During the month of April five vessels entered and fourteen cleared. From 1st to 20th of May, 1863, seven vessels entered and six cleared.
W. F. COLCOCK,
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OR EAST TENNESSEE,
Knoxville, May 21, 1863.
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General, Richmond, Va.:
SIR: The civil condition of East Tennessee is a subject of solicitude with me. Under the pressure of the enforcement of the conscript act several thousand of the young men of East Tennessee fled the territory and entered the ranks of the Federal Army. large numbers of others, to avoid the conscription, have fled from their homes and are lurking in the mountains, the woods, and the caves. They are chiefly men of families, who desire to avoid all military service in either army and yet wish to remain near their families. Many of these men, rendered desperate by their situation, are infesting the roads, waylaying the conscript officers, and, urged alike by necessity and a spirit of revenge and bitterness, are stealing horses and destroying the cattle, hogs, and products within their reach. Occasionally their depredations extend to the destructions of barns and house and injury to corps within their reach. The civil arm is paralyzed; the bitterness of faction is intense. The enforcement of order by the military arm, however we may seek to restrain its enemies, will often be attended by instances of unnecessary severity, giving room for the charge of persecution. In whatever light we view it the question is surrounded by difficulties that have doubtless attracted oftentimes the attention of the President. After considering the question as fully as my time will permit, I am convinced that the following policy would be the best solution to the difficult problem:
First. To exempt from conscription for a certain period - say six or eight months - such fugitives as within a limited time will return to the cultivation of their fields, and will lead a life of quiet and obedience to the laws. The effect of this would be to disperse or weaken the and which are scattered through the mountains; to cultivate and gather a more abundant crop, and to put an end to the molestation of the highways and the destruction and stealing of animals.
Second. To such as refuse to avail themselves of these privileges a severe policy should be pursued when practicable. They should be considered as alien enemies in armed opposition to the Government, and when captured regarded as prisoners of war and to be exchanged as such. I very fragrant cases a more severe policy might be pursued, but in most cases it would seem needless to try the offenders before a civil court, on account of the difficulty of obtaining two witnesses to the same overt act. To do so would be equivalent to releasing them in our midst, to renew their former course of depredations.
Third. With a view to local defense against such depredations I am encouraging, with some prospect of success, the formation of volunteer companies for local defense, under the act of October 13, 1862. As the people are generally unarmed, their arms having been taken for other purposes by the State authorities, I propose, with your concurrence, issuing to these organization the squirrel and shot guns now in the arsenal here. In an emergency these companies may add somewhat to the security of the bridge defenses.