Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Changing Times

The following letter, delivered under a flag of truce on this day in 1862, provides a fascinating insight to General Buell's reputation as an officer and a gentleman and the respect he is given by the southern aristocracy.  As the outcry for total war grows in the distant north,  Buell has earned a reputation among the Confederate generals as a man of honor.  Perhaps his position, exposed and far away from his base of supply in Louisville, has made him appreciate the wisdom of conciliatory practices as he hopes to avoid the wrath of the secessionist population that surrounds him.  In any event, this letter serves as an official interrogarotry as to whether the rules are changing or are to be thrown out altogether, and surely gave Buell a cause for concern.

Ref.:  http://ehistory.osu.edu/osu/sources/recordView.cfm?Content=023/0387

Major General D. C. BUELL,
Commanding United States Forces, &c.:


I have to bring to your notice the following: I have evidence which convinces me that a few days after Captain Brewster, of our service, had surprised and taken some men of your forces, a detachment of United States forces, under a Colonel Stewart, of Indiana Volunteers, captured a Georgian of Brigadier-General Forrest's command, and subsequently shot him while a prisoner because the detachment meantime had been fired into.

Three days subsequent to this act another detachment of the same regiment, possibly under another commander, captured another private of Forrest's command, who had been left sick at the house of one Brown, near Hill's Creek, Warren County, Tennessee. This man was also taken out and shot, according to the confession of the commanding officer.

I am also obliged to believe that a man by the name of Gougue, a member of Confederate States First Regiment Kentucky Cavalry, was taken prisoner and afterward put to death at or near the house of one Israel Hill, in the same county.

For these atrocious acts no measures of a retaliatory character have been ordered by the commander of the Confederate forces in this quarter, he being assured from your past conduct that if you are duly informed of the facts you will take prompt and efficacious measures to trace up and summarily punish those responsible for acts so contrary to all obligations of humanity, and he feels it needless to point out to you the inevitable consequences that must ensue from a repetition of such sanguinary violations of the rules of war.

It becomes my duty to ask your attention to another matter.An order of yours, Numbers 41, dated "In Camp near Huntsville, Ala., August 8, 1862," which has appeared in our newspapers, prescribes a course for the officers of your command which I respectfully submit to be in direct conflict with the third paragraph under article IV of the cartel arranged on the 22nd of July between Major General J. A. Dix, U. S. Army, and Major General D. H. Hill, C. S. Army, in behalf of their respective Governments, and by virtue of which all prisoners, of whatever arm of service, are to be exchanged or paroled in ten days from the time of their capture if it be practicable, &c.

This plainly makes it the duty of the capturing party to parole, and assuredly the execution of your order must nullify that requirement and in a short while lead to consequences of a dread character, which it is thought you can scarcely desire shall characterize the war on this border.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,Major-General, Commanding.

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