CAMP ON DEER CREEK,
Washington County, March 13, 1863.
Major J. J. REEVE, Assistant Adjutant-General.
MAJOR: I have the honor to make the following report: On the 15th [14th] of February, ultimo, I received by the hand of a citizen a letter from Captain E. W. Sutherland, U. S. Navy, a copy of which is herewith* forwarded. The department was at once informed of the result of that interview and furnished with the notice+ of Admiral Porter, them communicated by Captain Sutherland, who expressed his willingness to communicate at any time that it should be necessary by flag of truce.
On the 25th of same month I received instructions from Lieutenant-General Pemberton which I was ordered to communicate to Captain Sutherland or any other Federal officer. I at once sent by flag of truce a letter,++ a copy of which is herewith forwarded. After keeping the party with the flag of truce at Greenville for several days in the fruitless effort to communicate the ravages of the Abolitionists on Lake Washington compelled me to withdraw the party except a sergeant and one man, who I left at Greenville with the flag and letter. I accidentally learned from a citizen that on or about the 4th instant a gun-boat, the Curlew, landed a party who met the flag of truce, disarmed the bearers and took them on board, where they were rudely treated and their dispatch broken open and read. It was then returned to them with the remark that Captain Sutherland should be informed the letter was for him. About the time this news reached me and before I could communicate with the sergeant referred to I heard from a citizen that a gun-boat had landed and taken off two men.
I at once dispatched another party with flag of truce and letter,@ a copy of which please find inclosed, as well as a copy of the answer I received to it. I cannot learn by what boat they were taken and have not received an answer from Admiral Porter. Their horses and horse equipments I found at Greenville. Since the receipt of Captain Prichett's letter I have posted a picket at or near Greenville, but from the 23rd instant to that time I had no troops nearer there than twenty miles except the party with the flag, and I need not add that the assertion of Captain Prichett in regard to flags of truce is utterly false and that none but those mentioned herein have been sent or been seen there.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
S. W. FERGUSON,
U. S. GUN-BOAT PRAIRIE BIRD,
Greenville, March 9, 1863.
Commanding C. S. Forces, Washington County:
Your letter in regard to two of your men having been carried off while under a flag of truce has been received. In reply must state that I am not acquainted with the matter. I will immediately forward your letter to Rear-Admiral D. D. Porter, commanding Mississippi Squadron, and he will give you the direct information. It has been reported that flags of truce are almost constantly presenting themselves at this place
*See Series I, Vol. XXIV, Part III, p. 55.
+See p. 294.
++See Series I, Vol. XXIV, Part III, p. 67.