RICHMOND, VA., February 7, 1864.
General R. E. LEE,
Orange Court-House, Va.:
Your dispatches of the 6th and 7th received.* Enemy is reported to be in force at Bottom's Bridge. General Pickett has returned from his expedition, unsuccessful in the main object. Two brigades from that command will be ordered here. Your last dispatch induces me to delay action on your request as to Rodes. Should immediate action be required, notify me further.
STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA, EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT,
Raleigh, February 9, 1864.
His Excellency JEFFERSON DAVIS:
MY DEAR SIR: Since receiving your letter of the th ultimo, to which it was my intention to have replied before this, reports have reached me from Richmond which, if true, would render any reply unnecessary. I hear with deep regret that a bill is certainly expected to pass the Congress suspending the writ of habeas corpus throughout the Confederacy, and that certain arrests will immediately be made in North Carolina. Of course, if Congress ad Your Excellency be resolved upon this as the only means of repressing disaffection in this State, it would be a mere waste of time fr me to argue the matter. And yet I should not hold myself guiltless of the consequences which I fear will follow dd I not add yet another word of expostulation to the many which I have already spoken. If the bill referred to, about which I can form no opinion until I see it, be strictly within the limits of the Constitution, I imagine the people of this State will submit to it, so great is their regard for law. If it be adjudged, on the contrary, to be in violation of that instrument and revolutionary in itself it will be resisted. Should it become a law soon I earnestly advise you to be chary of exercising the powers with which it will invest you. Be content try, at least for a while, the moral effect of holdging this power over the heads of discontented men before shocking all worshipers of the common law throuhout the world by hurling freemen into sheriffless dungeons for opinion's sake. I do not speak this facay of a flourish, nor do I believe that as an englightened lawyer and a Christian statesman you could feel any pleasure in the performance of such an ungracious task. I am, on the contrary, convinced that you believe it to be the only way to secure North Carolina in the performance of her obligations to her confederates. The misfortune of this belief is yours; the shame will light upon those unworthy sons who have thus sought to stab their mother because she cast them off. If our citizens are left untouched by the arm of military violence I do not despari of an appeal to the readon and patriotism of the people at the ballot box. Hundreds of good and true men, now acting with and possessing the confidence of the party called Conservatives, are at work against the dangerous movement for a convention, and dwihilst civil law remains intact will work zealously and with heart. I expect myself to take the field as soon as the proprieties of my position will allow me, and shall exert every effort to restrain the revolutionary tendency of public opinion. Never yet, sir, have the people of North Carolina refused to listen to their public men if they
* Not found.