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A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I/Second Congress, Second Session

< A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I

SECOND SESSION.

MET AT RICHMOND, VA., NOVEMBER 7, 1864. ADJOURNED MARCH 18, 1865.

MESSAGES.

Richmond, Va., November 7, 1864.

To the Senate and House of Representatives of the Confederate States of America.

It is with satisfaction that I welcome your presence at an earlier day than that usual for your session, and with confidence that I invoke the aid of your counsels at a time of such public exigency.

The campaign which was commenced almost simultaneously with your session early in May last, and which was still in progress at your adjournment in the middle of June, has not yet reached its close. It has been prosecuted on a scale and with an energy heretofore unequaled. When we revert to the condition of our country at the inception of the operations of the present year, to the magnitude of the preparations made by the enemy, the number of his forces, the accumulation of his warlike supplies, and the prodigality with which his vast resources have been lavished in the attempt to render success assured; when we contrast the numbers and means at our disposal for resistance, and when we contemplate the results of a struggle apparently so unequal, we cannot fail, while rendering the full meed of deserved praise to our generals and soldiers, to perceive that a power higher than man has willed our deliverance, and gratefully to recognize the protection of a kind Providence in enabling us successfully to withstand the utmost efforts of the enemy for our subjugation.

At the beginning of the year the State of Texas was partially in possession of the enemy, and large portions of Louisiana and Arkansas lay apparently defenseless. Of the Federal soldiers who invaded Texas, none are known to remain except as prisoners of war. In northwestern Louisiana a large and well-appointed army, aided by a powerful fleet, was repeatedly defeated, and deemed itself fortunate in finally escaping with a loss of one-third of its numbers, a large part of its military trains, and many transports and gunboats. The enemy's occupation of that State is reduced to the narrow district commanded by the guns of his fleet. Arkansas has been recovered with the exception of a few fortified posts, while our forces have penetrated into central Missouri, affording to our oppressed brethren in that State an opportunity, of which many have availed themselves, of striking for liberation from the tyranny to which they have been subjected.

On the east of the Mississippi, in spite of some reverses, we have much cause for gratulation. The enemy hoped to effect during the present year, by concentration of forces, the conquest which he had previously failed to accomplish by more extended operations. Compelled therefore to withdraw or seriously to weaken the strength of the armies of occupation at different points, he has afforded us the opportunity of recovering possession of extensive districts of our territory. Nearly the whole of northern and western Mississippi, of northern Alabama, and of western Tennessee are again in our possession, and all attempts to penetrate from the coast line into the interior of the Atlantic and Gulf States have been baffled. On the entire ocean and gulf coast of the Confederacy the whole success of the enemy, with the enormous naval resources at his command, has been limited to the capture of the outer defenses of Mobile Bay.

If we now turn to the results accomplished by the two great armies, so confidently relied on by the invaders as sufficient to secure the subversion of our Government and the subjugation of our people to foreign domination, we have still greater cause for devout gratitude to Divine Power. In southwestern Virginia successive armies, which threatened the capture of Lynchburg and Saltville, have been routed and driven out of the country, and a portion of eastern Tennessee reconquered by our troops. In northern Virginia extensive districts formerly occupied by the enemy are now free from their presence. In the lower Valley their general, rendered desperate by his inability to maintain a hostile occupation, has resorted to the infamous expedient of converting a fruitful land into a desert by burning its mills, granaries, and homesteads, and destroying the food, standing crops, live stock, and agricultural implements of peaceful noncombatants. The main army, after a series of defeats in which its losses have been enormous, after attempts by raiding parties to break up our railroad communications, which have resulted in the destruction of a large part of the cavalry engaged in the work, after constant repulse of repeated assaults on our defensive lines, is, with the aid of heavy reinforcements, but with, it is hoped, waning prospect of further progress in the design, still engaged in an effort commenced more than four months ago to capture the town of Petersburg.

