his position of a magnanimous foe to cast upon us reflections that sully our honor as his peers in all that constitutes the gentlemen, we feel it due to ourselves that we should meet his assertions with a plain and truthful statement with the hope that incorrect information has been the cause of this descent, and that when the truths here stated are presented to him he will be convinced of his error.
As you are aware, we were captured on the 14th of December, 1864, between the hours of 2 and 4 a. m. We were confined under guard until 10 o'clock p. m. of that day, when it was announced by a Confederate officer that General Stoneman was prepared to parole all medical and staff officers then present to report at Knoxville, Tenn., on the 20th of said month. We remonstrated against the limited time allowed for us to reach Knoxville and asked for transportation. The reply of the general was (which we can substantiate beyond a doubt) that he did not require us to report upon the very day specified in the parole, but expected us to be as prompt as circumstances would admit. As to transportation, we were at liberty to collect horses abandoned in the raid, which by a little rest and feed would be able to take us to Knoxville. We also applied to him for protection while en route in compliance with the conditions of our parole. This was at first refused,but subsequently we were informed that Colonel O'Neal, of the Fifty-fifth Regiment Kentucky (Federal)Volunteers, would return to bean's Station the next morning (15th), and all who were prepared could accompany him. But even of this privilege some of us were ignorant, to the moment of his departure, and were thus unable to avail ourselves of the means of protection. The country in the vicinity of Bristol was then infested with bushwhackers and stragglers from all quarters, and everything was in a state of confusion, alarm, and uneasiness. Was it but natural then that those of us who have families to leave, with but the slightest protection in all this excitement, and among entire strangers, too, were willing to take the chances by remaining of being robbed, plundered, and even murdered on the way, in order to place them in a more secure and comfortable situation? We did noting more than this, and the very moment we had thus located them and procured our horses we took up the line of march to Knoxville. All arrangements were made by the 17th, and on the morning of the 18th we started on our journey.
It appears that General Stoneman is laboring under the impression, which is false, that we remained at Bristol until the reoccupation of the country by the C. S. forces, and long after the time had expired in which we were required to report. When we set out for Knoxville we had sufficient time to reach there had we not been prevented. The C. S. troops did not occupy the country through which we had to pass for ten days after the raid, consequently it was impossible for us to have been recaptured by the C. S. forces proper; but when we had proceeded as far as Blountsville, Tenn., we were arrested by a company of scouts under Captain Bachman, Provisional Army, C. S., which body of men had never left Tennessee from the time the raid began, but had remained in rear of the enemy, harassing and annoying them whenever they could. We protested against our detention and requested Captain B. to allow us to proceed, but to no purpose. He brought us to Bristol under guard, where we were released with the understanding that we would report to General Breckinridge, commanding Department of Southwest Virginia and East Tennessee.
You will see by the wording of our passes, a copy of which is herewith inclosed, that we were allowed an indefinite time in which to comply with the requirements of our parole, and no blame should have been