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48. Gen. Samuel R. Curtis to Lincoln on civil and military matters in Missouri


48. Gen. Samuel R. Curtis to Lincoln on civil and military matters in Missouri


Letter from General Samuel R. Curtis to Abraham Lincoln discussing Lincoln's expressed concerns about better coordination between Curtis and Governor Hamilton Gamble on Missouri matters, including those related to assessments, banishments, and the maintainance of civil authority. Additional discussion focuses on the failure of Confederate General John Marmaduke's recent Missouri raid. January 15, 1863. Copy.




Becki Plunkett and Stephen Vincent


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H'd Q'rs [Headquarters, ] Dept[.] of the Mo [Missouri][, ] St[.] Louis Jan[uar]y 15th 1863 Lincoln, His Exc[ellen]cy Pres[iden]t A. I had the honor to see a letter addressed to me but sent to Gov[.] [Hamilton] Gamble of the 5th inst[.] in relation to affairs in Mo [Missouri] and very properly urging a conference between us in regard to several matters relating to the administration of affairs in this state, which you say are giving you much trouble. In reply to this last idea I have great solicitude. I have seen lately a determination to oppress you with matters that certainly ought first to come before me. For the good of discipline, as well as justice to you, matters should as far as possible be adjusted by your subordinates. I regret that I published the suspension of assessments in this city as your order. I did so because I thought it would show your anxiety to be just and generous. But the effect has been to carry every thing to you, even before seeking proper redress elsewhere. If Dr[.] [Samuel B.] McPheeters had presented his case to me as he did to you, both you and I would have been spared much trouble. In my interview with Gov[.] Gamble and in reference to persons charging him with selfish and ambitious motives and doubts as to his fidelity; the Gov[.] expressed his regrets and evinced generous sentiments of loyalty. He said what is true, there is too much disposition now to impeach everybody. I think with you that Gov[.] Gamble is loyal and I do not see any occasion for us to differ, except it may be as to some measures. But even upon these I do not think difficulty will arise between us. He goes for you and our country and some of your measures. I go for all. In regard to country assessments, he withdrew his Enrolled Militia publicly, I am checking them quietly. Our [U]nion men are much opposed to restraint in their pursuit of rebels, especially in the country where our friends have been persecuted and where the assessments inure to the benefit of the widows and orphans of men killed by the rebels. There may be frauds such as you name but I doubt it. I should have had news of it. No assessment committee could commit such a fraud as you name with impunity. The calculation, I presume[, ] is based on the supposition that men are assessed on the value of their property, whereas the assessments are made on a compound ratio of property and disloyalty. These assessments on persons for crimes committed in a neighborhood, are considered a great restraint on rebels who have encouraged bands of rebels, and our friends fear that they will suffer if such restraints are taken off. I am implored not to remove them. I have earnest petitions and letters innumerable coming in urging me to allow assessments to proceed. The country assessments are all made by local commanders who claim that they understand their local difficulties better than I can. I therefore move cautiously and quietly so as to avoid any new inspiration of rebel courage. On matters concerning the degree and direction of force against rebels, I am appealed to as the supposed head of military power in this vicinity. On complaints of too much severity, the Gov[.] and your Exc[ellen]cy are appealed to: and we do not, therefore, either of us, always see both sides. As to banishments, the Gov[.] goes farther than I do on that subject, although we might differ as to particular cases, most of the banishments have been made as a commutation for imprisonments determined by mil coms [military commanders? militia commanders?] or local commanders; and in all instances where the community seem to think it safe I try to procure a release. As to the cases named by Mr[.] [Congressman James A.] Rollins, I will examine and write to him. They must stand on their own merits not on his; but I shall have due deference to his opinion as to the safety of the release. As intimated in a former letter, I only fear some conflict with the Gov[.] in regard to Enrolled militia and regular volunteers, but the Enrolled Militia it is claimed can only be commanded by the Gov. As the theory is, we feed and forage while he commands this force, and the Gov[.] seem anxious to preserve all his rights in this behalf. I hope however no difficulty will grow out of this. So far I have got along well with the Enrolled Militia. As things improve rebels become more active and officious in their demands for release and relinquishment from restraints which are the only cause of our success. We must not be over hasty in withdrawing these restraints, but gradually I hope peace will be restored and military power relinquished. I have now commanded this Dept[.] over a quarter of a year. I have so far great reason to rejoice in the success of our arms and the progress of our principles. The recent raid to Springfield has been repulsed without the loss of a single wagon or a pound of stores, and my forces are in rapid pursuit of [Confederate General John S.] Marmaduke and his 5000 men. They got nothing but one gun without wheels and a good thrashing at Springfield [Missouri] and Hartsville [Missouri]. While Gen'l Grant is preparing to collect his reinforcements, Gen'l [John A.] McClernand as an episode [?] is assisting me in pressing the rebels up the Arks. [Arkansas River] [.] Meantime other forces in pursuit of Marmaduke must capture him below that river. All this I have made secondary to the move on Vicksburg where I have tendered nearly all my force and which I hope will in due time be made with more unity of action and ultimate success. I have the honor to remain Mr[.] Pres[iden]t, Your Exc[ellen]cy[']s ob[edien]t serv[an]t[, ] S[.] R[.] Curtis Maj[.] Gen'l