BUREAU OF MILITARY JUSTICE, Washington, August 5, 1864.
Honorable E. M. STANTON,
Secretary of War:
SIR: In compliance with your instructions I proceeded from Kentucky to Missouri, where I had full conference with Major- General Rosecrans, Colonel Sanderson, provost-marshal of the State, and others well instructed in regard to the condition of our military affairs in that district of country. As the result of these conferences and inquiries I have the honor to submit the following observations:
The recruiting of colored troops in Missouri may be regarded for the present as virtually closed. Between four and a half and five regiments have already been enlisted. When to these is added the large number of able-bodied men who have escaped to Kansas, or have been carried by their masters into the disloyal States, it is not estimated that more than the material for a single regiment capable of military duty remains; and from the very high price of labor and the extraordinary efforts made to retain them in agricultural pursuits, these, with limited exceptions, are not likely voluntarily to enter the military service.
Guerrilla bands have recently been unusually active throughout a large part of this State. They are more numerous and far more destructive nd sanguinary than corresponding bands in Kentucky. Every endeavor possible with the forces at their disposal is being made by the military authorities for their suppression. Had the policy of Major-General Burbridge, referred to in my former communication to yourself,* been adopted at an early day in this State it would not doubt have been followed by the best results. That, however, the terrible necessities of the times is enforcing a somewhat analogous policy may be inferred from the fact that but few, if any, prisoners of war of this class are taken. Guerrillas are upon the land what pirates are upon the sea. They are hostis humani generis, and are entitled to no quarters. Of these outcast robbers and murderers it is estimated that seventy were killed during the month of June and eighty during the month of July past.
It is a noticeable fact, and one which I cannot press too earnestly upon your consideration, that of these roving cut- throats, thieves, and incendiaries, the proportion of those who have taken the amnesty oath is, as in Kentucky, at least nine- tenths. This estimate is not conjectural, but is fully warranted by the proof. This condition of things affords another of the ever-multiplying evidences of the utter demoralization of the rebellion and of those supporting and sympathizing with it. These traitors recognize no obligation, human or divine, and the experiences of Missouri and Kentucky show that it is a mockery, if not an absolute insult to God, to administer an oath to the perjured miscreants or their allies in arms against our Government. In view of these facts General Rosecrans is most anxious that the amnesty proclamation shall be suspended in his department, which I would urge as a pressing necessity, in regard to which the loyal men and authorities of the States named are fully agreed.
Urgent as are the reasons for this step in Kentucky, they are believed to exist in still greater force in Missouri. The spirit of the rebellion has been in nothing so faithfully typified as in the atrocities
*See Series I, Vol. XXXIX, Part II, p. 212.
37 R R-SERIES III, VOL IV