|Chapter XXVIII. GENERAL REPORTS.
to make no actual which he cannot maintain. It brings our friends among the people into trouble and is injurious otherwise to our interests.
JAMES B. FRY,
Chief of Staff.
I have no doubt that General Morgan acted wisely, and that he had not force enough to attack the enemy in force. He certainly was not restrained from doing anything that duty and honor demanded.
The policy which I observed toward the people of the territory occupied by my army has been vehemently and bitterly assailed by a portion of the press, but I believe that reason and justice will sustain it on every source, whether of expediency or humanity. In entering on my command it was with an earnest willingness to devote my life to the object of restoring the Union, and I never doubted as to the course my duty required me to pursue. It was to defeat the rebels in arms whenever I could and to respect the Constitution and laws and the rights of the people under them as far as was possible consistently with a state of things which rendered military success a matter of primary importance for the restoration of the authority of the Government. This has been my rule of action from first to last. I did not undertake to punish men for opinion's sake or even for past acts, for Congress has prescribed the penalty for their offenses and the mode of proceeding against them. Men in arms I treated as enemies; persons not in arms I treated as citizens of the United States; but I allowed no man to preach or act treason after the progress of my army had brought him again under the protection as well as the authority of the Government.
I have, when necessary, given protection to the persons and property of peaceable citizens; and this I have done both to preserve the discipline of my troops and out of respect for the just rights of the people under the laws of war, if not under the civil law. When the public interest has required the use of private property for public purposes I have so used it, allowing just compensation for it as far as practicable; and this I did not only on the ground of justice, but as a measure of military expediency, for it enabled me to secure for my army necessaries which otherwise would have been concealed or destroyed.
The bearing of this question on the success of my military operations is something which I was bound to weigh well. It is recognized as one of great importance to the success of an invading army. Wars of invasion, always difficult, become tenfold so when the people of the invaded territory take an active part against the invading army. A system of plunder and outrage in such cases will produce the same effect of hatred and revenge that such treatment does under other circumstances among men, and the embarrassments resulting from them to the invading army become of the most serious nature.
These considerations are of such importance to success that there is no exception to the rule of securing the neutrality if not the friendship of the population as much as possible by just and mild treatment, and then, having given no good cause for hostility, to treat with kindness those who behave well and with severity those who misbehave.
Some months ago a statement appeared in the newspapers, on the reported authority of Gov. Andrew Johnson, that I had only been prevented by his resolute expostulations from abandoning Nashville when I moved north with my army in September last. He has since made the same assertion in a deposition. Whenever I have spoken on this subject I have denounced the statement as false and I now repeat that denunciation. I am very willing to bear the responsibility of my
|Chapter XXVIII. GENERAL REPORTS.