We are desirous of coming to reasonable understanding with the authorities of Norfolk City, and Willing to co-operate with them, to the extent of our ability, in the effort to suppress the irregularities alluded to in your communication. We are aware that no good results have accrued to this country, or to any citizen thereof, from the practices of ceratin parties known as "blockaders" and "smugglers. " That we have been greatly embarrassed and harassed on their account we have every reason to believe. We have not been engaged in such practices, and are opposed to them. But, general, we cannot control these irregularities. The authorities in Norfolk City, with a large military force at command, have been laboring to suppress smuggling, blockade-running, &c., for more than a year, and, if rightly advised, without success. How, then, can we control the matter? All we can do is to advise against, and discourage it. This we have done, and will continue to do so, whenever opportunities offer, and to the extent of our influence.
We are opposed to all irregular warfare being carried on in our county, and have uniformly advised against everything tending thereto. There is not a man of any portion or consideration in this county that has given any other advice. And this advice has prevailed. There are no armed men in Princess Anne banded together for the purpose of waging an irregular warfare therein, and we feel assured that there never will be any, unless, indeed, our condition should be rendered hopelessly insecure. But if bands of armed men from other localities should come into our county, or pass through it, for the purpose of waging irregular or desultory warfare here or elsewhere, it would be impossible for us to prevent it. All we could do would be to advise against it, and discountenance any such attempt. This we would do; and, furthermore, we pledge ourselves, that whatever of influence we possess, the same shall be exerted against the formation of companies of armed men in our midst, the object of which would be to wage irregular warfare in this county.
And, further, we are within the Federal military lines, and, while therein, we expect to regulate our deportment according to those rules usually prescribed for the observance of non-combatants. Hence, if allowed to visit Norfolk or Portsmouth, and there permitted to sell our produce and purchase the necessary supplies for our families, we will not commit any hostile act against the Government of the United States, nor make any attempt to carry information or supplies west of the line indicated in the foregoing letter.
On the other hand, we ask that we be protected in our persons, our homes, and property, and not held accountable for the actions of citizens of other localities, or for the irregularities and misconduct of a few restless, reckless, or bad men, wherever found.
Al of which, general is respectfully submitted.
[Signed by] W. M. Bormey, Thomas W. Wilkins, Smith S. Woodhouse, Jona. Hunter, jr. E. D. Fisher, Solomon S. Keeling, A. R. L. Keeling, Samuel James, Edward James, John Gournto, H. I. Chandler, Henry Gournto, Ransom Brock, Thomas Keeling, A. M. Bell, I. S. Woodhouse, Benj. Morris, J. Bonney, Wm. Moses, Horatio Cornick, John P. Keeling, John H. Day, J. J. Burroughs, Jona. Hunter, John Woodhouse, H. B. Styson, Lancaster Fentress, William Nemmo, M. W. Drewry.
54 RR-Vol XXVII, PT III