Federal or even State court. I send you, however, by this mail the Digest of Opinions of the Judge-Advoacate-General, recently published by this Bureau, in which, on pages 79 and 80, an opinion on the point of jurisdiction is substantially set forth. To the extract in the digest is added also the following paragraph, found in the opinion as contained in the records of the Bureau:
Moreover, the offense of these parties were committed in a locality under the pressure of a vast civil war, the effect of which is ex necessitate to suspend for a time, for the preservation of the whole, some portions of the legal safeguards thrown around the citizen in time of peace. Indeed by military courts has been too frequently and too authoritatively decided to belong to the Government of the United States to render it necessary to repeat the argument on the subject.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Wheeling, W. Va., May 5, 1865.
Honorable EDWIN M. STANTON,
Secretary of War, Washington, D. C.:
SIR: I respectfully call your attention to the iclosed copy of an order from Lieutenant-General to the commander of the Middle Military Division,* in which it is said that rebel officers and soldiers who surrender on the same terms that were given to Lee may return to their homes in West Virginia on their parole, while they are not allowed to return to Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, &c., and request your decision thereon so far as it affects West Virginia. From the face of this order I am induced to believe that General Grant was controlled in his decision by the simple fact that Virginia (of which we were a part) passes an ordinance of secession; but in my opinion this fact should not place this State in the category assigned her by this order. I think she is entitled to the same protection that is extended to Maryland, Kentucky, &c. It seems to me that we are entitled to the benefit of Attorney-General Speed's late opinion.
West Virginia has been loyal from the beginning, and has at all times heretofore been treated as such by the Government. In the President's proclamation declaring what was insurrectionary territory, and following this with emancipation and the imposition of various restrictions, she has been excepted. She has furnished her quota of troops under all calls without murmur or compaint, and as you have been pleased to bear public testimony, those troops have done noble service for the country and have reflected honor on their State.
Our situation is a peculiarly unfortunate one. Situated on the border, very many went from here into the rebel army, and now they return, wearing their rebel rebel uniforms, and many of them with as much impudence and insolted as when they went away. The loyal people here feel themselves insulted by the conduct of these rebels, and are only restrained from decided action by their love of law and order and their great respect for the orders of those in authority.
If it shall be decided that these paroled men may come here under the terms of their surrender, is it intended that the war power guarantees this right as against State regulations? I request your early consideration of this matter, and if your opinion is adverse to the return
*See Series I, Vol. XLVI, Part III, p.838.