Return to St. Augustine and the Civil War
General David Hunter Letters
to Jefferson Davis
General David Hunter and Jefferson Davis were officers of the same pre-civil war US regiment and
friends as was
General Saxton.  The first officer that faced difficulties because of these orders was Lieut
Cate captured outside St. Augustine.    

CSA General Orders No. 60
WAR DEPT., ADJT. AND INSP. GEN.'S OFF.,

Richmond, August 21, 1862
GENERAL ORDERS NO. 60
I. Whereas Major-General Hunter, recently in command of the enemy's forces on the coast of South
Carolina, and Brigadier-General Phelps, a military commander of the enemy in the State of Louisiana,
have organized and armed negro slaves for military service against their masters, citizens of this
Confederacy; and whereas the Government of the United States has refused to answer an inquiry whether
said conduct of its officers meets its sanction, and has thus left to this Government no other means of
repressing said crimes and outrages than the adoption of such measures of retaliation as shall serve to
prevent their repetition:

Ordered, That Major-General Hunter and Brigadier-General Phelps be no longer held and treated as
public enemies of the Confederate States, but as outlaws; and that in the event of the capture of either of
them, or that of any other commissioned officer employed in drilling, organizing, or instructing slaves, with
a view to their armed service in this war, he shall not be regarded as a prisoner of war, but held in close
confinement for execution as a felon at such time and place as the President shall order.

By Order:


S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General.

General Hunter's Letter
To Jefferson Davis titular President of the so-called Confederate States
September 20, 1862

Sir:
While recently in command of the Department of the South, in accordance with the laws of war and the
dictates of common sense, I organized and caused to be drilled, armed and equipped a regiment of
enfranchised bondmen, known as the
First South Carolina Volunteers.

For this action, as I have ascertained, the pretended Government, of which you are chief officer, has
issued against me and all my officers who were engaged in organizing the regiment in question, a General
Order of Outlawry, which announces that, if captured, we shall not even be allowed the usual miserable
treatment extended to such captives as fall into your hands, but that we are to be regarded as felons, and
to receive the death by hanging due to such, irrespective of the laws of war.

Mr. Davis, we have been acquainted intimately in the past. We have campaigned together, and our social
relations have been such as to make each understand the other thoroughly. That you mean, if it ever be in
your power, to execute the full rigor of your threat, I am well assured; and ayou will believe my assertion,
that I thank you for having raised in connection with me and my acts this sharp and decisive issue. I shall
proudly accept, if such be the chance of war, the martyrdom you menace; and herby give you notice that
unless your General Order against me and my officers be formally revoked within thirty days from the
date of the transmission of this letter, sent under a flag of truce, I shall take your action in the matter as
final, and will reciprocate it by the hanging every Rebel officer who now is, or may hereafter be taken
prisoner by the troops of the command to which I am about returning.

Believe me that I rejoice as the aspect now being given to the war by the course you have adopted. In my
judgment, if the undoubted felony of treason had been treated from the outset as it deserves to be, as the
sum of all felonies and crimes, this Rebellion would never have attained its present menacing proportions.
The war you and your fellow-conspirators have been waging against the United States must be regarded
either as a war of justificable defense, carried on for the integrity of the boundaries of a sovereign
Confederation of States against foreign aggression, or as the most wicked, enormous and deliberately
planned conspiracy against human liberty and for the triumph of treason and slavery, of which the records
of the world's history contain any note.

If our Government should adopt the first view of the case, you and your fellow Rebels may justly claim to
be considered a most unjustly treated body of disinterested patriots, although, perhaps, a little mistake in
your connivance with the thefts by which your agent,
John R. Floyd, succeeded in arming the South and
partially disarming, the North, as a preparative to the commencement of the struggle.

But if on the other hand, as is the theory of our government, the war you have levied against the United
States, be a rebellion, the most causeless, crafty, cruel and bloody ever known, a conspiracy, having the
rule-orruin policy for its basis, the plunder of the black race and the reopening of the African slave trade
for its objective, the continued and further degradation of ninety per cent of the white population of the
South in favor of a slave-driving ten per cent, aristocracy, and the exclusion of all foreign-born immigrants
from participation in the generous and equal hospitality foreshadowed to them in the Declaration of
Independence, which three of my direct ancestors signed: if this, as I believe, be a fair statement of the
origin and motives of the Rebellion of which you are titular head, then it would have been better had our
Government adhered to the constitutional view of Treason from the start, and hung every man taken in
arms against the United States, from the first butchery in the streets of Baltimore, down to the last
resultless battle fought in the vicinity of Sharpsburg.

