War of the Rebellion: Serial 127 Page 1138 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.

Search Civil War Official Records

by no possibility be aught else than a law to "raise an army?" Can one and the same law be constructed into a "calling forth the militia," of the war be defensive, and a "raising of armies," if the war be offensive? At some future day, after our independence shall have been established, it is no improbable supposition that our present enemy may be tempted to abuse his naval power by depredations on our commerce, and that we may be compelled to assert our rights by offensive war. How is it to be carried on? Of what is the army to be composed? If this Government cannot call on its arms-bearing population otherwise than as militia, and if the militia can only be called forth to repel invasion, we should be utterly helpless to vindicate our honor or protect our rights. War has been well styled "the terrible litigation of nations. " Have we so formed our Government that this litigation we must never be plaintiff? Surely this cannot have been the intention of the framers of our compact. In no aspect in which I can view this law can I find just reason to district the propriety of my action in approving and singing it, and the question presented involves consequences both immediate and remote too numerous to permit me to leave your objections unanswered.

In conclusion I take great pleasure in recognizing that the history of the past year affords the amplest justification for your assertion that of the question had been whether the conscription law was necessary in order to raise men in Georgia the answer must have been in the negative. Your noble State has promptly responded to every call that it has been my duty to make on her, and to you personally, as her Executive, I acknowledge my indebtedness for the prompt, cordial, and effective co-operation you have afforded me in the effort to defend our common country against the common enemy.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

JEFFERSON DAVIS.

[MAY 29, 1862. - For Secretary of War to Governor of Arizona, authorizing the raising or five battalions for the Confederate service, see Series I, VOL. L, Part I, p. 1108.]

EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT,

Richmond, Va., May 30, 1862.

Governor J. J. PETTUS,

Jackson, Miss.:

SIR: Your letter of the 14th instant, in relation to the operation of the conscription law in the State of Mississippi, has been received and referred to the War Department for consideration. The following is the report thereon:

CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA, WAR DEPARTMENT,

Richmond, Va., May 29, 1862.

His Excellency JEFFERSON DAVIS,

President of the Confederate States of America:

SIR: The letter of the Governor of Mississippi, referred to this Department, has been duly considered, and I have the honor to report that applications of a similar character have been very numerous, and I have uniformly replied that overseers not being exempted by the act of Congress, the Department has no authority to extend the provisions of the law. I have pointed out that the remedy was to be found in an application to Congress at its next session in August, and that in the meantime great injury could not result, for the following reasons, viz: First, the conscription act exempted all persons over thirty-five years of age; second, the