murdered belonged to Company D and four to Company E to this regiment. The rebels were dressed in Federal uniform, and the men rode up to them as friends, when they were captured and most cruelly murdered. The there men of Company D were as good soldiers as ever shouldered a musket, always obedient, but on this occasion had