Daily Archives: 3 November 2012

150 Years Ago: “People not actively engaged in rebellion should not… suffer…”

Issued on this day in 1862 from General U.S. Grant’s headquarters:

GENERAL ORDERS No. 4.
HDQRS. DEPARTMENT OF THE TENNESSEE,
Jackson, Tenn., November 3, 1862.

It has been reported to the general commanding that many families within the limits of the military guards of this department are in a suffering condition–lacking food and clothing–and without any possible means of earning or procuring support. People not actively engaged in rebellion should not be allowed to suffer from hunger in reach of a country abounding with supplies. The Government, never the cause of this state of affairs, should not be subjected to the burden of furnishing the necessary relief, but the weight should fall on those who by act, encouragement, or sympathy have caused the want now experienced. It is therefore ordered:

I. The necessary expenses for the relief needed must be borne by sympathizers with the rebellion.

II. District commanders throughout this department will cause the extent of these wants to be ascertained and the necessary supplies to be procured and distributed.

III. To this end district commanders will cause all persons known to be disloyal within reach of their respective commands to be assessed in proportion to their relative ability to pay, and cause such assessments to be collected and discreetly applied. Assessments may be paid in money or supplies.

IV. A suitable chaplain or other commissioned officer will be appointed at each post where it may be necessary to distribute supplies under this order, who shall have charge of the distribution of supplies and who shall be held responsible for the faithful performance of his duties, and that no supplies are unworthily bestowed.

V. Commissaries of subsistence will be allowed to sell provisions, at the rates charged officers, to such persons as are designated to distribute them, on certificates that they are for such purpose and are necessary to save suffering.

VI. Officers collecting assessments will keep an accurate account of all moneys and provisions so collected, and from whom, and send their accounts through their immediate commanding officers to the chief commissary of the department to be audited.

The chief commissary of the department will designate in a circular how the abstract of such sales is to be kept and returned.

By command of Maj. Gen. U.S. Grant:
JNO. A. RAWLINS,
Assistant Adjutant-General.

This order is somewhat neglected by history, being overshadowed by the more controversial General Order No. 11. Now days, we’d apply some quaint political term to the procurement and distribution of supplies. But wasn’t this just another facet to the “hard war”?