The army of General Sherman, although succeeding at the end of the summer in obtaining possession of Atlanta, has been unable to secure any ultimate advantage from this success. The same general, who in February last marched a large army from Vicksburg to Meridian with no other result than being forced to march back again, was able, by the aid of greatly increased numbers and after much delay, to force a passage from Chattanooga to Atlanta, only to be for the second time compelled to withdraw on the line of his advance without obtaining control of a single mile of territory beyond the narrow track of his march, and without gaining aught beyond the precarious possession of a few fortified points in which he is compelled to maintain heavy garrisons and which are menaced with recapture.

The lessons afforded by the history of this war are fraught with instruction and encouragement. Repeatedly during the war have formidable expeditions been directed by the enemy against points ignorantly supposed to be of vital importance to the Confederacy. Some of these expeditions have, at immense cost, been successful, but in no instance have the promised fruits been reaped. Again, in the present campaign was the delusion fondly cherished that the capture of Atlanta and Richmond would, if effected, end the war by the overthrow of our Government and the submission of our people. We can now judge by experience how unimportant is the influence of the former event upon our capacity for defense, upon the courage and spirit of the people, and the stability of the Government. We may in like manner judge that if the campaign against Richmond had resulted in success instead of failure; if the valor of the army, under the leadership of its accomplished commander, had resisted in vain the overwhelming masses which were, on the contrary, decisively repulsed; if we had been compelled to evacuate Richmond as well as Atlanta — the Confederacy would have remained as erect and defiant as ever. Nothing could have been changed in the purpose of its Government, in the indomitable valor of its troops, or in the unquenchable spirit of its people. The baffled and disappointed foe would in vain have scanned the reports of your proceedings, at some new legislative seat, for any indication that progress had been made in his gigantic task of conquering a free people. The truth so patent to us must ere long be forced upon the reluctant Northern mind. There are no vital points on the preservation of which the continued existence of the Confederacy depends. There is no military success of the enemy which can accomplish its destruction. Not the fall of Richmond, nor Wilmington, nor Charleston, nor Savannah, nor Mobile, nor of all combined, can save the enemy from the constant and exhaustive drain of blood and treasure which must continue until he shall discover that no peace is attainable unless based on the recognition of our indefeasible rights.

Before leaving this subject it is gratifying to assure you that the military supplies essentially requisite for public defense will be found, as heretofore, adequate to our needs, and that abundant crops have rewarded the labor of the farmer and rendered abortive the inhuman attempt of the enemy to produce by devastation famine among the people.

FOREIGN RELATIONS.

It is not in my power to announce any change in the conduct of foreign powers. No such action has been taken by the Christian nations of Europe as might justly have been expected from their history, from the duties imposed by international law, and from the claims of humanity. It is charitable to attribute their conduct to no worse motive than indifference to the consequences of a struggle which shakes only the republican portion of the American continent, and not to ascribe to design a course calculated to insure the prolongation of hostilities.

No instance in history is remembered by me in which a nation pretending to exercise dominion over another asserting its independence has been the first to concede the existence of such independence. No case can be recalled to my mind in which neutral powers have failed to set the example of recognizing the independence of a nation when satisfied of the inability of its enemy to subvert its Government, and this, too, in cases where the previous relation between the contending parties had been confessedly that of mother country and dependent colony; not, as in our case, that of coequal States united by Federal compact. It has ever been considered the proper function and duty of neutral powers to perform the office of judging whether in point of fact the nation asserting dominion is able to make good its pretensions by force of arms, and if not, by recognition of the resisting party, to discountenance the further continuance of the contest. And the reason why this duty is incumbent on neutral powers is plainly apparent when we reflect that the pride and passion which blind the judgment of the parties to the conflict cause the continuance of active warfare and consequent useless slaughter long after the inevitable result has become apparent to all not engaged in the struggle. So long, therefore, as neutral nations fail, by recognition of our independence, to announce that in their judgment the United States are unable to reduce the Confederacy to submission, their conduct will be accepted by our enemies as a tacit encouragement to continue their efforts, and as an implied assurance that belief is entertained by neutral nations in the success of their designs. A direct stimulus, whether intentional or not, is thus applied to securing a continuance of the carnage and devastation which desolate this continent and which they profess deeply to deplore.

