in which you express your intention of selecting three officers of equal rank from this command whose treatment shall be regulated by that extended to the officers named, and whose fate shall be decided by theirs. Simply noticing the facts, and without entering into a discussion in regard to them, that the officers referred to by you were captured far within our lines, without a command, and engaged in recruiting for and obtaining information for the benefit of the enemies of the United States, and that you have no officers of this command captured under similar circumstances in your possession, I will state that acting under instructions from the War Department I have forwarded to Fortress Monroe, for exchange, Colonel Morris and Major Steele.
C. K. Johnson, who claims to be a lieutenant-colonel in the Confederate service, though I have no evidence to corroborate his statement, has been tried before a military commission on the charge of being a spy. The proceedings of the commission have not yet received final action and Johnson is held in close confinement awaiting such action.
I cannot recognize as prisoners of war officers and men belonging to the Confederate service captured in a loyal State not attached to any recognized portion of the Confederate Army and engaged in assisting and inciting to acts of murder and robbery the roving bands of outlaws and guerrillas now infesting this State. Nor do I recognize your right to regulate the treatment of any officer of this command who may be a prisoner of war in your hands by that which is accorded C. K. Johnson, whom I do not consider an officer, and the circumstances attending whose arrest are not such as entitle him to the privileges of a prisoner of war.
Should you after this explanation hold an officer of this command as hostage for him, I shall consider it my duty to retaliate in like manner.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
S. G. BURBRIDGE,
Brevet Major-General, Commanding.
KNOXVILLE, TENN., February 14, 1865.
Brigadier General JOHN C. VAUGHN, C. S. Army,
Commanding Cavalry, Dept. of West Virginia and East Tennessee:
GENERAL: In compliance with recent instructions from Washington I forward herewith three citizen prisoners, viz: A. C. Plumlee, William Hall, and Wayne Wallace. These are all the citizen prisoners in my charge that come within the scope of your agreement with General Carter. I am anxious to carry out that agreement fully and have done so as far as has lain in my power. Other citizens held by us are held for specific offenses against law and order, which your authorities, as well as ours, are bound to punish.
A prisoner recently escaped from Salisbury reports that citizens of East Tennessee are still confined there, and not only have had no intimation of their release, but have been most positively assured that they would not be released during the war unless they would enlist in the Confederate Army. I hope such is not the case.
I am authorized to say that if your part of the agreement with General Carter is not carried out in good faith immediately and full retaliation will be visited upon general officers of the Confederate Army now in our hands. I earnestly hope that a prompt fulfillment of the agreement will prevent the necessity of any such unpleasant measure.