They are instructed to take no prisoners
Robert E. Lee

March 9, 1865.


GOVERNOR: I received your letter of the 2d inst. and return you my sincere thanks for your zealous efforts in behalf of the army and the cause. I have read with pleasure and attention your proclamation and appeal to the people, as also extracts from your addresses. I trust you will infuse into your fellow-citizens the spirit of resolution and patriotism which inspires your own action. I have now no cavalry to spare for the purpose you mention, and regret that I did not receive the suggestion at an earlier period. I think it a very good one, and would have been glad to adopt it. I have sent a force of infantry under Brigadier-general Johnson [N. D.] to guard the line of the Roanoke and operate as far as practicable in the adjacent counties to arrest deserters. Another detachment of 500 men under Colonel McAllister has been sent to Chatham and Moore counties, in which the bands of deserters were represented to be very numerous. They will, however, operate in other quarters as occasion may require. They are instructed to take no prisoners among those deserters who resist with arms the civil or military authorities. I hope you will raise as large a force of local troops to co-operate with them as you can, and think the sternest course is the best with the class I have referred to. The immunity which these lawless organizations afford is a great cause of desertion, and they cannot be too sternly dealt with. I hope you will be able to aid General Johnson, who needs all the reinforcements you can give him. If he can check the progress of General Sherman, the effect would be of the greatest value. I hope the late success of General Bragg near Kinston will revive the spirits of the people and render your labors less arduous. The conduct of the widow lady whom you mention deserves the highest commendation. If all our people possessed her spirit, our success I should feel to be assured.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R. E. LEE, General.


Memoirs of Robert E. Lee by A. L. Long, pages 687-688
J. M. Stoddart & Company, New York, 1886