With this admission I proceed to say that the orders are founded upon certain laws of war treated of in every respectable work on that subject. The stoppage of goods contraband is clearly my right, and I contend that it is as much my duty to stop money going to rebel soldiers and citizens as clothing, medicinal supplies, &c.
Next, I say that it is not possible, in my opinion, for the orders to conflict in any manner with the acts of Congress you have cited or with the President's order, for the reasons:
First. It is not proposed to confiscate either property or money. The rents, interest upon debts, dividends and stocks, profits of farms, hire of slaves, &c., are merely paid to my post quartermaster, who is a bounded officer, and who has no authority by the orders to convert, use, or otherwise dispose of them. He merely holds them in his custody for certain objects, viz: To deprive the rebel citizen or soldier of their use and benefit. To keep them in possession, so that if the law officers of the Government ever to prosecute the properties to judgments of confiscation the revenues arising therefrom up to dates of judgment will be at the disposal of the Government or the court.
Second. The orders were intended not merely to cripple active enemies by depriving them of revenues, but also to assist the law officers of the Government by discovering properties liable to be confiscated, against which they are at liberty to proceed whenever they are so disposed. And I will remark in passing that my corps of detectives, summary notices, and expeditious procedures give me much superior facilities for discovering liable property that I believe every law officer who is as much in earnest in the discharge of his duties as you are, at least as I am in the discharge of mine, will, when he comes to understand it, be obliged to me for assistance thus rendered.
That an energetic execution of the acts named would go far toward rendering my orders superfluhe law officer has done in this district I beg leave to forward you a statement certified by the clerk of his court of the judgments condemnatory obtained to this date and of proceedings now pending. It exhibits but one cause pending and but one judgment rendered under which, by the way, there has not as yet been a sale of the equitable interest forfeited. On the other hand, to show what valuable assistance my orders are, if they should be accepted in that spirit, I also inclose for your inspection a report from Lieutenant-Colonel Bliss, who, under the orders, is my acting receiver. The colonel's exhibit, I beg you to bear in mind, is that of a few weeks, while the one judgment obtained by the U. S. attorney is the result of the labors of nearly three years.
You urge me in your letter to abstain from executing of my orders. I beg your pardon for saying that they were originally issued from a sense of duty, which still governs me, and which I must interpose as an apology for declining to accede to your request.
To illustrate the effect of the revocation of the orders I venture to give you the following:
I have seized the estate of rebel General George H. Steuart, of the conjectural value of $250,000, and situated on the banks of South River, Md. The property is protected by a flimsy deed of trust, executed to the grantor's sons, some of whom, like their father, are in the rebel [service], or at least have been, while the rest are venomous sympathizers-a deed cobbled up after the rebellion broke out, signed in Richmond, and acknowledged there before unrecognized authorities. The revocation you ask for would be to give back at your request to a wretched traitor his means of support, by which he would be enabled to devote himself at elegant leisure to his accursed work.