If treason, in other words be any crime, it is the essence of all crimes; a vast machinery of guilt, multiplying
assassinations into wholesale slaughters, and organizing plunder as the basts for supporting a system of
national brigantage. Your action, and that of thsoe with whom you are in league, has its best comment in
the sympathy extended to your cause by the despots and aristocracies of Europe. You have suceeded in
throwing back civilization for many years, and have made of the country that was the freest, happiest,
proudest, richest, and most progressive but two short years ago, a vast temple of mourning, doubt,
anxiety, and privation, our manufacture, of all but war material nearly paralyzed, the inventive spirit which
was forever developing new resources destroyed, and our flag, that carried respect everywhere now
mocked by enemies who think its glory tranished, and that its power is soon to become a mere tradition
of the past.

For all these results, Mr. Davis, and for the three hundred thousand lives already sacrificed on both sides
in the war, some pouring out their blood on the battle-field, and others, fever-stricken, wasting away to
death in over-crowded hospitals, you and the fellow miscreants who have been your associates in this
conspiracy are responsible. Of you and them it may with truth be said, that if all the innocent blood hwich
you have spilled could be collected in one pool, the whole Government of your Confederacy might swim
in it!

I am aware that this in not the language in which the prevailing etiquette of our army is in the habit of
considering your conspiracy. It has come to pass, though what instrumentalities you are best able to
decide, that the greatest and worst crime ever attempted against the human family has been treated in
certain quarters as though it were a mere error of judgment on the part of some gifted friends; a thing to
be regretted, of course, as causing more or less distrubance to the relations of amity and esteem
heretofore existing between those charged with the repression of such eccentricities and the eccentric
actors; in fact, as a slight political miscalculationor pecondillo, rather than as an outrage involving the
desolation of a continent, and demanding the promptest and severest retribution within the power of
human law.

For myself, I have never been able to take this view of the matter. During a time of active service, I have
seen the seeds of this conspiracy planted in the rank soil of slavery, and the  Upas-growth watered by just
such trickings of a courtesy alike false to justice, expediency and our eternal future. Had we at an earlier
day commenced to call things by their right names, and to look at the hideous features of slavery with our
ordinary common eyesight and common sense, instead of through the rose-colored glasses of supposed
political expediency, there would be three hundred thousand more men alive today on American soil, and
our country would never for a moment have forfeited her proud position as the highest exemplar of the
blessings--moral, intellectual and material--to be derived from a free form of Government.

Whether your intention of hanging me and those of my staff, and other officers who were engaged in
organizing the First South Carolina Volunteers, in case we are taken prisoners in battle, will be likely to
benefit your cause or not, is a matter mainly for your own consideration. For us, our profession makes the
sacrifice of life a contingency ever present and always to be accepted; and although such a form of death
as your order proposes, is not that to the comtemplation of which soldiers have trained themselves, I feel
well assured, both for myself and those included in my sentence, that we could die in no manner more
damaging to your abominable Rebellion and the abominable institution which is its origin.

The South has already tried one hanging experiment, but not with a success, one would think, to ? its
repetition, John Brown, who was well known to me in Kansas, and who will be known, in appreciative
history through centuries whih will only recall your name followed by curses, once entered Virginia with
seventeen men and armes. The terror caused by the presence of this idea, and the dauntless courage
which prompted the assertion of his faith against all odds, I need not now recall. The history is too familiar
and too painful. "Old Ossawatomie" was caught and hung; his seventeen men were killed, captured or
dispersed, and several of them shared his fate. Portions of his skin were tanned. I am told, and circulated
as relics dear to the barbarity of the slaveholding heart. But more than a million of armed white man, Mr.
Davis, are to-day marching South, in practical acknowledgment that they regard the hanging of three
years ago as the murder of a martyr; and as they march to a battle which has the emancipation of all
slaves as one of the most glorious results, his name is on their lips; to the music of his memory their
marching feet keep time; and as they sling knapsacks, each one becomes aware that he is an armed
apostle of the faith preached by him.

                                                     "Who has gone to be a soldier
                                                       In the army of the Lord!"

I am content, if such be the will of Providence, to ascend the scaffold made sacred by the blood of this
martyr; and I rejoice at every prospect of making our struggle more earnest and inexorable on boath
sides; for the sharper the conflict the sooner ended; the more vigorous and remorseless the strife, the less
blood must be shed in it eventually.

