February 5, 1864, Bonham,
Brigadier General Henry E. McCulloch to Lieutenant General E. Kirby Smith
HEADQUARTERS NORTHERN SUB-DISTRICT,
Bonham, Tex., February 5, 1864.
Lieut. Gen. E. KIRBY SMITH:
MY DEAR GENERAL: Circumstances go far to satisfy me and the thinking, seeing men of this section that disloyalty is widespread, that my brush men are deep in it, and the troops not entirely free from it, and I repeat again that some good troops must be sent here or this section of country goes up. I shall order the brush men down into Bowie County, so as to have them near General Maxey's troops and get them that much farther from this section, and have the new men between them and the Yankees. A Dr. Penwell left here two days ago for Fort Smith with a party of men to join the Federals, and there is a constant stream of them going with the view of coming back in the spring, and nothing will save this country but some strokes of bold, rigorous policy. Establish a court here, try and execute some of these fellows for desertion, and send some of these disloyal men who harbor deserters and spout treason to some safe place in heavy irons, to wear them during the war.
General Maxey's command are deserting by the score, and they will fall in with the brush men and resist or go to the Federals, and every man that goes to them benefits us, it is true, because these men do us more harm here than there, but it would be much better if we could catch and kill them after they start, or identify and punish them before they go. Quantrill has not moved a peg, and I have ordered him and his command arrested; got General Maxey to let Col. Stand Watie help Colonel Bourland do it; do not know how they will succeed, nor do I know what effect it will have on the country abroad. Here it will do good for the present, but cannot tell whether it will do good in the future if the war lasts long, because they will desert, steal horses, and come back for revenge if they are put in the army, but something must be done with them. They will not obey orders and I don't know what else to do. What shall I do with them after arresting them? My brush men must be treated the same way, and so will the company of returned deserters that I have here. They will do very nice here, but will not go to their commands. All want to go to the coast, where I shall send them, in order to place them where they can be safely arrested and sent to their commands, unless otherwise directed by you. To order them to their commands without arresting them is to turn them loose in the brush, and I have not the force to spare now to do it; and besides, they have done such good service here that they ought not to be arrested at this point, as it would be hard to explain the necessity for it. I have over 30 prisoners in the guard-house to be sent off, and have nearly all my cavalry out after deserters, so that I can scarcely furnish a guard to send with them, and the brush men are so thick through the country that I am compelled to send a strong guard every time. I would be gratified to hear from you very early.
Most respectfully and truly,
HENRY E. McCULLOCH.
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