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387
Executive Department;
Montgomery, Ala. May 8th, 1863.
Hon. James A. Seddon; Secretary of War; Richmond.
Sir; I am advised that among the prisoners recently captured, near Rome, Geo, are officers found serving,
within the limits of the State of Alabama, with armed Slaves, & inciting Slaves to insurrection within this State.
If this information proves to be correct, the departure from the rules of civilized warfare, will & should deprive
them of the benefits of any convention - giving them the privileges of prisoners of War; and render them amenable
to the Laws of the State of Alabama, as criminals. In order that the military authorities might not be trammelled
by action in advance, which might prejudice the claim of the State of Alabama upon these prisoners.
I telegraphed to Gen. Bragg my intention to demand them for trial, under the laws of this State,
& the propriety of granting it can be easily determined, upon the report, which Gen. Forrest will make
of the results of his expedition. If his report should state the fact to be, as I have been
informed, the case of these officers will be, clearly, within the announcement of the intention
of the President, in relation to the Proclamation of President Lincoln, that they shall
be surrendered, on demand, to the State authorities for trial. §. But another matter has
been brought to my notice, in reference to this capture, to which, I wish, especially, to call
your attention, not with a view to embarrassing the action of the Government, but to arrive
at just, & correct conclusions, as to the proper course to pursue, not only in relation to the
present - but to future captures of our own Citizens - willingly serving in the ranks of the
Enemy. §. Among the prisoners, captured by Genl Forrest, I understand there are two
Companies of Alabamians, who have enlisted, as such, in the army of the Enemy, &
having been engaged - with known enemies of the State, & the Confederate States, in act
not justified by any rule of War, or by necessity, have been captured upon the soil
of Alabama, not only levying War against the State, but instigating Slaves to
rebellion, & committing deeds of Rapine & destruction upon the property of her citizens,
without the excuse, which can pertain to Military necessity, or the course of War.
If the uniform of our enemy is to continue to protect their officers & men, in their
depredations & upon private property, & wanton destruction of commodities, which
cannot be classed as munitions of War, - to say nothing of assaults upon peaceful
citizens, & inhuman treatment of the helpless and unprotected, or their
instigation of our Slaves to leave their service, is it also to protect our recreant and
traitorous citizens, who, still claiming themselves as Alabamians, afford, to our
enemies, the means of striking at the heart of the State, & who, when captured -
claim the flag of our enemy as their protection? Ample opportunity was given to these
Traitors to cash in their lot with the enemy, & remove this reproach & stigma from
the State. With a forbearance, before unknown, one of the earliest acts of
the Confederacy, was to invite those who preferred the rule of our Enemies, to
leave our borders - in peace, and establish themselves in the government of
their choice. But these traitors preferred to remain, that their crime might
strike deeper, and their blow fall the heavier, and having chosen their
status, as citizens of a State of the Confederacy, they should not be allowed
to escape the penalty of Treason which they have invited. They stand as citizens
levying war, as well as giving aid & comfort to our Enemies. They have chosen
this position deliberately, well-knowing the penalty, rejecting the clemency of
the government, leaving, in many instances their dependent families upon
our Soil, to be supported by the charity of our people, and proclaiming their
intentionto lead or accompany the armies of our enemy, for our overthrow &
destruction §. If there could be any doubt as to their position, if captured
in legitimate warfare, in the ranks of our Enemies, that doubt must be
resolved, when they abandon such warfare, to engage in pillage of
private property, and murderous destruction of life. No Commision can
justify deeds of rapine & violence, committed apart from Military necessity
& in violation of the known rules of civilized warfare. §. Even if, through
motives of policy, we suspend the proper and fitting punishment of our
known enemies, citizens of hostile States, or aliens serving in their ranks,
who, under orders of their Superiors, commit such acts of Wanton depredation
the same reasons cannot apply to those marauders, who flaunt the flag
of their treason in our faces, and dare & defy us in their malice. §. I do
not wish to discuss the question, whether their treason to their own State is merged

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