A Military Officer's Order Summarily Disposed Of--Gen. Swayne's Opinions of Rebel Regulations.
One Capt. Lewis, commanding the State Militia in Beat No. 2" Russell County, Ala., recently issued the following
Hdqrs. Vol. Militia Company.
No. 2, Jan. 14, 1866.
Lieut. H.M. Hawes, Commanding Militia of Girard,
You are hereby commanded to call together the men assigned to your command on next Saturday, or the earliest day that you can give them sufficient notice, and read to them the following orders, viz:
You will not make any arrests except in aid of the civil authority, and in all cases of arrest the party arrested shall be protected from violence and abuse, and surrended at once to the civil authorities, as required by law, the place and civil officer before whom the writ is returnable, or to the nearest magistrate of the county where the offense is alleged to have been committed, when no particular place is expressed, or when the accused is there entitled to trial by law.
You will avoid any conflict of authority on your part with the United States officers and soldiers, and treat them with courtesy.
The men of your command are desired to proceed forthwith with the collection of arms and ammunition found in the hands of freedmen; and whenever you are informed of freedmen or any place having them, you will immediately send a guard out to search, first obtaining the consent of the proprietor, or his agent, to make such search. All arms and ammunition so found must be reported and turned over to these headquarters.
In case of freedmen using seditious or insurrectionary language, they will be arrested and turned over to the Hon. James F. Waddell, Agent of the Freedmen's Bureau for Russell County.
In these cases, as in all others, you will first obtain a warrant from the civil magistrate, setting forth the facts as near as possible. Your men will refrain as far possible, and will not make arrests upon their own authority, except in cases od public necessity. Such necessity will be the great danger of the escape of the criminal. In all such he will be arrested at once and turned over immediately to the nearest civil magistrate for investigation of charges.
Your men are reminded that by instructions from Gov. Parsons they are prohibited from improper or harsh treatment of prisoners in their charge.
The above orders will be strictly enforced, and your men are reminded that they will be dealt with to the extent of the law if they commit any violent act or disobedience of orders while on duty. C.J. Lewis Captain Com. Vol. Mil. Co. Beat. No. 2, Russell Co., Ala.
To Lieut. H.M. Hawes, Girard, Ala.
Gen. Swayne's attention having been called to this order, he wrote the following letter:
Office Asst. Com. State Of Alabama.}
Bureau Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned }
Lands, Montgomery, Ala., Jan. 23, 1866.}
Capt. C.J. Lewis, Com'd. Vol. Militia Co., Beat No. 2, Russell Co., Ala.
Sir: The attention of the Assistant Commissioner of this State has been called to so much of the inclosed order from you to your subordinates as directs the search for and seizure of arms and ammunition reported in the hands of freedmen, and their arrest for "seditions and insurrectionary language."
The Constitution of the United States commands that the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, and that the right of a people to be protected in their persons, houses, papers and efforts against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.
The talk of insurrectionary violence is nonsense. The solemn pledge of the United States to the freed people of color that THAT SHALL BE AND REMAIN FREE, requires that the law, by whomsoever made and administered, and including their provisions, shall be faithfully and equally applied to all men, without distinction on account of color.
Forces of the United States were placed within this State to see that the provisions and pledge above cited were not treated as null. It was hoped that the good sense of the people of Alabama would soon relieve them from the necessary results of military occupation--and very much has been done in this direction.
Precisely such orders as your own, and every species of outrage committed under them in some counties in this State, require that these troops be still here, and employed.
Application has been made to the Department Commander for a garrison for your county, and for unlawful acts of yourself and your subordinates you will be held to a stern accountability. I am sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant.
Wager Swayne, Brevet-Major-Gen.
- New-York Daily Tribune, New-York, Tuesday, February 06, 1866. Vol. XXV....No. 7,748. Pg. 8.