In conclusion, let me assure you, that I rejoice with my whole heart that your order in my case, and that of
my officers, if unrevoked, will untie our hands for the future; and that if unrevoked, will untie our hands for
the future and that we shall be able to treat rebellion as it deserves, and give to the felony of treason a
felon's death.

Very obediently yours,
David Hunter

Jefferson Davis Proclamation General Orders No. 111
ADJT. AND INSP. GENERAL'S OFFICE, Richmond [Va.], December 24, 1862.

GENERAL ORDERS, No. 111.

I. The following proclamation of the President is published for the information and guidance of all
concerned therein:

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE CONFEDERATE STATES.
A PROCLAMATION.


. . . .1
Now therefore, I Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America, and in their name do
pronounce and declare the said Benjamin F. Butler to be a felon deserving of capital punishment. I do
order that he be no longer considered or treated simply as a public enemy of the Confederate States of
America but as an outlaw and common enemy of mankind, and that in the event of his capture the officer
in command of the capturing force do cause him to be immediately executed by hanging; and I do further
order that no commissioned officer of the United States taken captive shall be released on parole before
exchange until the said Butler shall have met with due punishment for his crimes.

And whereas the hostilities waged against this Confederacy by the forces of the United States under the
command of said Benjamin F. Butler have borne no resemblance to such warfare as is alone permissible
by the rules of international law or the usages of civilization but have been characterized by repeated
atrocities and outrages, among the large number of which the following may be cited as examples:

Peaceful and aged citizens, unresisting captives and non-combatants, have been confined at hard labor
with balls and chains attached to their limbs, and are still so held in dungeons and fortresses. Others have
been subjected to a like degrading punishment for selling medicines to the sick soldiers of the
Confederacy.

The soldiers of the United States have been invited and encouraged by general orders to insult and
outrage the wives, the mothers and the sisters of our citizens.

Helpless women have been torn from their homes and subjected to solitary confinement, some in
fortresses and prisons and one especially on an island of barren sand under a tropical sun; have been fed
with loathsome rations that had been condemned as unfit for soldiers, and have been exposed to the vilest
insults.

Prisoners of war who surrendered to the naval forces of the United States on agreement that they should
be released on parole have been seized and kept in close confinement.

Repeated pretexts have been sought or invented for plundering the inhabitants of the captured city by fines
levied and exacted under threat of imprisoning recusants at hard labor with ball and chain.

The entire population of the city of New Orleans have been forced to elect between starvation, by the
confiscation of all their property, and taking an oath against conscience to bear allegiance to the invaders
of their country.

Egress from the city has been refused to those whose fortitude withstood the test, even to lone and aged
women and to helpless children; and after being ejected from their homes and robbed of their property
they have been left to starve in the streets or subsist on charity.

The slaves have been driven from the plantations in the neighborhood of New Orleans till their owners
would consent to share the crops with the commanding general, his brother Andrew J. Butler, and other
officers; and when such consent had been extorted the slaves have been restored to the plantations and
there compelled to work under the bayonets of guards of U.S. soldiers.

Where this partnership was refused armed expeditions have been sent to the plantations to rob them of
everything that was susceptible of removal, and even slaves too aged or infirm for work have in spite of
their entreaties been forced from the homes provided by the owners and driven to wander helpless on the
highway.

By a recent general order (No. 91) the entire property in that part of Louisiana lying west of the
Mississippi River has been sequestrated for confiscation and officers have been assigned to duty with
orders to “gather up and collect the personal property and turn over to the proper officers upon their
receipts such of said property as may be required for the use of the U.S. Army; to collect together all the
other personal property and bring the same to New Orleans and cause it to be sold at public auction to
the highest bidders�–an order which if executed condemns to punishment by starvation at least a
quarter of a million of human beings of all ages, sexes and conditions; and of which the execution although
forbidden to military officers by the orders of President Lincoln is in accordance with the confiscation law
of our enemies which he has directed to be enforced through the agency of civil officials. And finally the
African slaves have not only been excited to insurrection by every license and encouragement but
numbers of them have actually been armed for a servile war–a war in its nature far exceeding in horrors
the most merciless atrocities of the savages.

