We must strive to avoid giving the rebels an opportunity to charge us with following their barbarous example in shooting down unoffending prisoners on trifling pretexts.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Colonel Third Infantry and Commissary-General of Prisoners.
HEADQUARTERS CAMP FERGUSON,
Lawrence County, Ark., February 3, 1864.
Colonel R. R. LIVINGSTON:
DEAR SIR: Captain E. O Wolf, who goes to Batesville under a flag of truce with a detail of four men, will deliver to you four prisoners, soldiers of your command, captured by him on the
. Their names, as they represent, are as follows: James W. Guion, corporal of Company L, Eleventh Missouri Cavalry; W. J. Farguson, private of Company D, Eleventh Missouri Cavalry; Lewis Clark, private of company D, Eleventh Missouri Cavalry, and William A. Adair, private of Company L, Eleventh Missouri Cavalry. I have paroled these men until they are exchanged for, and wish to have in return for them Jesse Ritchie, of company K (Captain Wolf); Fry, of Company C; Peter Young,, of Company I, and Washington Mitchell, a detailed teamster-all privates.
The above named, I believe, are all now prisoners at Batesville, and I desire to have the exchange made at once, so that Captain Wolf may bring them back on his return.
The four prisoners belonging to my command whom you agreed to have exchanged for the four sent by you with?Captain Grace have not as yet reached my camp. I hope you will have them sent to me as early as possible. You informed mein your last communication that you were ordered to put to death all Confederate soldiers wearing the uniform of the U. S. Army. this cannot be a general order, or it is not always executed, for there are hundreds of our Confederate prisoners who have been taken in that uniform or hoisting its flag. Furthermore, your own soldiers, when on the march through the country, frequently send their advanced dressed in citizens' clothing for the purpose of deceiving us or the citizens, and if you should put to death all Confederate soldiers dressed in federal uniform you could not blame me for putting to death all Federal soldiers taken without their entire uniform. Again, should any of my men be killed for wearing the above named uniform it would engender as portent of retaliation among my soldiers, and the result would be that the war in this section of the country would be carried on more like barbarians than civilized people.
You, I am sure, know that no one could prevent soldiers(or even blame them for it) from killing prisoners when their won comrades had been put to death after being taken, for the simple reason of wearing the enemy's uniform.
Such a state of things as would result from the execution of said order I do not wish to see; whenever prisoners have fallen into my hands I have endeavored to treat them as well or even better than my own men. Your men were stripped of their clothing before they reached me, and you cannot censure our soldiers for taking from yours whatever they wish, when your own scouts strip our so fall they want, including money and other private property.