Major General Burbridge Washington, Oct. 27, 1864
It is represented to me that an officer has, by your authority, assessed and collected considerable sums of money from citizens of Allen and Barren counties, Kentucky, to compensate Union men for depredations committed upon them in the vicinity by rebels; and I am petitioned to order the money to be refunded. At most I could not do this without hearing both sides, which, as yet, I have not. I write now to say, that, in my opinion, in some extreme cases, this class of proceedings becomes a necessity; but that it is liable to---almost inseparable from---great abuses, and therefore should only be sparingly resorted to, and be conducted with great caution; that you, in your department, must be the judge of the proper localities and occasions for applying it; and that it will be well for you to see that your subordinates be at all times ready to account for every dollar, as to why collected, of whom, and how applied. Without this, you will soon find some of them making assessments and collections merely to put money in their own pockets, and it will also be impossible to correct errors in future and better times.
In the case I have mentioned, such good men as Hon. J. R. Underwood & Hon. Henry Grider though not personally interested, have appealed to me in behalf of others. So soon as you can, consistently with your other duties, I will thank you to acquaint yourself with the particulars of this case, and make any correction which may seem to be proper. Yours truly A LINCOLN