And whereas the officers under the command of the said Butler have been in many instances active and
zealous agents in the commission of these crimes, and no instance is known of the refusal of any one of
them to participate in the outrages above narrated;

And whereas the President of the United States has by public and official declaration signified not only his
approval of the effort to excite servile war within the Confederacy but his intention to give aid and
encouragement thereto if these independent States shall continue to refuse submission to a foreign power
after the 1st day of January next, and has thus made known that all appeals to the laws of nations, the
dictates of reason and the instincts of humanity would be addressed in vain to our enemies, and that they
can be deterred from the commission of these crimes only by the terms of just retribution:

Now therefore I, Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America and acting by their
authority, appealing to the Divine Judge in attestation that their conduct is not guided by the passion of
revenge but that they reluctantly yield to the solemn duty of repressing by necessary severity crimes of
which their citizens are the victims, do issue this my proclamation, and by virtue of my authority as
Commander-in-Chief of the Armies of the Confederate States do order–

1. That all commissioned officers in the command of said Benjamin F. Butler be declared not entitled to
be considered as soldiers engaged in honorable warfare but as robbers and criminals deserving death, and
that they and each of them be whenever captured reserved for execution.

2. That the private soldiers and non-commissioned officers in the army of said Butler be considered as
only the instruments used for the commission of the crimes perpetrated by his orders and not as free
agents; that they therefore be treated when capture as prisoners of war with kindness and humanity and
be sent home on the usual parole that they will in no manner aid or serve the United States in any capacity
during the continuance of this war unless duly exchanged.

3. That all negro slaves captured in arms be at once delivered over to the executive authorities of the
respective States to which they belong to be dealt with according to the laws of said States.

4. That the like orders be executed in all cases with respect to all commissioned officers of the United
States when found serving in company with armed slaves in insurrection against the authorities of the
different States of this Confederacy.

In testimony whereof I have signed these presents and caused the seal of the Confederate States of
America to be affixed thereto at the city of Richmond on this 23d day of December, in the year of our
Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two.


JEFF'N DAVIS.

By the President:
  J. P. BENJAMIN, Secretary of State.


II. Officers of the Army are charged with the observance and enforcement of the foregoing orders of the
President. Where the evidence is not full or the case is for any reason of a doubtful character it will be
referred through this office for the decision of the War Department.

By order:

S. COOPER    
Adjutant and Inspector General.

Another version
Richmond, December 24, 1862.
GENERAL ORDERS, No. 111.

I. The following proclamation of the President is published for the information and guidance of all
concerned therein:
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE CONFEDERATE STATES.
A PROCLAMATION.


Now therefore, I Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America, and in their name do
pronounce and declare...

...whereas the President of the United States has by public and official declaration signified not only his
approval of the effort to excite servile war within the Confederacy but his intention to give aid and
encouragement thereto if these independent States shall continue to refuse submission to a foreign power
after the 1st day of January next, and has thus made known that all appeals to the laws of nations, the
dictates of reason and the instincts of humanity would be addressed in vain to our enemies, and that they
can be deterred from the commission of these crimes only by the terms of just retribution:

Now therefore I, Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America and acting by their
authority, appealing to the Divine Judge in attestation that their conduct is not guided by the passion of
revenge but that they reluctantly yield to the solemn duty of repressing by necessary severity crimes of
which their citizens are the victims, do issue this my proclamation, and by virtue of my authority as
Commander-in-Chief of the Armies of the Confederate States do order--

...3. That all negro slaves captured in arms be at once delivered over to the executive authorities of the
respective States to which they belong to be dealt with according to the laws of said States.

4. That the like orders be executed in all cases with respect to all commissioned officers of the United
States when found serving in company with armed slaves in insurrection against the authorities of the
different States of this Confederacy.

In testimony whereof I have signed these presents and caused the seal of the Confederate States of
America to be affixed thereto at the city of Richmond on this 23d day of December, in the year of our
Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two.

JEFF’N DAVIS.
By the President:
  J. P. BENJAMIN, Secretary of State.


II. Officers of the Army are charged with the observance and enforcement of the foregoing orders of the
President. Where the evidence is not full or the case is for any reason of a doubtful character it will be
referred through this office for the decision of the War Department.

By order:

S. COOPER        
Adjutant and Inspector General.

General David Hunter's Second Letter to Jefferson Davis
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE SOUTH
Hilton Head, S.C., April 23, 1863
JEFFERSON DAVIS, Richmond, Va.:
The United States flag must protect all its defenders, white, black, or yellow. several negroes in the
employ of the Government in the Western Department have been cruelly murdered by your authorities
and others sold into slavery. Each outrage of this kind against the laws of war and humanity which may
take place in this department shall be followed by the immediate execution of the rebel of highest rank in
my possession. Man for man, these executions will certainly take place for every one sold into slavery
worse than death. On your authorities will rest the responsibility of having inaugurated this barbarous
policy, and you will be held responsible in this world and in the world to come for all the blood thus shed.

