Wednesday, June 15, 2011

June 16, 1861 (Sunday): McDowell Takes the High Road

Colonel James B. Fry

General Orders, No. 5 Hdqrs. Dept. of Northeastern Va.,
Arlington, June 14, 1861.
Unless under the special orders in each case of a commander of brigade or superior authority, it is forbidden to any officer or soldier within this department to arrest or attempt to arrest any citizen or citizens under the plea of their being secessionists, or for any cause whatsoever save that of being at the time in arms against the United States. Nor will any officer or soldier without the like authority forcibly enter, search, or attempt to search any house or the premises of any peaceable resident or other persons not in arms against the United States. The military or police force will arrest any one found trespassing even on the premises of any citizen without the department.
By command of Brigadier-General McDowell:
Assistant Adjutant-General

This memo defines one of the two schools of thought of Union authorities towards civilians in occupied territory. McDowell’s edict was consistent with the Constitution, but not with the views of many in the administration. Lyon in Missouri and Butler in eastern Virginia are more representative of their views. Fry was a career soldier, who had taken part in the expedition to suppress John Brown’s rebellion at Harper’s Ferry.  Fry served through the war and was brevetted for Bull Run, Shiloh, Perryville and war service.  He remained in the Army until 1881.

Series 1, Vol. 51, Part 1 Page 400

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