The disregard of this just, humane, and Christian public duty by the nations of Europe is the more remarkable from the fact that authentic expression has long since been given by the Governments of both France and England to the conviction that the United States are unable to conquer the Confederacy. It is now more than two years since the Government of France announced officially to the Cabinets of London and Saint Petersburg its own conclusion that the United States we're unable to achieve any decisive military success. In the answers sent by these powers no intimation of a contrary opinion was conveyed; and it is notorious that in speeches, both in and out of Parliament, the members of Her Britannic Majesty's Government have not hesitated to express this conviction in unqualified terms. The denial of our rights under these circumstances is so obviously unjust and discriminates so unfairly in favor of the United States that neutrals have sought to palliate the wrong of which they are conscious by professing to consider, in opposition to notorious truth and to the known belief of both belligerents, that the recognition of our independence would be valueless without their further intervention in the struggle, an intervention of which we disclaim the desire and mistrust the advantage. We seek no favor, we wish no intervention, we know ourselves fully competent to maintain our own rights and independence against the invaders of our country, and we feel justified in asserting that without the aid derived from recruiting their armies from foreign countries the invaders would ere this have been driven from our soil. When the recognition of the Confederacy was refused by Great Britain in the fall of 1862 the refusal was excused on the ground that any action by Her Majesty's Government would have the effect of inflaming the passions of the belligerents and of preventing the return of peace. It is assumed that this opinion was sincerely entertained; but the experience of two years of unequaled carnage shows that it was erroneous, and that the result was the reverse of what the British ministry humanely desired. A contrary policy, a policy just to us, a policy diverging from an unvarying course of concession to all the demands of our enemies, is still within the power of Her Majesty's Government, and would, it is fair to presume, be productive of consequences the opposite of those which have unfortunately followed its whole course of conduct from the commencement of the war until the present time. In a word, peace is impossible without independence, and it is not to be expected that the enemy will anticipate neutrals in the recognition of that independence.

When the history of the war shall be fully disclosed, the calm judgment of the impartial publicist will for these reasons be unable to absolve the neutral nations of Europe from a share in the moral responsibility for the myriads of human lives that have been unnecessarily sacrificed during its progress.

The renewed instances in which foreign powers have given us just cause for complaint need not here be detailed. The extracts from the correspondence of the State Department which accompany this message will afford such further information as can be given without detriment to the public interest, and we must reserve for the future such action as may then be deemed advisable to secure redress.

FINANCES.

Your especial attention is earnestly invited to the report of the Secretary of the Treasury, submitted in conformity with law. The facts therein disclosed are far from discouraging, and demonstrate that with judicious legislation we shall be enabled to meet all the exigencies of the war from our abundant resources and avoid at the same time such an accumulation of debt as would render at all doubtful our capacity to redeem it. The total receipts in the Treasury for the two quarters ending on the 30th of September, 1864, were $415,191,550, which sum, added to the balance of $308,282,722 that remained in the Treasury on the 1st of April last, forms a total of $723,474,272. Of this total, not far from half — that is to say, $342,560,327 — has been applied to the extinction of the public debt, while the total expenditures have been $272,378,505, leaving a balance in the Treasury on the 1st of October, 1864, of $108,535,440.

The total amount of the public debt, as exhibited on the books of the Register of the Treasury on the 1st of October, 1864, was $1,147,970,208, of which $539,340,090 was funded debt bearing interest, $283,880,150 was Treasury notes of the new issue, and the remainder consisted of the former issue of Treasury notes, which will be converted into other forms of debt, and will cease to exist as currency on the 31st of next month.

The report, however, explains that, in consequence of the absence of certain returns from distant officers, the true amount of the debt is less by about $21,500,000 than appears on the books of the Register, and that the total public debt on the 1st of last month may be fairly considered to have been $1,126,381,095.

The increase of the public debt during the six months from the 1st of April to the 1st of October was $97,650,780, being rather more than $16,000,000 per month, and it will be apparent, on a perusal of the report, that this augmentation would have been avoided and a positive reduction of the amount would have been effected but for certain defects in the legislation on the subject of finances, which are pointed out in the report and which seem to admit of easy remedy.

In the statements just made the foreign debt is omitted. It consists only of the unpaid balance of the loan known as the cotton loan. This balance is but £2,200,000 and is adequately provided for by about 250,000 bales of cotton owned by the Government, even if the cotton be rated as worth but 6 pence per pound.

