NA, M&O 4/19/1862

Memphis Tennessee
April 19/62
Col. Thos. Jordan
A A General CSA
Corinth Miss
Dear Sir,
   While I fully appreciate the vigilance and promptness of the sentence against Messr. Phelps and Hedges for their conduct in passing our lines, subjecting themselves to arrest by the Enemy, and themselves to the suspicion of having placed themselves there of their own will.
   Still from what I have seen and heard Mr. Hedges since we commenced, the transportation of Troops and meeting him almost every week or ten days, I cannot believe he went there from any motivation than that curiosity that prompts thousands to desire to visit a Battle field and securing some trophy, and without any intention of imparting any information to the enemy prejudicial to our cause. I have spent at various times three and four days in the same Hotel with him and have had repeated conversations with him about the Invasion of the south by the North, in all of which he has expressed strong sympathy for the southern cause and for the success of our arms. I have repeatedly heard him say If his sympathies had not been with the south he would not have remained, as he could as well have gone North. Having resided several years in St Louis and then coming farther south he had against the wiles of his friends North & South made up his mind to remain and share her destiny. I have carefully noticed the conditions of the various trains on which I have traveled; and I found no one more ready & willing at all times to dutifully perform his duties to his company and with promptness to our forces, always mindful of the safety of his trains as Judge Brown the Prest. of the Company, and Mr. Williams its superintendent, and all the commanding officers will fully attest.
   I have known him to administer to the sick soldier in the Hotel, and to furnish refreshments and food for the wounded on the cars out of his private stores showing fully that though Born North, he had a heart to feel and a hand to administer to the comfort of the sick and wounded southern soldier, while I have seen our own citizens pass around apparently unmindful of the suffering around them. Such were my impressions of his soundness in our cause and co??, and industry as a Rail Road Man, that I suggested him to the President of our Road as a suitable person to take charge of the third division of our Road from Dunally Bluff on White River to Little Rock Arkansas and named it to Judge Brown, who desired me not to do so as he was their main man just now in the transportation of troops and his road could not well spare him. I mentioned the same to Hedges, that is told him that i was desirous of getting him on our Road, he said he was willing to go but would not leave Judge Browns Road while they had any use for his services. If I had any doubt of his not being sound as any Northern man could be on the southern side I would never have thought of him for that position and locality in Arkansas. I do not and in the absence of proof will never believe Hedges went on that mission from any motive save the prompting of curiosity, unthoughtful of its impropriety and the consequences to which it might subject him. Could I believe other wise I would be the last man to vindicate him. He has a refined and cultivated wife, whose distress is apparent from her letter written me which I found at home on my return from Corinth Saturday morning, written one week ago this morning.
   "It is with a heart full of sadness that I set down to communicate to you this morning. Last thursday morning my Husband left for Corinth -- as I supposed, but have since learned, that he is company with two gentlemen, stopped at Bethel and got horses and started for Battle Ground and they have not returned and it is supposed that they have been taken prisoners. I have cryed all night and feel so unhappy, and no friend to consult with. Can you tell me what I shall do under the circumstances. Write immediately." "Sunday morning." On the Tuesday following business called me to Jackson the day her Husband returned. I had known nothing of the affair until I reached Jackson and was told by Mr. A. G. Marshall I only know Mr Phelps by sight. I have said this much, cannot see hard. I could say less, entertaining as I do the beliefs as expressed, his conduct was wrong; and I trust will teach him a lesson in the future and prove a warning to others who may be alike thoughtless. Asking your pardon for saying so much, and knowing Justice will be administered. I remain yours very truly & Respectfully
Michael Owen
I am glad to know that many of the best citizens of Jackson entertain the belief I do of Hedges