Gen. William Nelson's Proclamation and Offer of Amnesty in Kentucky, October 17, 1861

Source citation
"Gen. Nelson's Proclamation" in Frank Moore, ed., The Rebellion Record: A Diary of American Events, with Documents, Narratives, Illustrative Incidents, Poetry, Etc. (New York: G.P.Putnam, 1862), III: 204. 
Type
Military record
Date Certainty
Exact
Transcriber
Transcription adapted from The Rebellion Record (1862), edited by Frank Moore
Adapted by John Osborne, Dickinson College
Transcription date
The following transcript has been adapted from The Rebellion Record: A Diary of American Events, with Documents, Narratives, Illustrative Incidents, Poetry, Etc. (1862).

To the People of Northeastern Kentucky now in arms against their National and State Governments:

FELLOW-CITIZENS : You have assembled together in arms against your Government, against your State, your neighbors, and in some instances your nearest relatives, without any cause, or any object that is worthy of brave and good men. What has your country done that you should rise against it, or what good will it do you to murder the people, burn and pillage the towns, and overthrow the Constitution and laws of Kentucky? If you could accomplish this you would be the most wretched as you would become the most wicked of men. The mass of you cannot wish to do this. But be assured the ruin you propose by your acts to bring upon the people of Kentucky will fall upon your own heads if you persevere.

Doubtless many of you have been misled by wicked and desperate men, bankrupt in fame and fortune, who hope to profit by the ruin of the Commonwealth. I sincerely believe that many of you have been deceived and led into rebellion, who this moment regret the step they have taken, and would return to their families and homes if they could do so in safety.

To all the people, therefore, who have, without due reflection, taken up arms against their country, and rebelled against both their nation and their State, I say, return home, lay down your arms, live in peace and friendship with your neighbors, and remember that at least you are Kentuckians. I promise that you shall not be molested either in person or property for what you have already done; on the contrary, I will protect you equally with all other citizens so long as you render obedience to those laws which you yourselves have made. I offer you a complete amnesty for what has past; you will be held accountable only for the future. But to secure this result you must return home within — days; after that time you will be treated as enemies, and must never more hope to see in safety your families or enjoy your property, until you have carried out the purpose of your wicked misleaders, and conquered the people of your State and overthrown the Government of your fathers.

As your fellow-citizen and a native of your State, I urge this offer upon you; should you reject it, the enlightened world, as well as the laws of your country, will hold you alone responsible for the shedding of fraternal blood.

WM. NELSON, Brig.-Gen. 

How to Cite This Page: "Gen. William Nelson's Proclamation and Offer of Amnesty in Kentucky, October 17, 1861," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, http://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/node/38000.