Partisan Rangers and private citizens captured by the enemy.
In reply to a letter addressed to him by the Hon. John B. Clarke
, the Secretary of War
makes an important explanation in relation to the status
of the Partisan Rangers, and clearly states what will be expected in their behalf in the event of capture by the enemy.
also makes an inquiry concerning the treatment to be demanded in behalf of private citizens of the Confederate States
captured while making resistance to any attempt of the enemy to invade their domicils.
The reply of the Secretary
is as follows:
--I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 15th inst, and to reply that Partisan Rangers are a part of the Provisional army of the Confederate States
, subject to all the regulations adopted for its government, and entitled to the same protection as prisoners of war; Partisan Rangers are in no respect different from troops of the line, except that they are not brigaded, and are employed oftener on detached service.
They require stricter discipline than other troops to make them efficient, and without discipline they become a terror to their friends and contemptible in the eyes of the enemy.
With reference to your inquiry as to the protection which the Government
will extend to private citizens taken in hostile acts against the enemy, it is not easy to lay down a general rule.
War, as conducted by civilized nations, is usually a contest between the respective Governments of the belligerents and private individuals remaining quietly at home are respected in their rights of person and property.
In return for this privilege they are expected to take no part in hostilities unless called on by their Government.
If, however, in violation of this usage, private citizens of Missouri
should be oppressed and maltreated by the public enemy, they have unquestionably a right to take arms in their own defence, and if captured and confined by the enemy under such circumstances, they are entitled, as citizens of the Confederate States
, to all the protection which that Government can afford, and among the measures to which it may be needful to resort, is that of the less saltonis.
We shall deplore the necessity of retaliation, as adding greatly to the miseries of the war without advancing its objects; and, therefore, we shall act with great circumspection, and only upon facts clearly ascertained; but if it is our only means of compelling the observance of the usages of civilized warfare, we cannot hesitate to resort to it when the proper time arrives.
Your obedient servant, G. W. Randolph
. Secretary of War