Third. That having been informed by Colonel Preston (paper herewith, marked G), on the 9th October, 1862, that more officers having reported than he could usefully employ, he would return the most of them to their regiments, inasmuch "as the results of their efforts will be very meager. The conscripts under the law of April 16 are exhausted in South Carolina."
Fourth. That accordingly on the 9th October (the day following) through my staff officer I issued a circular to district commanders forbidding them from sending out hereafter any more officers to hunt up and procure conscripts. See paper marked H.
Fifth. That on the November, 1862, Colonel Preston returned some 34 of the officers in question tot heir regiments, because, as he alleged, despite their activity and energy, they had "effected but meager results," owing to the fact of there being but "very few men liable to service within the conscript ages, eighteen and thirty-five, left in the State."
Sixth. That on the 28th November, 1862, having informed these headquarters that the Legislature of South Carolina had refused to continue the reserve regiments in service longer than ninety days, Colonel Preston requested that the colonels of those regiments should severally furnish him with lists of all their men who were between the ages of eighteen and forty-five, and that said lists were duly furnished by my direction.
From an attentive examination of the papers of this office, I can find but one instance in which it appears that the views of Colonel Preston were not accepted and orders given to carry them out. On the 5th January, 1863, it appears he proposed that the regiments of reserves should be mustered out of service at his camp of instruction at Columbia, so that the men liable to conscription might be retained in camp and designed. As the same necessity which had brought the regiments into service was quite as strong as at any previous moment, it was preferred to have the conscripts enrolled just before the expiration of their term of service as State reserves, in the districts in which they serving, and thus gain materially in time.
Colonel Preston, it will be observed, regarded the State as drained of all conscripts between the ages of eighteen and thirty-five, and yet it is believed that a number of that class of men are included among those who have joined companies in this department as volunteers;' doubtless in many instances because they feared conscription, but who had previously been able to elude enrollment. The extension of the act and orders regulating conscription, to include all between thirty-five and forty years of age, gave the regiments and companies in this State material accessions of volunteers at once, in January and February, 1863, but ever since that time there has been volunteering to a considerable extent, apparently, of men under circumstances which induced me to believe that the privilege has not been an abuse, but that in that way there have been drawn into the Army men who otherwise would have escaped conscription to an indefinite time. The troops were wanted here, and there have never been more men int eh department than were actually needed.
I have gone at length into these details because, however unintentional, the letters of Colonel Preston make a grave showing against these headquarters.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
G. T. BEAUREGARD.
40 R R-VOL XXXV, PT I