STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA, EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT,
Raleigh, N. C., March 19, 1863.
General R. E. LEE:
His Excellency Governor Vance has received information that certain soldiers belonging to the brigades of Generals Ramseur and Hoke are now under arrest and are being tried for desertion. His Excellency is deeply pained to learn this, and directs me to communicate to you the facts and circumstances connected with the return of these men to the army. While Major General G. W. Smith was in command of this department he caused an order to be issued extending a full pardon (except forfeiture of pay for the period of unauthorized absence) to all enlisted men absent without leave who should voluntarily return to their respective commands on or before February 10. Upon consultation between General Smith and the Governor it was thought that a proclamation by His Excellency, appealing to the patriotism and State pride of absentees, would induce their speedy return to duty. A proclamation was accordingly issued, and the reasonable expectation as to its effect was fully realized and hundreds were induced to return to their colors. The period at first limited was so brief that numbers in remote parts of the State were unable to comply. With a knowledge of this fact, and in conformity with an order of General French, another proclamation was issued extending the time to March 5. It is true that General Smith's order could only extend to his own department, but His Excellency thought it right to extend it to all North Carolina soldiers. Copies of the order of General Smith and the proclamation of the Governor are herewith inclosed.* In the opinion of His Excellency the punishment of these men would be a gross violation of justice and good faith, and he enters his most solemn protest against it. In issuing these proclamations he was actuated by a sincere and earnest desire to promote the interest of the public service and he had reason to believe that his course would meet the approbation of the Confederate authorities, and he trusts and believes that in this reasonable hope he will not be disappointed. He will not allow himself to doubt that your sense of justice and right will induce you to cause all such soldiers to be immediately discharged from arrest.
With sentiments of the highest respect, your obedient servant,
DAVID A. BARNES,
Aide-de-Camp to the Governor.
Richmond, Va., March 19, 1863.
Major W. T. ALEXANDER,
Quartermaster and Inspector of Transportation:
MAJOR: I have the pleasure to inclose a tabular statement of the distances from the Capitol to the batteries around Richmond. The distances both by the road and by air-line are given.
* General Smith's order and the Governor's second proclamation not found.