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This Day in Georgia Civil War History

August 12, 1864

Hood Issued Order on Lawless Stragglers

Confederate General John Bell Hood issued General Field Order No. 14 threatening penalties up to execution for “lawless seizure and destruction of private property by straggling soldiers in the rear and on the flanks of this army.” In particular, Hood’s order noted actions by members of Confederate cavalry in illegally seizing horses from private citizens.

General Field Order No. 14 HDQRS. ARMY OF TENNESSEE, In the Field, August 12, 1864 I. The lawless seizure and destruction of private property by straggling soldiers in the rear and on the flanks of this army has become intolerable. It must come to an end. It is believed to be chargeable to worthless men, especially from mounted commands, who are odious alike to the citizen and the well-disposed soldier. Citizens and soldiers are, therefore, called upon to arrest and forward to the provost-marshal-general all persons guilty of wanton destruction or illegal seizure of property, that examples may be immediately made. The laws of war justify the execution of such offenders, and those laws shall govern. II. Officers are held responsible that their men conduct themselves properly. In any cases where it is shown that an officer, high or low, has permitted or failed to take proper steps to prevent such depredations as those complained of herein, he shall be deprived of his commission. III. Hereafter all cavalry horses must be branded. Division and brigade commanders will determine the manner so as to best designate the commands to which they belong. No purchase or exchange of horses will be permitted except by authority of the company and regimental commanders. In each case of such purchase or exchange the soldier must receive a written statement of the transaction. Any soldier otherwise introducing a horse into any command will be immediately arrested. General, field, and company officers are expected, and, are earnestly requested, to give this matter their attention. Officers failing must be arrested. In procuring forage, the least possible damage must be done the farmer. Too much attention cannot be given this. At best, he is compelled to suffer. IV. Citizens are warned not to purchase from or exchange horses with soldiers, except when the authority for the transaction is previously had from the company and regimental commanders. Otherwise they may lose their property and will fail to receive the support of the military authorities. By command of General Hood: A.P. Mason, Major and Assistant Adjutant-General.