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The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

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OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 4, vol 1, Part 1 (Blockade Runners)
Page 1085 CONFEDERATE AUTHORITIES.

to provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the Confederate States, reserving to the States, respectively, the appointment of the officers and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress. The conscription act gives the President the power to enroll the entire milit between eighteen and thirty-five, and takes from States their constitutional right to appoint the offices and to train the militia. While the act not leave to the States the appointment of a single officer to command the militia employed in the service of the Confederate States under its provisions, it places it in the power of the President to take a major-general of the militia of a State, if he is not thirty-five years of age, and place him in the ranks of the C. S. Army under the command of a third lieutenant appointed by the President, and to treat him as a deserter if he refuses to obey the call and submit to the command of the subaltern placed over him. I do not wish to be understood in any portion of this to refer to the intentions of the President, but only to the extraordinary powers given him by the act. This act not only disorganizes the military systems of all the States, but consolidates almost the entire military power of the States in the Confederate Executive with the appointment of the officers of the militia, and enables him at his pleasure to cripple or destroy the civil government of each State by arresting and carrying into the Confederate service the officers charged by the State constitution with the administration of the State government. I notice, by a perusal of the conscription act, that the President may, with the consent of the Governors of the respective States, employ State officers in the enrollment of the conscripts. While I shall throw no obstructions in the way of the general enrollment of persons embraced within the act, except as above stated, I do not feel that it is the duty of the Executive of a State to employ actually the officers of the State in the execution of a law which virtually strips the State of her constitutional military powers, and, if fully executed, destroys the legislative department of her government, making even the sessions of her General Assembly dependent upon the will of the Confederate Executive. I therefore respectfully decline all connection with the proposed enrollment and propose to reserve the question of the constitutionality of the act and its binding force upon the people of this State for their consideration at a time when it may less seriously embarrass the Confederacy in the prosecution of the war. You will much oblige by informing me of the extent to which you propose making exemptions, if any, in favor of the interests above meh others as you may consider of vital importance. The question is one of the greatest interest to our people, and they are anxious to know your pleasure in the premises.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

JOSEPH E. BROWN.

CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA,

ENGINEER BUREAU, WAR DEPARTMENT,

Richmond, Va., April 22, 1862.

Hon. G. W. RANDOLPH,

Secretary of War:

SIR: The Keysville and Clarksville connection between the Richmond and Danville and the North Carolina railroads having been


Page 1085 CONFEDERATE AUTHORITIES.
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 4, vol 1, Part 1 (Blockade Runners)
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