HEADQUARTERS SECOND ARKANSAS CAVALRY,
In the Field, April 6, 1864.
Brigadier General J. B. SANBORN,
Commanding District of Southwest Missouri:
GENERAL: I am constrained by the circumstances that surround me in this section of the country at large is nothing but a nest and nursery of bushwhackers and lawless marauders and merciless, whose knowledge of the mountain paths and recesses affords them a safe retreat, while the friendly disposition of a good many, if not most, of the settlers gives them all facilities to avoid our scouting parties, carry the exploits of robbery and murder to within comparatively short distance of camp, and withdraw with impunity to their hiding-place. This is as only can be expected. The country is abundantly supplied with all the necessaries of life, and when we consider that the population is generally, if not almost wholly, very little depended on at best, that those of the people who are unconditionally loyal are not sure of their life outside of Federal camps, while the rebels, the disloyal, and tepid are left at full liberty to go about, till their farms, harbor and feed bushwhackers, and foster treason, it behooves us to inquire into the means of remedying the evil or of uprooting it.
I do not presume to propose any plan in the case, or even to made any suggestion; I simply expose the condition of affairs. I have afforded protection as much as my means would permit to all loyal people - people even of doubtful loyalty have sought and found refuge in my camp; nothing but what the absolute necessities of the command demanded was levied on the country. If anything beyond was taken either from rebel or Federal it was returned or pains taken to have it done. The most rigid conduct of my command avails nothing against the stubborn, passive disloyalty and the countenance given to brigandage.
The settlers are in great part linked by family ties, and while few of them are bold and proud enough to proclaim their loyalty and profess it at every risk, and disclaim all connection with treason in any shape and shade, others again, most in fact, are tinctured and are as ready to extend to guerrillas as to Federals. People, mainly females, pretending to be loyal, and claiming protection as such, at one place, find excuse at another place for harboring guerrillas and banditti; others make public boasts that they do it and will do it as long as they have anything to eat to give them.
The grown members of families of that character are waylaying the roads, while younger members are tilling the farms and planting the corn wherewith to feed those men and keep us this bush was another and another year. I earnestly request your prompt attention to this, general. I believe it to be a matter of cardinal importance.
I trust you will not only suggest a prompt and energetic plan to meet the difficulty and surmount it, and can ask for nothing but to be an agent in applying any remedy you may propose or order to be employed.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JAMES A. MELTON,
Major, Commanding Second Arkansas Cavalry.
Page 67 Chapter XLVI. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.-UNION.