In the month of August last you declared all those engaged in arming the negroes to fight for their country
to be felons, and directed the immediate execution of all such as should be captured. I have given you
long enough to reflect on your folly. I now give you notice that unless this order is immediately revoked I
will at once cause the execution of every rebel officer and every rebel slaveholder in my possession. This
sad state of things may be kindly ordered by an all-wise Providence to induce the good people of the
North to act earnestly and to realize that they are at war. Thousands of lives may thus be saved.

The poor negro in fighting for liberty in its truest sense, and Mr. Jefferson has beautifully said, "In such a
war there is no attribute of the Almighty which will induce him to fight on the side of the oppressor."

You say you are fighting for liberty. Yes, you are fighting for liberty -- liberty to keep 4,000,000 of your
fellow-beings in ignorance and degradation; liberty to separate parents and children, husband and wife,
brother and sister; liberty to steal the products of their labor, exacted with many a cruel lash and bitter
tear; liberty to seduce their wives and daughters, and to sell your own children into bondage; liberty to kill
these children with impunity, when the murder cannot be proven by one of pure white blood. This is the
kind of liberty - the liberty to do wrong - which Satan, chief of the fallen angels, was contending for when
he was cast into hell.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,

D. HUNTER
Major-General, Commanding

Colonel Higginson's Letter and Journal Response to General Hunter's Letter
General Hunter's new letter to Jeff. Davis is a very unfortunate one, like many of his impulses. the threat to
execute his prisoners, unless J. D. revokes, would only make the latter smile, for he must know that it
would never be carried out---because public sentiment would not sustain it. But public sentiment will
sustain retaliatory acts and the threat of those carries a weight which the more extravagant threat only
impairs.

Confederate Congress Resolution
May 1863
1. Resolved by the Congress of the Confederate States of America, in response to the message of the
President transmitted to Congress at the commencement of the present session, That, in the opinion of
Congress, the commissioned officers of the enemy ought not to be delivered to the authorities of the
respective States, as suggested in the said message; but all captives taken by the Confederate forces
ought to be dealt with and disposed of by the Confederate Government.

2. That, in the judgment of Congress, the proclamations of the President of the United States, dated,
respectively, September 22, 1862, and January 1, 1863, and the other measures of the Government of
the United States and of its authorities, commanders, and forces, designed or tending to emancipate
slavers in the Confederate States, or to abduct such slavers, or to incite them to insurrection, or to employ
negroes in war against the Confederate States, or to overthrow the institution of African slavery and bring
on a servile war in these States, would, if successful, produce atrocious consequences, and they are
inconsistent with the spirit of those usages which in modern warfare prevail among civilized nations. They
may, therefore, be properly and lawfully repressed by retaliation.

3. That in every case wherein, during the present war, any violation of the laws or usages of war among
civilized nations shall be or has been done and perpetrated by those acting under the authority of the
Government of the United States, on the persons or property of citizens of the Confederate States, or of
those under the protection or in the land or naval service of the Confederate States, or of any State of the
Confederacy, the President of the Confederate States is hereby authorized to cause full and ample
retaliation to be made for every such violation in such manner and to such extent as he may think proper.

4. That every white person, being a commissioned officer, or acting as such, who during the present war
shall command negroes or mulattoes in arms against the Confederate States, or who shall arm, train,
organize, or prepare negroes or mulattoes for military service against the Confederate states, or who shall
voluntarily aid negroes or mulattoes in any military enterprise, attack, or conflict in such service, shall be
deemed as inciting servile insurrection or who shall incite or cause to be incited a slave to rebel shall, if
captured, be put to death or be otherwise punished, at the discretion of the court.

5. Every person being a commissioned officer or acting as such in the service of the enemy who shall,
during the present war, excite, attempt to excite, or cause to be excited a servile insurrection or who shall
incite or cause to be incited a slave to rebel shall, if captured, be put to death or otherwise punished, at
the discretion of the court.

6. Every person charged with an offense punishable under the preceding resolutions shall, during the
present war, be tried before the military court attached to the army or corps by the troops of which he
shall have been captured or by such other military court as the President may direct and in such manner
and under such regulations as the President shall prescribe; and, after conviction, the President may
commute the punishment in such manner and such terms as he may deem proper.

7. All negroes and mulattoes who shall be engaged in war or be taken in arms against the Confederate
States or shall give aid or comfort to the enemies of the Confederate States shall, when captured in the
Confederate States, be delivered to the authorities of the State or States in which they shall be captured,
to be dealt with according to the present or future laws of such State or States.
General David Hunter
Jefferson Davis
Colonel Thomas Wentworth
Higginson
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