raised by authority of the Secretary of War, General Holmes, General Hill, and General E. K. Smith, and the authority of these names is respected by the enrolling officers to the great detriment of the conscript act, and that you underestimate it. Many of these companies are unequipped, unarmed, and have only a paper organization to keep them from an enrollment of conscripts; and I greatly regret that it cannot b made manifest to you what little service they are and what a great and serious damage they are doing to the conscript act, and through it to the whole country. They ought not to have been taken from the conscripts, and I trust for the sake of the country it is not too late to disband them and return them to the conscripts. If that cannot be done it would be of some service to the country and save a deal of expense if they were dismounted. I understand it is proposed to correct the evil by organizing these independent companies into regiments. That is directly at variance with the policy of the conscript law, and I may say of the country, to increase the number of skeleton regiments instead of filling up those already organized and well officered. The most in experienced and indifferently qualified officers are now most likely to be chosen, and it will greatly increase the number of the officers, and army machinery more expensive and less effective.
Another object I had in this matter was to ascertain from you what companies were properly raised, that I might have a guide for the payment of bounty which I am authorized to pay to all legally raised companies; and to perform that duty I must know who really have the proper authority. I question very much whether the act authorizing you to accept partisan rangers can be construed to authorize the Confederate authorities to raise and organize additional regiments of infantry and cavalry, as has been done in the case of Love, Palmer, Wheelernd others. I understand they are called partisan rangers, but they are in every particular newly organized regiments of cavalry, and Colonel Love of infantry, and I invite your consideration to the fact of its interference with State authorities as well as the policy of the conscript law, and when you set aside your Confederate acts the States will certainly follow so bad an example. All of these companies are made of the best material in the State, but they are unavailable and worthless for want of officers.
Very respectfully, yours,
HENRY T. CLARK.
RICHMOND, VA., August 30, 1862.
Hons. GEORGE B. HODGE and W. B. MACHEN,
Members of Congress from Kentucky:
GENTLEMEN: In response to several inquiries made by you in a note addressed to me yesterday I have the honor to reply. You asked, first, "whether under existing laws the President has power to suspend the enactment of Congress in regard to the conscription in Kentucky, and receive volunteers from that State who have or may organize themselves into companies, battalions, and regiments, electing their own officers. " My reply is that I do not think the President has such power, and this reply embraces a response to your second question also. In answer to your third question, "whether additional legislation is desirable on the part of Congress to invest the President with such power," I reply that in my opinion it is desirable.