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[247] steady progress toward a practice which we abhor, and which we are vainly struggling to avoid.

Under these circumstances, this government has issued the accompanying general order, which I am directed by the President to transmit to you, recognizing Major-General Pope and his commissioned officers to be in the position which they have chosen for themselves — that of robbers and murderers, and not that of public enemies, entitled, if captured, to be treated as prisoners of war. The President also instructs me to inform you that we renounce our right of retaliation on the innocent, and will continue to treat the private soldiers of General Pope's army as prisoners of war; but if, after notice to your Government that they confine repressive measures to the punishment of commissioned officers who are willing to participate in these crimes, the savage practices threatened in the orders alluded to be persisted in, we shall reluctantly be forced to the last resort of accepting the war on the terms chosen by our enemies, until the voice of an outraged humanity shall compel a respect for the recognized usages of war. While the President considers that the facts referred to would justify a refusal on our part to execute the cartel by which we have agreed to liberate an excess of prisoners of war in our hands, a sacred regard for plighted faith which shrinks from the semblance of breaking a promise precludes a resort to such an extremity, nor is it his desire to extend to any other forces of the United States the punishment merited by General Pope and such commissioned officers as choose to participate in the execution of his infamous order.

I have the honor to be very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R. E. Lee, General Commanding.

Reply of General Halleck.

Headquarters of the army, Washington, August 9, 1862.
General R. E. Lee, Commanding, etc.:
General: Your two communications of the second instant, with inclosures are received. As these papers are couched in language exceedingly insulting to the Government of the United States, I must respectfully decline to receive them. They are returned herewith.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

H. W. Halleck, General-in-Chief, U. S. Army.

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