War of the Rebellion: Serial 128 Page 0221 CONFEDERATE AUTHORITIES.

Search Civil War Official Records

orders for the call were issued 28th of April. The exemption act of October was approved at the same time as the conscription act. The conscription act operates upon a portion of the population not belonging to the Army, and the exemption act applies to limit the generality of that act by a special reference to it. The disbanding of any portion of the Army or the discharge of individual soldiers from the specific contract for service under their enlistment is nowhere spoken of. On the contrary, the act of April with a strong hand retained men in the Army whose contract for service had expired, or would expire in a few days, without any reference to any exemption. The Department does not consider the exemption act of October. These general views will explain the decision of the Department upon the case of Beckham. He is in the Army under a contract of service. The police clause in the exemption act has no reference to the Army more than nay other. It could hardly have been possible for Congress to propose that every owner of five, six, or twenty slaves (as the State laws may be) should retire form the service to take care of his domestic interests under the name of preserving the police of the country. It might be well that of those between thirty-five and forty-five a portion should be retained to perform police duty and to guard the domestic tranquillity of the country. The case of Stallworth is one of hardship. If he is unable to perform duty he ought to be discharged; but the condition of his body must be decided by officers appointed for that purpose by law. His resignation discharged him from the contract of enlistment or for service as contained in his original muster, but on returning to civil life the law operated on him as to others in civil life. If he is between the ages of eighteen and thirty-five, as is implied, the act of April operates upon him, and the Presidential call, unless it is limited, embraces him. he would not be entitled to apply the exemption act of October, for when the call for service was made the exemption did not exist. But these views are communicated not as a decision of the case, but as suggestions to prepare it. Article X, PAGE14, as per Orders 82, shows that the facts should be exhibited to the enrolling officer, and that it comes here by appeal from the camp of instruction. A copy of those orders is inclosed. *

Very respectfully,


Assistant Secretary of War.


J. D. BURDETT, Esq.:

SIR: Your letter of the 24th ultimo has been received. The Department found very early that the exemption granted to firemen in Augusta was a mistake. Applications for exemption and abuse of that privilege of exemption was discerned to be an inevitable consequence. The Department has refused the privilege to Atlanta and


*See p. 160.