Okolona Miss Jany 8th 1863
You will oblige me by sending instructions in reference to the manner of disposing of negroes–runaways–caught by my scouts and not giving correct statement of the names of their owners and residence. It is difficult by any manner to ascertain where they belong, and the number is increasing beyond convenience.
On yesterday a negro was caught armed and killed two dogs in the attempt to catch him and finally shot himself inflicting a severe wound, after which he stated that he was from Corinth; and that on the night of the 1st inst the negroes (or most of them) were assembled at that place and officers attended making lectures and stating they were free. The negroes after receiving each a pistol (six shooter) were instructed to go to the vicinity of their respective homes and act as missionaries (or “in the recruiting service.”) I wish to know how to deal with them when caught. Very Respectfully By order of C R Barteau Lt Col Comdg
Adj't. Pleas. Smith to A.A.G. J. Thompson, 8 Jan. 1863, Gen. J. C. Pemberton Papers, series 131, Collections of Officers' Papers, Records of Military Commands, War Department Collection of Confederate Records, Record Group 109, National Archives. In reply, an adjutant at the headquarters of the Confederate Department of Mississippi and East Louisiana instructed Colonel Barteau to remand to the civil authorities all recaptured slaves who withheld the names of their owners or furnished incorrect information. “When you take Negroes with arms evidently coming out from the enemie's camp,” the adjutant ordered, “proceed at once to hold a drum head court martial and if found guilty hang them upon the spot.” (A.&.I.G. J. Thompson to Lt. Col. Barteau, 14 Jan. 1863, ch. II, vol. 57, p. 307, Letters & Telegrams Sent, Department of MS & East LA, War Department Collection of Confederate Records, Record Group 109, National Archives.)
Published in The Destruction of Slavery, p. 300, and in Free at Last, pp. 96–97.