my own knowledge several very clever gentlemen, highly patriotic, whose brothers were all in the war and whom it would have injured seriously in their private and business matters to leave home, and whom nothing but the most important considerations could have kept from the service, who procured substitutes in this way promptly and willingly, some of them at very high rates. It would certainly be hard now to require these men to go into service or to procure another substitute when they already have one in their stead. You understand me, I trust. All is very respectfully submitted to your attention and consideration. The extent of my suggestion is that those who now have substitutes in the service not liable to conscription shall be exempt, notwithstanding they may not have pursued strict form in the matter.
ALEXANDER H. STEPHENS.
P. S. -I am here for a few days on a visit and shall be at home in a week.
A. H. S.
CONFIDENTIAL CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA, WAR DEPARTMENT,
Richmond, July 17, 1862.
SIR: Our armies are so much weakened by desertions, and by the absence of officers and men without leave, that we are unable to reap the fruits of our victories and to invade the territory of the enemy. We have resorted to courts-martial and military executions, and we have ordered all officers employed in enrolling conscripts to arrest both deserters and absentees, and offered rewards for the former. In Virginia the sheriffs, constables, and jailers have also been employed by the permission of the Governor, but still the evil continues, and unless public opinion comes to our aid we shall fail to fill our ranks in time to avail ourselves of the weakness and disorganization of the enemy.
Their resources enable them to repair defeat with great rapidity, and they are more numerous now in Virginia than they were before the recent battles near Richmond.
I must therefore beg your Excellency's aid in bringing back to our colors all deserters and absentees. If you will authorize their arrest by State officers, and bring to our assistance the powerful influence of public opinion in your State, we may yet cross the Potomac before a fresh army is raised to oppose us.
It is desirable that this cause of weakness should be concealed as much as possible from the enemy, but we cannot adopt measures to remove in without risking to some extent a disclosure of its existence.
GEO. W. RANDOLPH,
Secretary of War.
(Sent to the Governors of States.)
[JULY 17, 1862. -For Blanchard to Randolph, inclosing Hindman's order for the enrollment of all white men between eighteen and thirty-five in volunteer infantry companies, the State authorities assenting, see Series I, VOL. XV, pp. 779-781.]