War of the Rebellion: Serial 124 Page 0396 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.

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assistant provost-marshals in this department had not always been judicious, and that I feared trouble from the want of discretion and common sense of many of them in the discharge of their duties. They have already made requisition for troops which results have shown to be wholly unnecessary. The habit of resorting to military force in every trifling case of resistance or opposition to the laws in becoming sufficiently common to be alarming. Such a practice entirely supplants the civil authorities, sets aside time-honored means for the enforcement of the laws of this country, destroys in the citizen that felling of personal interest in their execution through which alone we have maintained popular government, and prepares the public mind for the complete abdication of civil rule. I conceive it to be wisdom therefore to execute this conscription law by the aid of the civil authorities and the usual action of the people in obedience to them, and not until the last extremity to call upon the military for such service. I believe that in nearly every case in this department this law can be enforced without the use of soldiers.

The War Department has (I think judiciously) left the use of troops in this respect discretionary with department commanders. In every case in which I believe military force necessary to enforce the law completely I will furnish it on the requisition of the assistant provost-marshal-general for any of the States in this department; when I do not so believe I will notify him that he may communicate with you for such further action as the Government may think judicious.

I need not tell you that much and serious difficulty in the execution of this law may be made in indiscretion, imprudence or worse, nor how carefully rash and ill-advised proceedings should be avoided in the enforcement of a law which is, to say the least, not very palatable. It is much easier to make trouble than to control or subdue it.

You are not more earnest than I am to see the laws of the United States literally and promptly executed, but I consider it altogether for the interest of the Government that they should as far as possible continue to be enforced by the means usual in times past. it is neither wise nor politic to encourage the people to resort, on every trifling pretext of difficulty, to military force in the execution of civil law. Though such a practice may save the people time and trouble temporarily, it leads surely to the destruction of that feeling and habit upon which our civil institutions are based.

I am, colonel, respectfully, your obedient servant,


Major-General, Commanding.

[JUNE 21, 1863.- For correspondence relating to raising troops in New York, see Stonehouse to Stanton; Stanton to Stonehouse, Series I, Vol. XXVII, Part III, p. 253.]



Indianapolis, June 22, 1863.

Colonel JAMES B. FRY,


SIR: I have the honor to report that the expedition sent a week ago to Fulton County, in the Ninth District, returned to-day, having