There is one item of the public debt not included in the tables presented, to which your attention is required. The bounty bonds promised to our soldiers by the third section of the act of 17th of February, 1864, were deliverable on the 1st of October. The Secretary has been unable to issue them by reason of an omission in the law, no time being therein fixed for the payment of the bonds.

The aggregate appropriations called for by the different departments of the Government, according to the estimates submitted with the report, for the six months ending on the 30th of June, 1865, amount to $438,102,679, while the Secretary estimates that there will remain unexpended out of former appropriations, on the 1st of January, 1865, a balance of $467,416,504. It would therefore seem that former estimates have been largely in excess of actual expenditures, and that no additional appropriations are required for meeting the needs of the public service up to the 1st of July of next year. Indeed, if the estimates now presented should prove to be as much in excess of actual expenditures as has heretofore been the case, a considerable balance will still remain unexpended at the close of the first half of the ensuing year.

The chief difficulty to be apprehended in connection with our finances results from the depreciation of the Treasury notes, which seems justly to be attributed by the Secretary to two causes, redundancy in amount and want of confidence in ultimate redemption, for both of which remedies are suggested that will commend themselves to your consideration as being practical as well as efficient.

The main features of the plan presented are substantially these: First, that the faith of the Government be pledged that the notes shall ever remain exempt from taxation; second, that no issue shall be made beyond that which is already authorized by law; third, that a certain fixed portion of the annual receipts from taxation during the war shall be set apart especially for the gradual extinction of the outstanding amount until it shall have been reduced to $150,000,000: and fourth, the pledge and appropriation of such proportion of the tax in kind and for such number of years after the return of peace as shall be sufficient for the final redemption of the entire circulation.

The details of the plan, the calculations on which it is based, the efficiency of its operation, and the vast advantages which would result from its success are fully detailed in the report, and cannot be fairly presented in a form sufficiently condensed for this message. I doubt not it will receive from you that earnest and candid consideration which is merited by the importance of the subject.

The recommendations of the report for the repeal of certain provisions of the tax laws which produce inequality in the burden of taxation; for exempting all Government loans from taxation on capital, and from any adverse discrimination in taxation on income derived from them; for placing the taxation on banks on the same footing as the taxation of other corporate bodies; for securing the payment into the Treasury of that portion of the bank circulation which is liable to confiscation because held by alien enemies; for the conversion of the interest-bearing Treasury notes now outstanding into coupon bonds, and for the quarterly collection of taxation — all present practical questions for legislation, which, if wisely devised, will greatly improve the public credit and alleviate the burdens now imposed by the extreme and unnecessary depreciation in the value of the currency.

The returns of the Produce Loan Bureau are submitted with the report, and the information is conveyed that the Treasury agency in the Trans-Mississippi Department has been fully organized and is now in operation, with promise of efficiency and success.

The provision heretofore made to some extent for increasing the compensation of public officers, civil and military, is found to be in some places inadequate to their support, perhaps not more so anywhere than in Richmond, and inquiry with a view to appropriate remedy is suggested to your consideration. Your notice is also called to the condition of certain officers of the Treasury, who were omitted in the law heretofore passed for the relief of other public officers, as mentioned in the report of the Secretary of the Treasury.

DEPARTMENT OF WAR.

The condition of the various branches of the military service is stated in the accompanying report of the Secretary of War. Among the suggestions made for legislative action, with a view to add to the number and efficiency of the Army, all of which will receive your consideration, there are some prominent topics which merit special notice.

