[RICHMOND,] March 31, 1862.
Report of S. S. Baxter of prisoners examined by him.
I have examined a number of persons, fugitives from Rockingham and Augusta Counties, who were arrested at Petersburg, in Hardy County. These men are all regular members in good standing in the Tunker [Dunkard] and Mennonite Churches. One of the tenets of those churches is that the law of God forbids shedding human blood in battle and this doctrine is uniformly taught to all their people. As all these persons are members in good standing in these churches and bear good characters as citizens and Christians I cannot doubt the sincerity of their declaration that they left home to avoid the draft of the militia and under the belief that by the draft they would be placed in a situation in which they would be compelled to violate their consciences. They all declare they had no intention to go to the enemy or remain with them. They all intended to return home as soon as the draft was over. Some of them and made exertions to procure substitutes. One man had sent the money to Richmond to hire a substitute. Others had done much to support the families of volunteers. Some had furnished horses to the cavalry. All of them are friendly to the South and they express a willingness to contribute all their property if necessary to establish our liberties. I am informed a law will progably pass exempting these persons from military duty on payment of a pecuniary compensation. These parties assure me all who are able will cheerfully pay this compensation. Those who are unable to make the payment will cheerfully go into service as teamsters or in any employment in which they are not required to shed blood. I recommend all the persons in the annexed list* be discharged on taking the oath of allegiance and agreeing to submit to the laws of Virginia and the Confederate States in all things except taking arms in war.
S. S. BAXTER.
In addition to these cases I report the case of Peter L. Goode, a broken-legged man, whom I believe to be incapable of military duty, and of John Sanger, a youth of sixteen years. Both these persons were arrested. They seem to have partaken in the Tunker [Dunkard] panic and fled with the others. I believe both of them are faithful and loyal to Virginia and the Confederate States. I recommend they also be discharged from prison here on taking the oath of allegiance and reporting themselves to the proper officer of the regiment of Virginia militia to have their claims to exemption acted on.
S. S. BAXTER.
WAR DEPARTMENT, Richmond, April 1, 1862.
Major General B. HUGER, Norfolk, Va.
SIR: Colonel M. J. Ferguson, of the One hundred and sixty-seventh Regiment Virginia Militia; Colonel J. W. Davis, of the Virginia cavalry battalion; Private H. Spurlock, Eighth Virginia Regiment of Cavalry, and Private William B. Compton, Thirty-first Virginia Militia Regiment, have applied to this Department for passports to return to Wheeling in order to surrender themselves in conformity with the terms of their parole as prisoners of war. The Department has refused to grant the passports
*Nominal list (omitted) shows forty-five persons.