Reprinted in Oliver Perry Temple, East Tennessee and the Civil War (Cincinnati, OH: The Robert Clarke Company, 1899), 390-391.
Colonel W.B. Wood
The following text is presented here in complete form, as it originally appeared in print. Spelling and typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.
Sir, your report of the 20th instant is received, and I proceed to give you the desired instructions in relation to the prisoners taken by you amongst the traitors in East Tennessee. First, all such as can be identified as having been engaged in bridge burning are to be tried summarily by drum-head court-martial, and if found guilty, executed on the spot by hanging. It would be well to leave their bodies hanging in the vicinity of the burned bridges. Second, all such as have not been so engaged are to be treated as prisoners of war, and sent with an armed guard to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, there to be kept imprisoned at the depot selected by the government for prisoners of war. Wherever you can discover that arms are concealed by these traitors, you will send out detachments, search for and seize the arms. In no case is one of the men known to have been up in arms against the government to be released on any pledge or oath of allegiance. The time for such measures is past. They are all to be held as prisoners of war and held in jail till the end of the war. Such as come in voluntarily, take the oath of allegiance, and surrender their arms, are alone to be treated with leniency.
Your vigilant execution of these orders is earnestly urged by the government.
Your obedient servant,
J. P. Benjamin, Secretary of War.
P. S.—Judge (David T.) Patterson, Colonel (Samuel) Pickens, and other ringleaders of the same class must be sent at once to Tuscaloosa to jail as prisoners of war.
In Eastern Tennessee, local Unionists burn five railroad bridges prompting a furious Confederate response
In Greeneville, Tennessee, the Confederate military executes two local Unionists for burning railroad bridges