Doc. 4.-secessionists of West Virginia.
Major-General Hunter's order.
headquarters Department of West Virginia, in the field, Valley of Shenandoah, May 24, 1864.Sir: Your name has been reported to me, with evidence, that you are one of the leading secession sympathizers in this valley, and that you countenance and abet the bushwhackers and guer-rillas who infest the woods and mountains of this region, swooping out on the roads to plunder and outrage loyal residents, falling upon and firing into defenseless wagon trains, and assassinating soldiers of this command who may chance to be placed in exposed positions. These practices are not recognized by the laws of war of any civilized nation, nor are the persons engaged therein entitled to any other treatment than that due, by the universal code of justice, to pirates, murderers, and other outlaws. But from the difficulties of the country, the secret aid and information given to those bushwhackers by persons of your class, and the more important occupation of the troops under my command, it is impossible to chase, arrest, and punish these common marauders as they deserve. Without the countenance and help given to them by the rebel residents of the valley, they could not support themselves for a week. You are spies upon our movements, abusing the clemency which has protected your persons and property, while loyal citizens of the United States residing within the rebel lines are invariably plundered of all they may possess, imprisoned, and in some cases put to death. It is from you and your families and neighbors that these bandits receive food, clothing, ammunition, and information; and it is from their secret hiding-places in your houses, barns, and woods, that they issue on their missions of pillage and murder. You are, therefore, hereby notified, that for every train fired upon, or soldier of the Union wounded or assassinated by bushwhackers in any neighborhood within the reach of my cavalry, the houses and other property of every secession sympathizer residing within a circuit of five miles from the place of the outrage, shall be destroyed by fire; and that for all public property jayhawked or destroyed by these marauders, an assessment of five times the value of such property will be made upon the secession sympathizers residing within a circuit of ten miles around the point at which the offence was committed. The payment of this assessment will be enforced by the troops of the department, who will seize and hold in close military custody the persons assessed, until such payments shall have been made. This provision will also be applied to make good, from the secessionists in every neighborhood, five times the amount of any loss suffered by loyal citizens of the United States from the action of the bushwhackers whom you encourage. If you desire to avoid the consequences herein set forth, you will notify your guerrilla and bushwhacking friends to withdraw from that portion of the valley within my lines, and to join — if they desire to fight for the rebellion — the regular forces of the secession army in my front or elsewhere. You will have none but yourselves to blame for the consequences that will certainly ensue, if these evils are permitted to continue. This circular is not sent to you for the reason that you have been singled out as peculiarly obnoxious, but because you are believed to furnish the readiest means of communication with the prominent secession sympathizers of your neighborhood. It will be for their benefit that you communicate to them the tenor of this circular.