list Numbers 1, you claim as having been elisted within the enemy's lines, upon the authority considered by you as having been granted in letters, oneof May 7, from Honorable George W. Randolph, then Secretary of War, another of December 23, 1862, from General S. Cooper, Adjutant and Inspector General, and Special Orders, Numbers 251, of October 27, 1862.
The War Department, in extending amnesty to deserters received into other commands, would do so in the shape of an order, both to inform their proper officers of their pardon and its conditions, and to relieve the deserters and officers receiving them from the penalties ordered under the twenty-second Article of War. No such order is on record among files from the Adjutant and Inspector General's Office, nor can it be discovered upon perusal that the letters give authority to enlist deserters. They do authorize you to "recruit all the men you can from counties within the enemy's lines, and also from non-conscripts;" the latter privilege extending tothose within and out of our lines; the former to those of conscript age outside of our lines, thus removing the prohibition against such enlistments contained in General Orders, Numbers 53, Adjutant and Inspector General's Office, of July 31, 1862. As General Orders, Numbers 43, Adjutant and Inspector General's office, of June 13, 1862, prohibits the transfer of men from the line to partisan corps, partisan officers knowingly violating the order forfeit authority to raise troops, and deserters belonging to the line come us fully under this prohibition as others, as their connection cannot be servered from original commands excepting by transfer or discharge by proper authority.
In addition to these considerations, policy requires the return of these men. If discovered that desertion into the enemy's lines instead of punishment secures the reception of the offenders into commands serving near their homes, all anxious to serve in such vicinities have but to desert, thus destroying all military organization and discipline.
In view of these facts, the commanding general directst that you cause these men to be turned over, with their descriptive and clothing lists, to the nearest provost-marshal, to be forwarded to their proper companies.
List. Numbers 3 contains names of those claimed by you as having been illegally transferred by General Jackson from the militia. It is presumed these transfers were made under consultation wit the Governor and the laws of the State. They were aquiesced in by all but the small number who deserter as eigher legal or necessary under pressure of the occasion, and were recognized by the Confederate authorities as legal, as General Orders, Numbers 36, Adjutant and Inspector General's Office, last series, provides for the discharge of all so drafted who were over thirty-five years of age, without embracng those of conscript age. Waiving the question of law, the transfer having been made by an officer high in rank and in the confidence of the State and Confederate Governments, it is not for individual opinion to determine it; but in order that the question may be definitely settled by a proper tribunal, and to prevent the withdrawal from this army of the large number of drafted men who under your claim, if admitted in behalf of these men, would be justified in leaving to join other commands, the commanding general directs that they also be forwarded, in the same manner as those of list Numbers 1, for trial.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. H. CHILTON.