It must of necessity have been wanting in those public or authorized sanctions necessary to justify a public act of this nature, and how could the Secretary of War-how could any one-have imagined that General Butler would carry on a secret intercourse with the enemy over the name of another officer made a cat's paw of by both parties without his knowledge, even to the point of concluding an arrangement of a public character, and then assume to make a public declaration of it without the authority of the War Department, and without even reporting the particulars in the case.
In so plain a matter it would have been very extraordinary if the Secretary of War had waited for the suggestion of any one before putting his veto upon so unwarranted a proceeding, and now General Butler may reflect upon the fact that his assault upon the undersigned, in connection with the suspension of his declaration of exchange, must slide off from the object aimed at and fall upon a much higher personage.
If this communication betrays a deep sense of the wrong done me by General Butler over and above the official impropriety he has committed, and exhibits language not usually found in official communications, and such as I am not in the habit of suing, and such as I had proposed to myself not to indulge in, I beg the Secretary to consider the enormous provocation put upon me by General Butler, who, knowing my official rations to the head of the War Department, has charged upon me a "gross" breach of those relations-a charge at which every right-minded man who encounters it must shudder. The charge of murder even would have been felt as less degrading than that of making "gross misrepresentations" to the officer in whose staff I have the honor to hold a position.
When I first heard of this accusation, it was so entirely unexpected and so absolutely undeserved that I did not realize its enormity, and I thought it could not, as I intended it should not, mislead me into any departure from official courtesy in any notice I might be required to make of it. If I have departed in some degree from the rule I had proposed to myself, the binding obligations of which I admit in general, I respectfully ask the indulgence of the Honorable Secretary, through whom I am compelled to transmit this letter, in the writing of which I am forced to admit that my contact with General Butler' in the brief intercourse I have had with him has deeply impressed upon me the ancient truth, that "evil communications corrupt good manners. "
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
E. A. HITCHCOCK,
Major-General of Volunteers, Commissioner of Exchange.
HEADQUARTERS MARMADUKE'S DIVISION,
Camden, Ark., March 3, 1864.
Major General FREDERICK STEELE,
Commanding, &c., U. S. Army, Headquarters Little Rock, Ark.:
GENERAL: I learn that you have in your guard-house Captain Randall, Lieutenant Bradford, Lieutenant McCoy, and several private, all of my command and lately captured by some of your scouting parties. I further learn that Captain Randall (and perhaps the rest also) are miserably treated; the officers confined in dirty, filthy prisons, bad food, and sadly in want of the necessary clothing and blankets to keep them from suffering. I hope this is not true, yet my information comes in such manner that I am compelled to believe it. I cannot, however,