Correspondence detailing abuses upon citizens by Prentice's Command upon citizens of Russell County, VA.
HEADQUARTERS GILTNERS BRIGADE,
Rye Cove, Scott County, Va., January 19, 1865.
Maj. J. STODDARD JOHNSTON,
Assistant Adjutant. General:
MAJOR: Inclosed I send a petition of a number of citizens of Russell County representing the disorderly character of Colonel Prentice's command, and asking for protection from it; also, a letter from a Mr. John Burton upon the same subject. The whole country is filled with complaints of this command, and I have many applications from the citizens to inform how to proceed to rid themselves of the presence of these marauders, for they have degenerated into a band of thieves and plunderers and are a plague to the country they pretend to be defending. It is but just, though, to say that I hear of no complaints from the company commanded by Captain Carter. He, I believe, is a good officer, and controls his men; he is camped separate from his battalion and keeps his men in camp, and is generally in good repute through this county in which he is now located. Upon the application of the citizens of Russell I sent Captain Barrett with fifty men to Castlewoods,with instructions to arrest all soldiers improperly absent from our arny that be found in that county; to treat the marauders of Prentice's command with the utmost severity, and to burn all the houses occupied by public women. Captain Barrett will remain there as long as his detachment cau be foraged and subsisted.
I am, major, most respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. L. GILTNER,
Colonel, Commanding Brigade.
Referred to General Echols for attention. If necessary, this command will have to be broken up.
J. C. B[RECKINRIDGE].
[Inclosure No. 1.]
DEAR SIR: You will see from the statements of the within petition that a bad state of things is getting up up in our county, and unless some steps are taken to put a stop to it I fear something severe will grow out of it. What is done should be done quickly to be in time. I have had nothing to do with the matter, but it is among my neighbors, and at their request I came as far as Mr. Shoemakers to see you, and would have come on only that my family are unwell. The petition, from the best information I have, states the truth, and you may rely upon the statements of Mr. Vaughan and Mr. Monk, who will hand you this paper. I trust you will adopt some means to have those men removed from the neighborhood.
W. B. ASTON.
Col. H. GILTNER,
Commanding, & c.:
The undersigned citizens of Russell County, protesting that they are good, loyal, and peaceable citizens of the Confederacy, would most respectfully represent that a few men professing to belong to the command of Col. C. J. Prentice have congregated together in the lower end of Castlewoods, in Russell County, a number of bad women, where they stay together for unlawful purposes and keep a most disorderly house or houses; that they have gone through the neighborhood of Copper Ridge and other places and wantonly robbed various good and lawful citizens of their provisions, clothing, bed-clothing, stock, & c., and carried them to those women for their support. To such an extent has this thing been carried on that the whole neighborhood was in continual dread and alarm for their lives and property, as some of the same company have, or are believed to have, committed sundry murders in the country. In view of this state of things, and to try to put a stop to its continuance, a few of the citizens a few nights ago assembled together and went for the purpose of trying to break up the bad houses above named and to secure back some of the stolen property in their possession, and they burned up one of the houses in which they were congregated and recovered back some of the stolen property, and in the encounter a man by the name of Fletcher, a ringleader of the band, was killed by a soldier that had gone along with the citizens. Your petitioners now understand that, instead of desisting from their unlawful practices, the said party are now making arrangements to take revenge upon the citizens by killing, and burning their houses--ten for one, as they allege. Your petitioners do not wish to engage in anything unlawful or without proper authority, or having the semblance of disloyalty. They therefore pray that such steps maybe taken by the military authorities as will effectually put a stop to such unlawful proceedings or to further bloodshed; and, as in duty bound, they will ever pray, & c.
JOHN P. CARTY.
H. P. VICARY.
L. D. VAUGHAN.
JAMES B. MONK.
[And 67 others.]
[Inclosure No. 2.]
WISE COUNTY, VA., January, 1865.
Col. B. E. CAUDILL:
DEAR SIR: I drop you a line, informing you that my house has been pillaged and my family abused by Lieut. A. J. Ciphers, James C. Talbert, William D. Horn, and S. P. Porter, of Prentice's command. They, in open daylight, came to my house, there being no person but my wife at the house; endeavored to take some of my bedclothes; my wife caught hold of them; they jerked her down and around, abusing her person, and in spite of her succeeded in taking off some few articles of my own manufacture. I therefore pray you that such men may be apprehended and held accountable for their conduct. This is the second time some of the same party have pillaged my house. You will please, if in your power, have something done with the party, or forward for me to the proper authorities. If we can get no protection from some source, we will be ruined by those thieves of Prentice's.
Source: Official Records, Series 1, Volume 45, Part 2.
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