fore they were impressed as it were into the service beyond the period of their original and voluntary enlistment.
He admits that these facts have given them too much seeming cause to believe that the Government has designedly entrapped them into its service: and artful men have, he has been told, used these facts to convince them that they have been wronged and outraged by it, and that they ought to resist its attempts to hold them in its service.
If the major-general commanding believed this, and that the Government had acted thus basely, he would place himself at your head and lead you back to the State of your devotion and his love, and no obstacle should prevent him. But, soldiers, he does not believed it. The Government may have erred; it has not willfully or intentionally wronged you.
The major-general commanding has never ceased to urge your transfer back to the Trans-Mississippi Department. He has never since this war begun lost sight of the smoke of your camps but once, and then he left you reluctantly to go to Richmond in order to entreat the President to send you and him back to Missouri to battle there for the Confederacy. He has recently forwarded other urgent entreaties to the same effect and one of his staff is even now in Richmond awaiting the President's answer to them, and he has been informed that the President says that you shall be sent back to Missouri as soon as you can be spared from this place. Await his answer with that patient forbearance which becomes the good citizen as well as the brave soldier.
The major-general commanding has carefully examined the laws relating to this subject, and he thinks that there can be no doubt that the terms of enlistment of all the Missouri troops in this corps between the ages of eighteen and forty years have been extended by the provisions of those acts to three years from their date of enlistment in the Confederate service, if the war shall last so long.
The law of April 16 says in so many words that "all the persons aforesaid (that is to say, all white men who are residents of the Confederate States between the ages of eighteen and thirty-five years) who are now in the armies of the Confederacy, and whose term of service for three years from the date of their original enlistment, unless the war shall have been sooner ended," and no subsequent act in his opinion changes that provision except to extend the age to forty years.
This may and doubtless does seem hard to you, but it is a hardship which bears upon the citizens of every State alike, and surely you, who have shown yourselves to be so brave and patriotic, will not claim exemption from a law which has been manfully submitted to by the citizens of every State in the Confederacy.
Soldiers of Missouri! be patient; be, as you have heretofore been, long-suffering and obedient. Remember what you owe, not only to yourselves and to your families but to the memory of the brave comrades who have already fallen in this death struggle. Remember that they have died that you may be free.
You have by your exalted patriotism and your glorious services not only won for yourselves the respect of the world and the love of the Southern people, but you have made the name of Missouri honored wherever the history of your deeds has been told. Throw not away by an act of cowardly desertion all that you have so hardly and so gloriously won, and bring not disgrace upon the name which you have made so honored just at the day and perhaps at the hour when you may be reaching the wished-for goal of all your struggles and all your hopes.