War of the Rebellion: Serial 128 Page 0128 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.

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spirit of the law, if not letter, might authorize a discharge of persons in actual service in order "to secure the proper police of the country. " Whilst the language of the present exemption law in all the provisions, except the one before noticed, confines it to the time of its enactment in ascertaining the persons to be exempted, it must not be overlooked that the conscription act of the last session of Congress subjects only those to military service who are between the ages of thirty-five and forty-five at the time the call is made, and who are at such time not legally exempt.

I have the honor to remain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

T. H. WATTS,

Attorney-General.

CANTON, GA., October 18, 1862.

His Excellency JEFFERSON DAVIS:

DEAR SIR: The act of Congress passed at its late session extending the conscription act, unlike its predecessor of which it is amendatory, gives you power in certain contingencies, of the happening of which you must be the judge, to suspend its operation and accept troops from the States under any of the former acts upon that subject. By former acts you were authorized to accept troops from the States organized into companies, battalions, and regiments. The conscription act of 16th of April last repealed these acts, but the late act revives them when you suspend it. For the reasons then given I entered my protest against the first conscription act on account of its unconstitutionality and refused to permit the enrollment of any State officer, civil or military, who was necessary to the integrity of the State government. But on account of the emergencies of the country growing out of the neglect of the Confederate authorities to call upon the State for a sufficient amount of additional force to supply the placed of the twelve-months' troops, and on account of the repeal of the former laws upon that subject, having for the time placed it out of your power to accept troops organized by the States in the constitutional mode, I interposed no active resistance to the enrollment of persons in this Stat between eighteen and thirty-five who were not officers necessary to the maintenance of the government of the State. The first conscription act took from the State only part of her military force. She retained her officers and all her militia between thirty-five and forty-five. Her military organization was neither disbanded nor destroyed. She had permitted a heavy draft to be made upon it, without constitutional authority, rather than her fidelity to our cause should be questioned or the enemy should gain any advantage growing out of what her authorities might consider unwise councils. But she still retained an organization subject to the command of her constituted authorities, which she could use for the protection of her public property, the execution of her laws, the repulsion of invasion, or the suppression of servile insurrection which our insidious foe now proclaims to the world that it is his intention to incite, which if done may result in an indiscriminate massacre of helpless women and children.

At this critical period in our public affairs, when it is absolutely necessary that each State keep an organization for home protection, Congress with your sanction has extended the conscription act to embrace all between thirty-five and forty-five subject to military duty,