emergency, upon the call of Your Excellency, co-operate with them, and thus all classes may be brought together for a grand, and, I trust, a successful effort.
The late act of Congress, placing in service all between the ages of seventeenth and fifty, provides for the defense of the State more fully than the act of the Legislature by requiring the organization of all between the ages of seventeen and eighteen and forty-five and fifty into a reserve corps to operate exclusively within the limits of the State. While this law contains fewer exemptions than that of the State it authorizes such details (under certain restrictions) as may be necessary to sustain the agricultural and industrial interests of the country.
Believing that the new conscript act is fully adequate to the emergency before me, and that the defense of the State will be best secured by its execution, I would respectfully decline receiving into the Confederate service any other troops than those organized or entering service under that act, but will leave the organization of the State troops (should the State see proper to continue such an organization in the field) to the State authorities, with whom I will heartily co-operate for the defense of the State. Now that Congress has so fully provided for the defense of Texas I cannot suppose that Your Excellency will desire to retrain in the State troops those subject to conscription under any of the acts of Congress, including the one recently passed; but should I be mistaken in this respect I trust Your Excellency will inform me what decision you may arrive at concerning the subjects of this communication. My duty is clear. I do not feel authorized, with the rights before me, to waive the rights of the Confederate Government to the conscript element, of which they are to a great extent composed, especially since your communication general that they should be continued in service for six months is in effect abrogated. I shall therefore be compelled to acquit myself of the obligation imposed upon me by the new conscript act by putting it in execution to the best of my ability, in which I trust I shall have Your Excellency's approval and co-operation.
It will be made my duty under the law of Congress to organize a reserve force for the defense of the State. These troops, while in the Confederate service, will yet have a distinct character. I desire to put this force immediately in the field, so as to meet the tide of invasion now threatening the eastern border. As the creation of this force meets the necessity contemplated by the Legislature, I trust that I shall have the co-operation of Your Excellency in my endeavor to make it equal to the emergency. The fall of Alexandria, the concentration of the enemy in Arkansas and at Berwick Bay, his movements on the Washita, together with the evacuation of unimportant points in Western Texas, all indicating that the enemy is about making a grand movement for the occupation of Louisiana and the invasion of Texas, I am satisfied that at such a period the patriotic desires of Your Excellency will prompt an indorsement of that policy which seems best calculated to defeat the enemy. The recognition of the binding force and the utility of the act of Congress not only will promote this end but will relieve any embarrassment which the conflict between the State laws and that of Congress have produced. A conflict of authority now, when harmony and patriotic co-operation alone can save the country, would be most disastrous. Not only would the effect be to destroy the efficiency of both the State