There is no limit in this obligation to the surplus or to products of any plantation, but seems to refer to the entire property of the kind described that is possessed or may be raised by the party exempted. The clause in reference to exemptions or details that may be made by the Department is more explicit. The exempt or detailed is required to employ in good faith his own skill, capital, and labor exclusively in the production of grain and provisions to be sold at the ascertained prices. No reason occurs to the Department for making any distinction in the obligations of the two classes in this particular, and it is probable that Congress designed that they should be the same.
The language of the article above quoted as to the owners of plantations of a specific description bears this interpretation, and the Department incline to the opinion that this is the proper construction of the act of Congress.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JAMES A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War.
GRIFFIN, GA., December 27, 1864.
Hon. JEFFERSON DAVIS,
President Confederate States of America, Richmond, Va.:
DEAR SIR: From a sentiment contained in your speech at Macon, in this State, viz, that you read all letters written to you, I am emboldened to address this note to you. Unless something is done, and that speedily, too, there will be thousands of the best citizens of this State, and heretofore as loyal as any men in the Confederacy, that will not care one cent which army is victorious in Georgia. I say this with heartfelt sorrow and deep regret. I cannot believe that you are fully aware of the true state of things in Middle Georgia. Let me enumerate some facts which have been and are yet being enacted in the section where I live.
Since August last there have been thousands of cavalry and wagon trains feeding upon our corn-fields, and for which quartermasters and officers in command of trains, regiments, battalions, companies, and squads have been giving the farmers their receipts, and we were all told that those receipts would pay our Government taxes and tithing; and though many of those receipts were signed by bonded quartermasters, yet not one of them will be taken by our collector. But again: When General Sherman left Atlanta Wheeler's cavalry commenced their retreat before him, and but a handful of Shermans' men ran W[heeler's] whole command down to Griffin, and while S[herman's] army was marching through Fayette, Clayton, Henry and Butts, Wheeler's cavalry was burning up all the corn and fodder, driving off all the stock of the farmers for ten miles on each side of the railroad, all of from ten to twenty-five miles to the right and rear of Sherman's forces. Worse than all, the stock of mules and horses which General Wheeler's forces carried off, nine out of ten they have appropriated to their own use. In consequence of which there will be thousands upon thousands of acres of lands uncultivated the next year for the want of plow stock, which has been stolen from them by men claiming to act under orders from those high in authority. There are hundreds of families that have not one ear of corn left, whose husbands are now in the Army, and have been for the last three years, and now we are notified that our tithing must be paid.