cases of persons who ought to be exempted on account of " justice, equity, or necessity. " In considering the character of the case exempted it is evident that Congress contemplated the enumeration of all of the prescribed ages whose offices or functions seemed more essential to the public weal at home than in the service of the bill is, therefore, that the whole necessary operations of society and business can and must be done by the exempts and those above and below the prescribed ages, while all other white males capable of bearing arms shall be in the armies of the Confederacy for the sacred duty of public defense. This principle the Department rigidly applies, with but few inconsiderable exceptions of the clearest equity or necessity. An impression has strangely prevailed that the exemptions prescribed by the act availed as well to discharge from the Army as to exonerate from the call of conscription. For this no foundation can be found in the law, while the earnest aim, clearly expressed in the first act, to retain the Army as absolutely essential, as well as the general phraseology of the law, excludes such construction.
The whole scope and operation of the second act apply exclusively to those to be subjected to the expected call of the President, and the act of exemption, passed to limit and define it, can, of course, have no wider stretch. The very term of exemption implies freedom from a call to be made, not discharge from existing service. It is well, too, in every view, that such is the only reasonable construction of the acts, for a more mischievous mode could hardly have been devised to weaken and dissatisfy the Army than to have made the grounds of exemption causes of discharge. Apart from the inevitable loss in numbers to the Army, it could not be expected that the soldiers not embraced, seeing comrades equally capable of service discharged on such grounds as, for instance, that they had plantations with twenty slaves without other male adult on them, or because of their addiction to special mechanical, mining, or manufacturing pursuit, would not feel gravest discontent and indignation. Demoralization, if not more disastrous effects, must inevitably have ensued. There are certain classes of officers and employees not exactly engaged in State or Confederate service, yet so important in thtry, such as the officers and police of cities, firemen, superintendents of water or gas works, and the like, and others again essential to corporations, private in interest, but highly important to the transaction of general business or to works of public benevolence, such as the officers and clerks of express companies, of leading banks, evangelical societies, and similar institutions, to whom it might be advisable to extend the privilege of exemption. The classes of tradesmen or mechanics exempted in deference to the peculiar needs of society might also be enlarged. There are, too, in the Confederacy districts of not very fertile country where the citizens are generally in moderate circumstances and have few or no slaves. The draft on them of all the males between eighteen and forty will probably remove their laboring classes to such an extent as to edger scarcity and even destitution among the remainder. Some relaxation of the law graduating the number to be conscribed in proportion to be deficiency of slave labor in every county or district would be both equitable and judicious. One of the exemptions of the act, that which "to secure the proper police of the county" exempts "one person on each plantation of twenty negroes on which there is no white male adult not liable to military duty," has caused