so large a proportion of the militia officers of this State as to disband the militia in the event they should be compelled to leave their commands. This would leave me without the power to reorganize them, as vacancy can only be created in one of these offices by resignation of the incumbent, or by the voluntary performance of some act which amounts to an abandonment of his command, or by a sentence of a court-martial dismissing him from office. The officer who is dragged from his command by conscription or compulsion and placed in the ranks is in neither category, and his office is no more vacated than the office of a judge would be if he were ordered into military service without his consent. And unless there be a vacancy I have no right to fill the place either by ordering an election or by a brevet appointment. I have no right to fill the place either by ordering an election or by a brevet appointment. I have no right in either case to commission a successor so long as there is a legal incumbent. Viewing the conscription act in this particular as not only unconstitutional, but as striking a blow at the very existence of the State by disbanding the portion of her militia left within her limits when much the larger part of her arms-bearing people are absent in other States in the military service of the Confederacy, leaving their families and other helpless women and children subject to massacre by negro insurrection for want of an organized force to suppress it, I felt it an imperative duty which I owed the people of this State to inform you in a former letter that I could not permit the disorganization to take place nor the State officers to be compelled to leave their respective commands and enter the Confederate service as conscripts. Were it not a fact well known to the country that you now have in service tens thousands of men without arms and with no immediate prospect of getting arms, who must remain for months consumers of our scanty supplies of provisions, without ability to render service, while their labor would be most valuable in their farms and workshops, there might be the semblance of a plea of necessity of their people unprotected an go into camps of instruction under Confederate officers often much more ignorant than themselves of military science or training. I must, therefore, adhere to my position and maintain the integrity of the State government in its executive, legislative, judicial, and military departments as long as I can command suffice force to prevent it from being disbanded and its people reduced to a state of provincial dependence upon the central you to attribute it only to my zeal in the advocacy of principles and a cause which I consider, no less than the cause of constitutional liberty, imperiled by the erroneous views and practice of those placed upon the watchtower as its constant guardians.
In conclusion, I beg to assure you that I fully appreciate your expressions of personal kindness, and reciprocate them in my feelings toward you to the fullest extent. I know the vast responsibilities resting upon you, and would never willingly add unnecessarily to their weight or in any way embarrass you in the discharge of your important duties. While I cannot agree with you in opinion upon theunder discussion, I beg you to command me at all times when I can do you a personal service, or when I can, without a violation of the constitutional obligations resting upon me, do any service to the great cause in which we are all so vitally interested.
Hoping that a kind Providence may give you wisdom so to conduct the affairs of our young Confederacy as may result in the early achieve-