War of the Rebellion: Serial 049 Page 0056 OPERATIONS IN N. C., VA.,W. VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter XLI.

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exchange of opinion, intending thus to prevent any conflict with the authorities of Portsmouth. He admitted there was no authority of law for the ordinance, and that they could not legally enforce it and confiscate property and collect rents under it, but indicated that the military authorities were expected to enforce it. I replied that could not be; that there was no necessity of any violation of law; and that the property left vacant by the absence of owners in the rebel service should go into the charge of the provost-marshal, who could collect rents, intending, as you will understand, that the Government should be thus in part reimbursed for the expenditures made for the destitute. This appeared to be entirely satisfactory to Mr. Collins, and he left me in a manner that led me to believe this subject was satisfactorily adjusted.

This comprises my whole and entire communication with the mayor and common council of the city of Portsmouth,and you may imagine my surprise, on the 1st of August, upon the perusal of the following resolutions:

Whereas by authority of writs of election issued by His Excellency Francis H. Peirpoint, Governor of Virginia, the citizens of Portsmouth did, on the 28th of May, 1863, elect civil officers, with a view to re-establish civil law; and whereas the said officers have been installed in office and recognized by the former military commander of this department, and in view of the fact, which we learn with regret, that the present commander of the Seventh Army Corps has seen proper to interfere, with a view to put aside certain acts of the city council and believing that no commanding general, especially a non-resident, has a right to decide upon the constitutionality of any acts of this board when the courts of the Commonwealth are open to settle any grievances between the citizens and the civil authorities: Be it therefore.

Resolved, First, that we refuse to recognize the authority of Brigadier General H. M. Naglee to decide any case of appeal from the action of this board.

Resolved, Second, that the mayor and other officers of the city government be required to enforce every act of this council, regardless of any orders emanating from the military authorities, and that it event of conflict of authority, an appeal shall be taken to His Excellency the Governor, to sustain and uphold the authority of the State and the city.

Adopted July 29, 1863.


Clerk to Council.

Whereas the common council of this city did, on the 13th day of July, pass a resolution authorizing the collection of rents of all property owned by persons in rebellion against the United States Government, and persons who have failed to take the oath of allegiance to the United States Government and the restored Government of Virginia; and whereas the military authorities have usurped the powers vested in the courts of the Commonwealth and declared the action of the city council illegal, thus assuming the right to interfere in the execution of civil law; and whereas the right of military officers to interfere in civil matters cannot be tolerated, inasmuch as civil law existing only by and subject to the will of military officers does not exist at all:

Now, therefore, I, Daniel Collins, by virtue of authority vested in me by the common council of the city of Portsmouth, do hereby notify all persons occupying stores, halls, dwelling-houses, and other property owned by persons who have failed to take the oath of allegiance to the United States Government,to pay their rents to James Fleming, city collector. All persons who may be induced to pay their rents to the former owners or agents of said property are hereby notified that they will have to pay their rents over again, military orders to the contrary notwithstanding, and any person feeling aggrieved shall appeal to the civil courts of this Commonwealth for redress.

Given under my hand this 1st day of August, 1863.



Resolved, First, that a committee of three be appointed to wait on His Excellency Governor F. H. Peirpoint, and represent to him that the military commander of