War of the Rebellion: Serial 019 Page 0901 Chapter XXV. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.-CONFEDERATE.

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the functions of the courts to the persons styled provost marshals, of who has hung or shot men upon trial by a military commission and not by sentence of a court-martial, has been guilty of that highest degree of treason in all ages-the subverting of the constitution of his country. And every editor-who, standing like a sentinel on the parapets of the Constitution, ought to warn the people of any invasion of their rights, becomes, on the contrary, the defender of, or even an apologist for, what is now called martial law-is what has been known for many ages as a favorer and advocate of high treason, an apologist for usurpation, and the parasite of an odious tyranny.

The Vice-President of the Confederate States has lately pronounced as his opinion that even Congress cannot declare martial law, which is its proper sense is nothing but an abrogation of all laws; that Congress cannot by law impair the constitutional rights of any man, the constitutional guarantees being above and beyond the reach or power of Congress, and much more, if it could be, above and beyond the power of any officer of the Government; that no one has any authority to punish any act as an offense against the military law unless the commission of such act has first been prohibited by an act of Congress providing the punishment for violation of it, with the mode and manner of trying the offense plainly set forth. And in all this I fully agree him, and also in this, that-

Neither generals nor their provost-marshals have any power to make, after, or modify laws, either military or civil; nor can they declare what shall be crimes, either military or civil, or establish any tribunal to punish what they may declare.

And I add that, whatever the motive and however plausible the plea of necessity, all officers of any grade who have been guilty of such usurpation are criminals. In the early days of rome they would have been flung headlong from the Tarpeian Rock as enemies of the republic, if not of the human race. The worst despotism and the bloodiest have in all ages begun under the pretense of necessity and laudable motives. Now, as to provost-marshals, a provost-marshal is an officer of the camp of an army. You will find in a general order published in one of the paper* I send you all of the Articles of War and Regulations that define their powers. Our Regulations and Orders for the Army "of Great Britain, and I suppose we may properly, whenever our own are deficient, refer to and be guided by the English Regulations there are no such officers even in divisions of the army, as chief provost-marshals and provost-marshal-general, but only one provost-marshal, with his assistants, for each brigade or division. He has the rank of captain in the army, and his powers are thus defined:

It is the particular duty of the provost-marshal to take charge of prisoners confined for offenses of a general nature; to preserve good order and discipline, and to use every possible means to prevent the commission of crime by frequently visiting those places at which breaches of order and discipline are likely to be committed. He is to take cognizance of the conduct of all followers and retainers of the camp, as well as of the soldiers of the army.

With this view he is frequently to make the tour of the camp and its environs in order to prevent and detect persons committing acts of disorder or depredations.

The provost-marshal is intrusted with authority to inflict summary punishment on any soldier or individual connected with the army whom he may detect in the actual


*Not found.