I regret to learn that no law of your State allows the calling out as militia any over the age of forty-five, as I hoped the announced purpose, in case of a deficiency in the proposed organizations to call on the militia, would have presented to almost every man in you State capable of [bearing] arms the choice between a volunteer organization and service in the militia; still, although in this respect the alternative of choice between the two modes of service will not extend as generally as was anticipated, the number of exempts, and those between the ages of forty-five who, until called out by the President under the law of conscription, would be liable to militia duty, would, in your large and populous State, be sufficiently great to assure very nearly, of not quite, the force for which requisition was made on you. I do not doubt, therefore, that in the mode originally contemplated the number of men required might be obtained in organizations under the law of 1861, which, for the reasons mentioned in my letter, and since in my telegrams, are thought decidedly preferable to militia, or organizations on a basis similar to the militia, for a limited period of service.
As I have also explained in my telegrams, I have no power, even if I wished, to preclude the people from forming volunteer organizations under the law of 1861, and tendering them for service, which, when accepted, would exempt from the liability to militia call. It is not perceived by me, how I can or ought to prevent such organizations, and case entirely upon the State authority the formation of corps for local defense. You will observe the call on you was not, in the first instance, for the force required as militia, but only for such number of militia as had not been met by the voluntary organizations. Thus the view strongly presented by you, that, as the call is made on you, the whole matter should be committed to your discretion and control, loses much of its applicability and force.
The difficulties, delays, and confusion you anticipate as arising from the organization of these volunteer association under the auspices of the Department are not apprehended as likely to occur. The process of forming the organizations is very simple and familiar to your people as having been generally adopted in volunteering for the Provisional Army. There will be no occasion to send on to the Department here anything but the muster-rolls, duly authenticated, which, under the regulations to be issued, may be verified by a judge, justice, or colonel of militia. I think, with deference, the whole matter of prompt and easy accomplishment.
My sole purpose, however, is to secure the requisite force with the greatest facility and least delay, and of organizations of equal efficiency can be secured more readily by your executive action, I shall be happy to accord the supervision and direction to you. As organizations are voluntarily made under the law of 1861, by the action of the people, I must, of course, accept them; but, as I have informed you, I shall abstain from giving any further authority or permits to Confederate officers, and leave to you to encourage and arrange such organizations.
As far as I can gather your wishes, you prefer organizations under State authority and their acceptance as State troops. I do not deem it desirable, chiefly on account of the limited term of their proposed service engagement (six months), that they should be mustered and received as militia; but if you can organize State volunteer organizations of equal duration and equal liability to call for special service as emergency may demand and tender them for acceptance to the