teen all told, while on a voyage from New York to New Orleans, with a cargo of merchandise on private citizens' account, and burned, some twenty miles from the Balize, near the mouth of the Mississippi River. The captor was the steamer Boston, under the command of one James Duke, assisted by fifteen others. She (the Boston) had been captured the day before by this same crew. The pilot of the Texan was allowed to go free; but the captain and crew were sent to Mobile and thence, as it appears from a letter received from the mate, Mr. Sawyer, dated June 26, to the Libby Prison in Richmond.
We would therefore respectfully ask that you would use your influence, official and personal, so far as is consistent with the public good, that these men may be paroled, exchanged, or otherwise relieved from their present confinement.
[And nine others.]
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF,
New Orleans, September 3, 1863.
Major General RICHARD TAYLOR,
Commanding Confederate Forces, Western Lousiana:
GENERAL: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter referring to the arrest of citizens between Opelousas and Alexandria immediately after the murder of Captain Howard Dwight, an officer of my staff. The operations in which I was then engaged and the subsequent release of the citizens arrested under that order have occasioned delay in responding to your inquiry.
I directed the release of the citizens arrested in pursuance of this order, first, because they had not received previous notice of my determination in such cases, and second, because at the time of the release they had suffered sufficiently to make known to the people of the community in which they lived the consequences of such crimes as that to which the order referred. I desire to say to you that I shall act upon the principles stated in my order, a copy of which I believe was sent to you, whenever such occurrences as that to which it relates shall be repeated. It is in accordance no principles of justice, but with the usages of civilized warfare. I need not refer you to instances of this character that have occurred in the campaigns of the ablest generals of Europe. I appreciate fully, general, the justice of the sentiment you express in your note in regard to the course to be pursued in the unhappy contest in which we are engaged, but they do not apply to the case of Captain Dwight. There is no officer more earnestly desirous of ameliorating the severities of war than myself, but I believe that the recognition of just principles of punishment, in cases deserving it, and making that determination public, will be among the most effective methods of restraining men to lines of conduct which they can consistently and honorably pursue. It was for this purpose that my order was issued and executed. I respect the rights of men engaged in war, because they are responsible for their acts, and whenever any man falls in battle or is captured I am desirous of extending to him to the utmost of my power every assistance he can require. It is because as a soldier he is bound to perform the duties of a soldier, and he ought to suffer only the legitimate consequence of his acts. But men who abandon the ranks of their army, lagging behind upon plantations, in villages and towns, throwing off the equipments and customs of a soldier, have no right to the immunities of soldiers if they assume to exercise his power of wounding or killing those whom