The exemption from military duty now accorded by law to all persons engaged in certain specified pursuits or professions is shown by experience to be unwise, nor is it believed to be defensible in theory. The defense of home, family, and country is universally recognized as the paramount political duty of every member of society, and in a form of government like ours, where each citizen enjoys an equality of rights and privileges, nothing can be more invidious than an unequal distribution of duties and obligations. No pursuit or position should relieve any one who is able to do active duty from enrollment in the Army, unless his functions or services are more useful to the defense of his country in another sphere. But it is manifest that this cannot be the case with entire classes. All telegraph operators, workmen in mines, professors, teachers, engineers, editors and employees of newspapers, journeymen printers, shoemakers, tanners, blacksmiths, millers, physicians, and the numerous other classes mentioned in the laws cannot in the nature of things be equally necessary in their several professions, nor distributed throughout the country in such proportions that only the exact numbers required are found in each locality; nor can it be everywhere impossible to replace those within the conscript age by men older and less capable of active field services. A discretion should be vested in the military authorities, so that a sufficient number of those essential to the public service might be detailed to continue the exercise of their pursuits or professions; but the exemption from service of the entire classes should be wholly abandoned. It affords great facility for abuses, offers the temptation as well as the ready means of escaping service by fraudulent devices, and is one of the principal obstructions to the efficient operation of the conscript laws.

A general militia law is needful in the interest of the public defense. The Constitution, by vesting the power in Congress, imposes on it the duty of providing "for organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the Confederate States." The great diversity in the legislation of the several States on this subject, and the absence of any provision establishing an exact method for calling the militia into Confederate service, are sources of embarrassment which ought no longer to be suffered to impede defensive measures.

The legislation in relation to the cavalry demands change. The policy of requiring men to furnish their own horses has proven pernicious in many respects. It interferes with discipline, impairs efficiency, and is the cause of frequent and prolonged absence from appropriate duty. The subject is fully treated in the Secretary's report, with suggestions as to the proper measures for reforming that branch of the service.

The recommendation hitherto often made is again renewed, that some measure be adopted for the reorganization and consolidation of companies and regiments when so far reduced in numbers as seriously to impair their efficiency. It is the more necessary that this should be done, as the absence of legislation on the subject has forced generals in the field to resort to various expedients for approximating the desired end. It is surely an evil that a commanding officer should be placed in a position which forces upon him the choice of allowing the efficiency of his command to be seriously impaired or of attempting to supply by the exercise of doubtful authority the want of proper legal provision. The regard for the sensibility of officers who have heretofore served with credit, and which is believed to be the controlling motive that has hitherto obstructed legislation on this subject, however honorable and proper, may be carried to a point which seriously injures the public good; and if this be the case, it can scarcely be questioned which of the two considerations should be deemed paramount.

The Secretary's recommendations on the subject of facilitating the acquisition of the iron required for maintaining the efficiency of railroad communication on the important military lines are commended to your favor. The necessity for the operation in full vigor of such lines is too important to need comment.

The question in dispute between the two Governments relative to the exchange of prisoners of war has been frequently presented in former messages and reports, and is fully treated by the Secretary. The solicitude of the Government for the relief of our captive fellow-citizens has known no abatement, but has, on the contrary, been still more deeply evoked by the additional sufferings to which they have been wantonly subjected by deprivation of adequate food, clothing, and fuel, which they were not even permitted to purchase from the prison sutlers. Finding that the enemy attempted to excuse their barbarous treatment by the unfounded allegation that it was retaliatory for like conduct on our part, an offer was made by us with a view of ending all pretext for such recriminations or pretended retaliation.

The offer has been accepted, and each Government is hereafter to be allowed to provide necessary comforts to its own citizens held captive by the other. Active efforts are in progress for the immediate execution of this agreement, and it is hoped that but few days will elapse before we shall be relieved from the distressing thought that painful physical suffering is endured by so many of our fellow-citizens whose fortitude in captivity illustrates the national character as fully as did their valor in actual conflict.

EMPLOYMENT OF SLAVES.

The employment of slaves for service with the Army as teamsters or cooks, or in the way of work upon the fortifications, or in the Government workshops, or in hospitals and other similar duties, was authorized by the act of 17th of February last, and provision was made for their impressment to a number not exceeding 20,000, if it should be found impracticable to obtain them by contract with the owners. The law contemplated the hiring only of the labor of these slaves, and imposed on the Government the liability to pay for the value of such as might be lost to the owners from casualties resulting from their employment in the service.

This act has produced less result than was anticipated, and further provision is required to render it efficacious; but my present purpose is to invite your consideration to the propriety of a radical modification in the theory of the law.

