War of the Rebellion: Serial 128 Page 0186 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.

Search Civil War Official Records

The falling off is attributable to those counties and parts of counties in the possession of the enemy. The deduction for the newt year will be still greater, owing to this advance, the destruction of property, &c.

The report of the Board of Claims on the subject of the finances is herewith transmitted. * In view of the very great labor now imposed upon the treasury department and the variety of duties it embraces, I recommend the creation of the office of auditor of public accounts, to continue so long as may be deemed necessary, whose duty it shall be to investigate and settle all claims against the State, &c. When the term of the present Board of Claims shall expire it will be necessary to have some such on office in existence during the continuance of the war, and perhaps for many years after. Should it not be deemed advisable to establish to office of auditor, then I recommend that the Boar of Claims be continued and authorized to hold short sessions quarterly, and their pay be arranged in proportion to their labor.

* * * * *

I beg leave to make certain suggestions in regard to militia and to aiding the Confederate authorities in enforcing their efforts to maintain the efficiency of our armies. The ordinary penalties prescribed by our militia laws for the punishment of offenses, and disobedience of by our militia laws for the punishment of offenses, and disobedience of orders are adapted to peace times and are found now entirely inadequate. Wishing to spare our citizens the disagreeable spectacle of Confederate soldiers traversing the country to gather up delinquent conscripts, deserters, and absentees from the Army without leave, I decided to employ the militia for that purpose. I answered admirably, most of the officers having displayed great zeal and efficiency in gathering up rapidly all persons subject to military duty without offending the sensibilities of our people. But in some instances deserters and other shirking characters have set the officers at defiance and are enabled to evade arrest by the assistance of others, who conceal them, feed them, and in some cases resist the officers in the discharge of their duty. As the crime of desertion, so far as I know, is not an offense against the common law, so the concealing, aiding, and assisting a deserter to avoid recapture is not punishable in our courts. To aid the military authorities in arresting such persons I recommend that an act be passed for the punishment of any one who shall aid and assist them or in any manner prevent their recapture; and also to punish more severely the disobedience of laws by the militia. It also becomes my duty, gentlemen, to bring to your attention several serious matters connected with the administration of justice in the State. There is great danger of lawlessness overrunning the land, and in the abundance of military rulers and arbitrary authority people are beginning to forget that there is such a thing in existence as civil law, which is the master of us all. Though pre-eminently a conservative and law-abiding people, our society is already, beginning to suffer serious detriment from the violent and law-defying tendencies of the times. Murder, arson, disregard of obligations, oppression, and injustice are more common in some districts than they have been known. Not long since, as I am informed, a Confederate officer refused to permit the execution of a writ of habeas corpus within his camp, issued by competent authority, and drove the officer with denunciations and abuse from his presence. It should be our pride, as it is our duty and safety, to show our enemies abroad and our lawbreakers at home that the same glorious old common law which our fathers honored and observed in the midst of suffering and calamity

---------------

*Not found.

---------------