Today in History:

80 Series I Volume XX-II Serial 30 - Murfreesborough Part II


Cincinnati, Ohio, November 21, 1862.

Major-in-Chief, U. S. Army, Washington, D. C.:

GENERAL: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 18th instant, inclosing a newspaper communication from George W. Lane, of Alabama, to the honorable Secretary of War, in regard to the policy to be pursued by our military authorities in the West toward rebels not in arms, and calling attention to that adopted by General Buell in his General Orders, Numbers 49, toward the rebels in Kentucky.

You also inform me that it has been reported that I am pursuing just the reverse course, and that a committee of gentlemen from the West visited the War Department some days ago to ask my removal, on the ground that I was pursuing too milk and water a policy toward the rebels in Kentucky, one specification of the complaint being that I had revoked General Buell's Orders, Numbers 49. Where the gentlemen referred to obtained their information I am at a loss to guess even, certainly not from me, or from any published order of mine. The truth of the assertion can, perhaps, be best determined by a narrative of the facts.

On the 31st of last month I went to Louisville, and on my arrival there was shown the Orders, Numbers 49, of General Buell, by General Boyle, in command at Louisville, who stated that he found himself much embarrassed in t out, in consequence of the peculiar circumstances attending many of the cases coming up under it; and he asked my instructions in the matter. The whole subject was carefully considered and discussed with General Boyle, whose knowledge of the condition and the people of Kentucky gave his views much importance, in my judgment. I should here remark that while the subject was under consideration, General Boyle presented a letter from General Buell, which I had not before seen, essentially modifying Paragraph II of that order. A copy of that letter is sent herewith. The order, as explained in the subsequent letter of General Buell, needed modification, in my judgment, and was made in a brief letter of instructions to General Boyle, dated November 1 (a copy of which is herewith), in the following particulars and for the following reasons:

1st. Many of the recruits for the rebel army, who had been induced by false representations to join it, had repented of their course, and had actually deserted therefrom. To send such persons to Vicksburg would not only subject them to the penalty of desertion, but would be in violation of the well-established principle of military policy-to weaken the enemy by encouraging desertion from his ranks. To deliver over bona fide deserters to the enemy would be an act unheard of in any warfare. If recognized as deserters by us, they are entitled to all the liberty compatible with our own safety. Hence the first paragraph of the instructions to General Boyle.

2nd. The second paragraph explains itself, with the remark that I have several times received instructions from Washington to release prisoners of war on their taking the oath of allegiance. Hence the latter part of the second paragraph.

3rd. General Orders, Numbers 49. of General Buell, provides that "all persons who have actively aided or abetted in the invasion of Kentucky by rebel troops within the last three months will be sent to Vicksburg and forbidden to return to Kentucky, "but his subsequent letter to General Boyle so modifies or explains this as to make it, in my judgment, practically a nullity. I ordered that they should be arrested, proof of their guilt furnished, and, if such proof were deemed sufficient, that they be