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[419] in a situation to get large supplies from a country still abundant, to prevent raids on points westward, and keep tories in check, and hang them when caught.

From a private, who was one of the guard that brought the batch of prisoners through, we learn that Colonel Shaw was shot dead by a negro soldier from the other side of the river, which he was spanning with a pontoon-bridge. The negro was watched, followed, taken, and hanged after the action at Thomasville. It is stated that, when our troops entered Thomasville, a number of the enemy took shelter in the houses and fired upon them. The Yankees were ordered to surrender, but refused, whereupon our men set fire to the houses, and their occupants got bodily, a taste in this world of the flames eternal.

The Government of the United States has wisely seen fit to enlist many thousand colored citizens to aid in putting down the rebellion, and has placed them on the same footing in all respects, as her white troops. The orders of the President are so just, full, and clear, that I inclose a copy for your consideration:

war Department, Adjutant-General's office, Washington, D. C., July 31, 1863.
General orders, No. 252.

The following order from the President is published for the information and government of all concerned:

Executive mansion, Washington, D. C., July 30, 1863.
It is the duty of every government to give protection to its citizens of whatever class, color, or condition, and especially to those organized as soldiers in the public service. The law of nations, and the usages and customs of war, as carried on by civilized powers, permit no distinction as to color in the treatment of prisoners of war as public enemies. To sell or enslave any captured person on account of his color, and for no offence against the laws of war, is a relapse into barbarism, and a crime against the civilization of the age.

The Government of the United States will give the same protection to all its soldiers; and if the enemy shall sell or enslave any one because of his color, the offence shall be punished by retaliation upon the enemy's prisoners in our possession.

It is therefore ordered that for every soldier of the United States killed in violation of the laws of war, a rebel soldier shall be executed; and for every one enslaved by the enemy or sold into slavery, a rebel soldier shall be placed at hard labor on the public works, and continue on such labor until the other shall be released and receive the treatment due to a prisoner of war.

By order of the Secretary of War.

E. D. Townsend, Assistant Adjutant-General.


Believing that this atrocity has been perpetrated without your knowledge, and that you will take prompt steps to disavow this violation of the usages of war, and to bring the offenders to justice, I shall refrain from executing a rebel soldier until I learn your action in the premises.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

John J. Peck, Major-General.


Reply of General Pickett.

headquarters of the Department of North Carolina, Petersburgh, Virginia, February 16, 1864.
Major-General John J. Peck, U. S. A., Commanding at Newbern:
General: Your communication of the eleventh of February is received. I have the honor to state in reply, that the paragraph from a newspaper inclosed therein, is not only without foundation in fact, but so ridiculous that I should scarcely have supposed it worthy of consideration; but I would respectfully inform you that had I caught any negro, who had killed either officer, soldier, or citizen of the confederate States, I should have caused him to be immediately executed.

To your threat expressed in the following extract from your communication, namely, “Believing that this atrocity has been perpetrated without your knowledge, and that you will take prompt steps to disavow this violation of the usages of war, and to bring the offender to justice, I shall refrain from executing a. rebel soldier until I hear of your action in the premises,” I have merely to say that I have in my hands and subject to my orders, captured in the recent operations in this department, some four hundred and fifty officers and men of the United States army, and for every man you hang I will hang ten of the United States army.

I am, General, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. E. Pickett, Major-General Commanding.

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