“I am disposed, however, to deal as leniently as possible with all captives”

Nov 19 1862.  Gen. Ross has forwarded a letter from Rebel Gen. Van Dorn addressed to “Commanding Officer U. S. Forces, near La Grange” concerning the treatment of prisoners we have captured.

Abbeville, Miss., November 17, 1862.


I have to reply, in answer to your communication relative to Captain Haywood’s company of partisan rangers, I have made necessary inquiries relative to this company and find that he received full and proper authority to raise a battalion of cavalry and that they belong regularly to the Confederate service and are entitled to all the rights of Confederate troops.

I wish to inquire if Captain S. O. Silence, U. S. Army, recruiting officer First Tennessee Cavalry, has been accepted in exchange for Lieutenant C. Sulivane, my aide-de-camp, captured at Hatchie Bridge and paroled. Captain S. O. Silence, U. S. Army, was sent with Lieutenant-Colonel Ducat, U. S. Army, who bore a flag of truce to these headquarters from General Rosecrans about the 20th of October, 1862.

I have also the honor to acknowledge the receipt of Captain T. W. Harris, assistant adjutant-general, and Captain William Clark, assistant commissary of subsistence, captured at and near Holly Springs, who are received and acknowledged as prisoners of war, and their names will be sent as others to the proper authorities for exchange.




I replied,

La Grange, Tenn., November 19, 1862.

Major General EARL VAN DORN, Abberville, Miss.

GENERAL: Your note of yesterday in relation to Haywood’s cavalry and the release of Lieutenant Sulivane, your aide-de-camp, is just received. I will order the immediate release on parole of all of Captain Haywood’s men now in our hands. You may regard the release of Lieutenant Sulivane as final and complete and I will so regard that of Captain Silence.

Accompanying your letter was one from Chief of Cavalry W. H. Jackson relative to the seizure of two horses by Colonel Lee from hospital steward and medical director to his command and making inquiry whether this is to be regarded as a precedent. To this I only have to reply that it is following every precedent that has come to my knowledge since the beginning of the war. There has been no instance to my knowledge where one of our surgeons has been permitted after capture to retain his horse or even his private pocket instruments. In the very last instance of the capture of one of our surgeons by Southern troops at Britton’s Lane the surgeon was deprived of his horse. I am disposed, however, to deal as leniently as possible with all captives, and am willing in future to adopt as a rule of action that none of the necessary camp and garrison equipments or accompaniments of that class of persons who by agreement are exempted from arrest as prisoners of war shall be taken. This of course to be mutual by both parties.

I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,




The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 6, p 334-5

O.R., II, iv, 729

O.R., II, iv, 946-7

Comments are closed.