HEADQUARTERS THIRD DIVISION, SEVENTH ARMY CORPS,
Fort Smith, March 31, 1865.
Col. M. La Rue Harrison, Fayetteville, Ark.
It is reported to me that you have issued orders compelling all the people in Northwest Arkansas to join the colonies or they would not be permitted to raise any crops, and that there are many old men and widows with small boys who cannot join these colonies who will be left to starve. If you have issued such orders they must be revoked. I am clearly of opinion that such a policy is ruinous to the best interests of the people and the country. It is a military despotism. These colonies must be organized by the people for their own protection, and no person will be compelled to join. They will not be guaranteed any military protection whatever, and the military authorities will have nothing to do with coercing men to join them. I believe the colony system impracticable, but if the people want to try it they will be permitted and encouraged to do so. Loyal people, widows, and others, without teams will be permitted to cultivate their lands at home. The people residing in the country are not to be driven from their homes except for crimes against the Government, and are not to be molested, but will be protected by your command. You will immediately send me copies of all orders issued by you and continue to do so in future. It is also reported that an officer of your command said in a public speech in Fayetteville, in presence of enlisted men of your command, that he would burn the house and kill any man who would not join a colony. You will report the facts in this case. I have no use for such officers and will adopt measures to get rid of them.