Viewed merely as property, and therefore as the subject of impressment, the service or labor of the slave has been frequently claimed for short periods in the construction of defensive works. The slave, however, bears another relation to the State — that of a person. The law of last February contemplates only the relation of the slave to the master and limits the impressment to a certain term of service.

But for the purposes enumerated in the act, instruction in the manner of encamping, marching, and parking trains is needful; so that even in this limited employment length of service adds greatly to the value of the negro's labor. Hazard is also encountered in all the positions to which negroes can be assigned for service with the Army, and the duties required of them demand loyalty and zeal. In this respect the relation of person predominates so far as to render it doubtful whether the private right of property can consistently and beneficially be continued, and it would seem proper to acquire for the public service the entire property in the labor of the slave, and to pay therefor due compensation rather than to impress his labor for short terms; and this the more especially as the effect of the present law would vest this entire property in all cases where the slave might be recaptured after compensation for his loss had been paid to the private owner. Whenever the entire property in the service of a slave is thus acquired by the Government, the question is presented by what tenure he should be held. Should he be retained in servitude, or should his emancipation be held out to him as a reward for faithful service, or should it be granted at once on the promise of such service; and if emancipated, what action should be taken to secure for the freedman the permission of the State from which he was drawn to reside within its limits after the close of the public service? The permission would doubtless be more readily accorded as a reward for past faithful service, and a double motive for a zealous discharge of duty would thus be offered to those employed by the Government — their freedom and the gratification of the local attachment which is so marked a characteristic of the negro, and forms so powerful an incentive to his action. The policy of engaging to liberate the negro on his discharge after service faithfully rendered seems to me preferable to that of granting immediate manumission, or that of retaining him in servitude. If this policy should recommend itself to the judgment of Congress, it is suggested that, in addition to the duties heretofore performed by the slave, he might be advantageously employed as pioneer and engineer laborer, and in that event that the number should be augmented to 40,000.

Beyond these limits and these employments it does not seem to me desirable, under existing circumstances, to go. A broad moral distinction exists between the use of slaves as soldiers in defense of their homes and the incitement of the same persons to insurrection against their masters. The one is justifiable, if necessary, the other is iniquitous and unworthy of a civilized people; and such is the judgment of all writers on public law, as well as that expressed and insisted on by our enemies in all wars prior to that now waged against us. By none have the practices of which they are now guilty been denounced with greater severity than by themselves in the two wars with Great Britain, in the last and in the present century; and in the Declaration of Independence of 1776, when enumeration was made of the wrongs which justified the revolt from Great Britain, the climax of atrocity was deemed to be reached only when the English monarch was denounced as having "excited domestic insurrections amongst us."

The subject is to be viewed by us, therefore, solely in the light of policy and our social economy. When so regarded, I must dissent from those who advise a general levy and arming of the slaves for the duty of soldiers. Until our white population shall prove insufficient for the armies we require and can afford to keep in the field, to employ as a soldier the negro, who has merely been trained to labor, and as a laborer [under] the white man, accustomed from his youth to the use of firearms, would scarcely be deemed wise or advantageous by any; and this is the question now before us. But should the alternative ever be presented of subjugation or of the employment of the slave as a soldier, there seems no reason to doubt what should then be our decision. Whether our view embraces what would, in so extreme a case, be the sum of misery entailed by the dominion of the enemy, or be restricted solely to the effect upon the welfare and happiness of the negro population themselves, the result would be the same. The appalling demoralization, suffering, disease, and death which have been caused by partially substituting the invader's system of police for the kind relation previously subsisting between the master and slave have been a sufficient demonstration that external interference with our institution of domestic slavery is productive of evil only. If the subject involved no other consideration than the mere right of property, the sacrifices heretofore made by our people have been such as to permit no doubt of their readiness to surrender every possession in order to secure their independence. But the social and political question, which is exclusively under the control of the several States, has a far wider and more enduring importance than that of pecuniary interest. In its manifold phases it embraces the stability of our republican institutions, resting on the actual political equality of all its citizens, and includes the fulfillment of the task which has been so happily begun — that of Christianizing and improving the condition of the Africans who have, by the will of Providence, been placed in our charge. Comparing the results of our own experience with those of the experiments of others who have borne similar relation to the African race, the people of the several States of the Confederacy have abundant reason to be satisfied with the past, and will use the greatest circumspection in determining their course. These considerations, however, are rather applicable to the improbable contingency of our need of resorting to this element of resistance than to our present condition. If the recommendation above made, for the training of 40,000 negroes for the service indicated, shall meet your approval, it is certain that even this limited number, by their preparatory training in intermediate duties, would form a more valuable reserve force in case of urgency than threefold their number suddenly called from field labor, while a fresh levy could, to a certain extent, supply their places in the special service for which they are now employed.

