not to my knowledge in the files of the War Department a single case among the thousands there to be found in which the promotion of an officer has ever been recommended on the ground of his party or political opinions or relations; and I am as certain as one can be of the occurrences of three years that no objection has been ever suggested to me by any of my advisers, civil or military, against the appointment or promotion of any officer of the army on the ground of his opposition to secession or other political opinion held prior to the war. I further affirm that the promotions of officers have been guided exclusively by military considerations, and that they have almost invariably been made upon the recommendations received from their fellow-soldiers and commanders, as I have in the large majority of cases no other source of reliable information ceoncerning the relative merits of the officers. Having thus been forced, from considerations of public duty, to abandon that reserve in relation to my official conduct which I had hoped to maintain at least till my retirement to private life, it becomes necessary to mark as unfounded some other disparaging statements of your letter, lest I be supposed to admit their truth.
First. You say, "The truth is, sir, as I have often said before, that the great body of our people have been suspected by their Government, perhaps because of the reluctance with which they gave up the old Union." If by the words "their Government" you refer to the Executive Department of the Confederate States, I deny that there is any ground for the assertion, and invite you to specify the facts to which you refer, and the persons to whom your frequent communications were made.
Second. "That this consciousness of their being suspected has been greatly strengthened by what seemed to be a studied exclusion of the anti-secessionists from all the more important offices of the Government, even from those promotions in the army which many of them had won with their blood." To the second part of this charge I have already adverted. The first part is equally without foundation.
Third. You ask in reference to a suspicion of the people of North Carolina, which you seem to impute to me, "Was this suspicion just? And was there sufficient effort made to disprove that it existed, if it really did not exist at Richmond?" I reply that your knowledge of the injustice of such a suspicion should have prevented your imputing to me the possibility of entertaining it, or at least have prompted, before such imputation, an inquiry which would have made known to you that no such suspicion was entertained. I admit that I made no effort to disprove the existence of such suspicions, nor did you inform me of any necessity for doing so. I should have left this, like many other similar misrepresentations, to be answered by the sound judgment and patriotism of the people if it had not been indorsed by the Governor of the State, or some equally respectable authority.
Fourth. You complain that "conscription, ruthless and unrelenting, has only been exceeded in the severity of its execution by the impressment of property frequently intrusted to men unprincipled, dishonest, and filled to overflowing with all the petty meanness of small minds, dressed in a little brief authority. The files of my office are piled up with the unavailing complaints of outraged citizens to whom redress is impossible." I will not assume to say that in North Carolina, as elsewhere, subordinate officers may not have been guilty of misconduct and harshness. I have lamented such abuses and done my utmost to correct them whenever brought to my knowledge. But I am at a loss to conceive how you can assert that these complaints were "unavailing,"