HEADQUARTERS C. S. ARMIES, March 23, 1865.
Lieutenant General U. S. GRANT, Commanding U. S. Armies:
GENERAL: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 13th [14th] instant with the inclosed paper relative to an alleged attempt to murder a Federal officer while a prisoner of war, and the murder of two others. In reply I beg leave to say that I know nothing of the facts stated in the communication, nor does it afford me the means of ascertaining them. The act complained of, if committed, was done without any authority, and is at variance with the rules by which the Confederate Government endeavors to conduct hostilities. It was probably one of those acts of unauthorized violence proceeding from individual passions, which it is difficult to prevent, but which are not the less to be lamented. Many similar outrages committed upon the persons of Confederate soldiers and citizens by persons in the Federal service have been reported to me, which I trust admit of the same explanation. I endeavor by every means in my power to prevent such violations of the rules of civilized warfare, which only tend to inflame feelings already unfortunately too much embittered, and which unavoidably reflect upon the party to which the perpetrators belong.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
HEADQUARTERS POST OF MURFREESBOROUGH,
Mufreesborough, Tenn., March 23, 1865.
Brigadier General W. D. WHIPPLE,
Asst. Adjt. General, Chief of Staff, Dept. of the Cumberland:
GENERAL: The four citizens held by me as hostages for the safe return of two Union citizens (Follen and Smith) carried off by Hood's army have applied for their release, Mr. Follen having made his escape from the rebels and returned home, and Mr. Smith having died. Mr. Follen has reported to me since his return, and the accompanying copy of a letter to Mr. Smith's friends certifies his death. In application of this application for the release of these hostages I mentioned the case to the general commanding when at Nashville two weeks since. He was not disposed to release them, but calculated to hold them for Union citizens still in the hands of the rebels. These facts I mentioned to the friends of the hostages, but at their earnest solicitation forward their verbal application to be set at liberty.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. P. VAN CLEVE,
Brigadier-General, Commanding Post.
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF VICKSBURG,
Vicksburg, Miss., March 23, 1865.
Major General N. J. T. DANA,
Commanding Department of the Mississippi:
GENERAL: I went out with Captain Williams yesterday to a conference with Colonel Watts. Colonel Watts claims that he did not send these men in under the contract entered into with me because of reservation in it, but he started them upon the receipt of a dispatch from General Grant, furnished to him by General G. H. Thomas, a copy* of
* Not found as an inclosure, but it was probably Grant to Thomas, February 16, 1865, for which see Series I, Vol. XLIX, Part I, p. 725.