War of the Rebellion: Serial 108 Page 0714 Chapter LXIII. MD., E. N. C., PA., VA., EXCEPT S. W., & W. VA.

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WAR DEPARTMENT, C. S. A.

Richmond, Va., May 23, 1863.

His Excellency Z. B. VANCE,

Governor of North Carolina:

SIR: I have herefore had occason to bring to your notice documents showing the prevalence of desertion from our army on the Rappahannock, and I regret now to be obliged again to invoke your earnest attention to the accompanying copy* of a letter from General Lee, with inclosures,# which show a fearful increas of this great evis. General Lee urges upon you, as well as the Department, prompt and efficient measures to remedy the growing mischief. I have directed, from such desoltory cavalry as I can command, guards at the various ferries across the James and Appomattoz Rivers, and hall take all measures in my power to intercept and send back deserters. I feel assured you will on your part not be waiting in due exeritons to arrest the evil. A full remedy can, however, only be found in the removal of the cause, which, you will excuce me for saying, exists with peculiar force among the troops from North Carolina. That cause is, I fear, the impression very generally prevailing, and, perhaps, by designing persons disseminated among the troops from your State, that, by the decision of your highest judicial authorities, the conscript law has been held unconstitutional, and that they cannot justly or legal. Y be detained in service. They think they have only to come within the jurisdiction of your courts to be permanently exonerated from the perils and hardships of military life. In addition, there seems to prevail the opinion that if they can reach certain western counties of the State they will find no reprobation in public sentiment, but be secure of harbor and protection.

This last adds a very dangerous feature, threatening the peace and good order of your State, to the more general mishcief which follows from desertion to the move common cause. These men, going off with their arms and equipments, are but too apt tg bands in remote district, which, in the present condition of our population may place extensive district at their mercy. It is not for me to suggest to your better judgment measures of prevention or remedy; but it might be well, if your full official influence could be exercised, to restain the too ready interposition of the judicial authority in these question of miltary obligation, and that if erroneous impressions exit in regard to the true character of the decision made by the chief justice or other judges of your State, prompt measures should be addopted to publish and disseminte juster views of their opinions. A proclamation, too, from yourself making an appeal to the sober judgment and patriotic feeling, as well the soldiers in the field as of the communicaties at home whom they protect, urging the night obligaions on the former to defent their country in its greatest need, and on the latter to dicontenance and frown upon all influences which spread discouragement and discontent in our army among the conscripts, should be issued. On this latter point, however, doubt may be entertained as to the policy of exposing, by such proclamation, the seriousness of the evil cannot fail to give hope and comfort to the enemy. Your own judgment will best decide about this, and to that judgment the whole matter is referred.

Yours, with esteem,

JAMES A. SEDDON,

Secretary of War.

[18.]

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* Not found as inclosure, but see Lee to Seddon, VOL. XXV. Part II, p. 814.

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# Not found.