On the theory of military occupation the answer to inquiries from the representatives of foreign governments seems to me very simple and conclusive. The Treasury Department gives no permits to trade; general trade is not restored; the place is governed by martial law, and it rests with the commander of the forces to authorize, by special permits, the introduction of such supplies as are indispensable for the troops and the people they hold in subjection and no more. In the exercise of this authority he may in his discretion grant permits to others than our own citizens; it is a matter over which, as the military commander, he has the entire control, subject to the interposition of the Government for the correction of abuse.
On the other hand, if it is a blockaded instead of being simply a closed port, you can only reach your object by certifying that the supplies necessary to the sustenance of 40,000 people are required for military purposes or something equivalent. If the population were but a tithe of that for which we are to provide, though the principle would not be changed, the amount of necessaries sent to them might not attract attention. But in this case they can hardly fail to be noticed; and I do not see how you are to maintain your ground on the hypothesis of a blockade according to the received principles of international law.
I have made these hasty suggestions under a strong sense of the embarrassment I feel in regard to the certificate I am required to give. If you can resolve my doubts I shall be greatly relieved. But the solution of the whole difficulty in regard to Norfolk seems to be so easy under one view of the question and so beset with complications under the other that I cannot rest satisfied without stating to you the conclusions to which my reflections have brought me.
I do not see that any possible difficulty can arise within the blockaded region under this solution of the question of trade with Norfolk. Whenever you are blockading the enemy's ports or territory the law of blockade controls; whenever you get actual possession and hold by military occupation the commander of the forces governs under the laws of war.
If the question is settled beyond the possibility of reconsideration I beg to be immediately advised, as the people of Norfolk are suffering for want of the necessaries of life. In any case a speedy determination is for the same reason exceedingly desirable.
If the question is not an open one, will it not be sufficient for me to certify that the shipment, & c., is "required for the purposes of my command in this military department?"
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOHN A. DIX,
SUFFOLK, VA., October 30, 1862.
No longer any doubt of Longstreet's arrival at Petersburg with one division last week. It comes from all quarters and from parties who have no knowledge of each other. It has just come from two of the Surry Court-House pickets - deserters. It is only a question as to the numbers and positions of them. Will shell something at 2 this night.
JOHN J. PECK,