Today in History:

877 Series I Volume XXXII-III Serial 59 - Forrest's Expedition Part III


Benton, Miss., March 22, 1864.

General W. H. JACKSON,

Commanding, &c.:

GENERAL: When you first came to my headquarters I gave you a full and fair statement of what had occurred with Colonel Wharton and his regiment, and expressed a perfect willingness to see the whole command broken up rather than establish the dangerous precedent. You could suggest no remedy, and did not imply that my conduct could be censured. I am willing to do my duty still. You direct me to cause the arrest of all officers and men engaged. Colonel Wharton does not know who they were, with on exception. He thinks Captain Rosamond was using some effort to suppress the trouble and quiet the excitement. It will afford me pleasure to arrest those whom I can prove to be guilty.

I desire to impress the fact, very respectfully, upon the minds of yourself and my superior officers generally, that I have had but little encouragement or assistance in resorting to military law or courts-martial in punishing offenders in this brigade. I have many officers now in arrest with charges hanging over them, and some of them have been in arrest more than one year without trial, or if tried, without having the findings of the court published. Officers of this brigade, in trying to curb the rebellious spirit of their commands, have appealed in vain for assistance; have asked for courts to be organized and prompt and speedy action taken to bring to trial and punishment these unruly spirits, that others might be deterred. I have arrested and released, after long confinement, these men and officers and returned them to duty so often, without trial, that military law has become obsolete, and I may as well write what I think. My command, influence, or authority over them does not depend on their respect for or fear of military law or authority, but simply their love for me as an individual. To whom does blame attach here? You require me to make some very serious charges against Colonel Wharton, and I would respectfully ask that the matter be deferred until it is understood clearly. I am unwilling to inflict so deep and lasting a disgrace upon him unnecessarily or without it is clearly mu duty to do so. I would rather suffer than be the cause of irreparable injustice to him. If it is my duty, I will act conscientiously.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,



March 22, 1864.

Brigadier-General JACKSON:

GENERAL: Your note, demanding the reason why your order of 12th instant in reference to Colonel Wharton was not carried out, has just been received. I have the honor to inform you that I at once upon its reception ordered Colonel Wharton to assume command of his regiment in obedience thereto, and assured him that if he met with opposition I would support and sustain him. While on the way to visit the regiment, a short time subsequently, was informed that Colonel Wharton did not take command of the