States has since been credibly informed that numerous other officers of the army of the United States, within the Confederacy, have been guilty of felonies and capital offences which are punishable by all laws, human and divine. I am directed by him to bring to your notice a few of those. The best authenticated news-papers received from the United States announce as a fact that Major-General Hunter has armed slaves for the murder of their masters, and has thus done all in his power to inaugurate a servile war, which is worse than that of the savage, inasmuch as it superadds other horrors to the indiscriminate slaughter of ages, sexes, and conditions. Brigadier-General Phelps is reported to have initiated at New-Orleans the example set by Major-General Hunter on the coast of South-Carolina. Brigadier-General G. W. Fitch is stated in the same journal to have murdered in cold blood two peaceful citizens, because one of his men, while invading our country, was killed by some unknown person while defending his home. I am instructed by the President of the confederate States to repeat the inquiry relative to the cases of Mumford and Owen, and to ask whether the statements in relation to the action of Generals Hunter, Phelps, and Fitch are admitted to be true, and whether the conduct of these generals is sanctioned by their Government. I am further directed by his Excellency to give notice that in the event of not receiving a reply to these inquiries within fifteen days from the delivery of this letter, that it will be assumed that the alleged facts are true and are sanctioned by the Government of the United States. In such an event, on that Government will rest the responsibility of the retributive or retaliatory measures which shall be adopted to put an end to the merciless atrocities which now characterize the war against the confederate States. I am, most respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. E. Lee, General Commanding.
Adjutant-General's office on the fourteenth, but supposing from its indorsement that it required no further reply, it was filed without being shown to the President or Secretary of War. I learn to-day for the first time that such letter had been received, and hasten to reply. No authentic information has been received in relation to the execution of either John Owen or Mumford; but measures will be immediately taken to ascertain the facts of these alleged executions, of which you will be duly informed. I need hardly assure you, General, that, so far as the United States authorities are concerned, this contest will be carried on in strict accordance with the laws and usages of modern warfare, and that all excesses will be duly punished. In regard to the burning of bridges, etc., within our lines, by persons in disguise as peaceful citizens, I refer you to my letter of the twenty-second of January last, to General Price. I think you will find the views there expressed as not materially differing from those stated in your letter. In regard to retaliation by taking the lives of innocent persons, I know of no modern authority which justifies it, except in the extreme case of a war with any uncivilized foe, which has himself first established such a barbarous rule. The United States will never countenance such a proceeding unless forced to do so by the barbarous conduct of an enemy who first applies such a rule to our own citizens. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. W. Halleck, General-in-Chief U. S. Army.
Headquarters army of the C. S., near Richmond, Va., Aug. 2, 1862.General: In obedience to the order of his Excellency the President of the confederate States, I have the honor to make you the following communication: On the twenty-second of July last a cartel for a general exchange of prisoners was signed by Major-General John A. Dix, on behalf of the United States, and by Major-General D. H. Hill, on the part of this government. By the terms of that cartel it is stipulated that all prisoners of war hereafter taken shall be discharged on parole until exchanged. Scarcely had the cartel been signed when the military authorities of the United States commenced a practice, changing the character of the war from such as becomes civilized nations into a campaign of indiscriminate robbery and murder. A general order issued by the Secretary of War of the United States, in the city of Washington, on the very day that the cartel was signed in Virginia directs the military commanders of the United States to take the property of our people for the convenience and use of the army without compensation. A general order issued by Major-General Pope, on the twenty-third of July last, the day after the date of the cartel, directs the murder of our peaceful citizens as spies, if found quietly tilling their farms in his rear, even outside of his lines. And one of his Brigadier-Generals, Steinwehr, has seized innocent and peaceful inhabitants to be held as hostages, to the end that they may be murdered in cold blood if any of his soldiers are killed by some unknown persons whom he designates as “bushwhackers.” Some of the military authorities seem to suppose that their end will be better attained by a savage war in which no quarter is to be given and no age or sex is to be spared, than by such hostilities as are alone recognized to be lawful in modern times. We find ourselves driven by our enemies by
To the General Commanding the U. S. Army, Washington:
To the General Commanding the U. S. Army, Washington: