prefer no force to one under an officer of doubtful judgment. With this cavalry to back them the citizens left could preserve order and prevent any great number of slaves from escaping. The very presence of such a force would intimidate the enemy and embolden the loyal citizens to speak and act with freedom and zeal. The loyal citizens of this county ought to have some support. The interest of the Confederacy in this section requires it.
2nd. That the President be requested by Your Excellency to exercise the discretion vested in him by the late act of Congress to exempt this county from further execution of the conscript law. There are not now men enough in the county for efficient police duty, and any further attempt at executing the law instead of getting soldiers for our army would run recruits to the enemy, for the correct minded men subject to the law have already gone to camp. The substantial men of the county dread to see the others made their enemies. If the conscript law is extended to forty-five years its execution would complete the ruin of this county.
3rd. That no military order requiring slaves to work on fortifications or serve in the army be sent to this county. Its effect would be to make the slaves run off and very few could be obtained under the order, for it would be idle to attempt to hunt negroes in this section now.
But another reason why such an order should not be sent here, and why the counties bordering on the enemy's lines should be especially exempted by name, is this: If the Confederate authorities commence taking these exposed slaves, or any part of them, the enemy will then have a military excuse to take those that are left, and they will not be slow to do so. Mr. Thompson will be in Raleigh about October 1 to communicate verbally with Your Excellency upon this subject and to make more full and specific statements than can be well done within the limits of a letter.
I have written under the instructions of the meeting of Bertie gentlemen, as mentioned above, but allow me to add that for the most part I approve their recommendations and think it is the best that could be done under the circumstances. Perhaps so small a force as two companies might be in danger of being cut off by the enemy, but I think in an emergency the citizens would rally with such arms as they could get to repel an attack. If the Confederate authorities are not able to do something it might be well to authorize the raising of a State force to operate in this section. It could be done without difficulty under a proper officer, and would be efficient after awhile; but something ought to be done for this section of the State at once.
Allow me personally to assure you of my esteem and readiness to render you all the service in my power in any measures deemed best for the interests of the State.
Yours, most respectfully,
Richmond, Va., September 18, 1862.
Major General S. G. FRENCH,
GENERAL: If you are not entirely satisfied that your force is ample, and that prompt and complete success can be attained, your movement should be suspended and the troops should promptly return to their