OTHER DEPARTMENTS.

The regular annual reports of the Attorney General, the Secretary of the Navy, and the Postmaster General are appended, and give ample information relative to the condition of the respective Departments. They contain suggestions for legislative provisions required to remedy such defects in the existing laws as have been disclosed by experience, but none of so general or important a character as to require that I should do more than recommend them to your favorable consideration.

NEGOTIATIONS FOR PEACE.

The disposition of this Government for a peaceful solution of the issues which the enemy has referred to the arbitrament of arms has been too often manifested and is too well known to need new assurances. But while it is true that individuals and parties in the United States have indicated a desire to substitute reason for force, and by negotiations to stop the further sacrifice of human life, and to arrest the calamities which now afflict both countries, the authorities who control the Government of our enemies have too often and too clearly expressed their resolution to make no peace, except on terms of our unconditional submission and degradation, to leave us any hope of the cessation of hostilities until the delusion of their ability to conquer us is dispelled. Among those who are already disposed for peace many are actuated by principle and by disapproval and abhorrence of the iniquitous warfare that their Government is waging, while others are moved by the conviction that it is no longer to the interest of the United States to continue a struggle in which success is unattainable. Whenever this fast-growing conviction shall have taken firm root in the minds of a majority of the Northern people, there will be produced that willingness to negotiate for peace which is now confined to our side. Peace is manifestly impossible unless desired by both parties to this war, and the disposition for it among our enemies will be best and most certainly evoked by the demonstration on our part of ability and unshaken determination to defend our rights, and to hold no earthly price too dear for their purchase. Whenever there shall be on the part of our enemies a desire for peace, there will be no difficulty in finding means by which negotiation can be opened; but it is obvious that no agency can be called into action until this desire shall be mutual. When that contingency shall happen, the Government, to which is confided the treaty-making power, can be at no loss for means adapted to accomplish so desirable an end. In the hope that the day will soon be reached when under Divine favor these States may be allowed to enter on their former peaceful pursuits and to develop the abundant natural resources with which they are blessed, let us, then, resolutely continue to devote our united and unimpaired energies to the defense of our homes, our lives, and our liberties. This is the true path to peace. Let us tread it with confidence in the assured result.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., November 9, 1864.

To the Senate and House of Representatives.

I herewith transmit for your consideration a communication from the Secretary of War, showing that a dangerous conspiracy exists in some of the counties of southwestern Virginia and in the neighboring portions of North Carolina and Tennessee, which it is found impracticable to suppress by the ordinary course of law. The facts are so fully exhibited by the report and accompanying papers, herewith submitted, that I consider it unnecessary to repeat them or to do more than invite your early attention to disclosures upon which I deem it my duty to recommend the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus in order that full efficacy may be given to the military power for the repression of the evil.

It may be proper here to add that after the expiration of the term for which the writ was suspended serious embarrassment was encountered, particularly at Mobile, Wilmington, and Richmond, on account of the inability of the military authorities to arrest and hold suspected persons against whom the testimony was sufficient to give full assurance that they were spies or holding treasonable communication with the enemy, though legal proof could not be adduced to secure their commitment and conviction by the courts, either because of the character of the evidence or of the necessity for concealing the sources of information, which were not infrequently within the enemy's lines.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., Nov. 9, 1864.

To the Senate and House of Representatives.

I herewith transmit a communication from the Secretary of War, covering copies of several reports of military operations during the present year, and renew my suggestion that all such papers are submitted for the information of Congress, and that it is not considered advisable to publish them at this time.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., November 11, 1864.

To the Senate and House of Representatives.

I herewith transmit for your information a communication from the Secretary of War, covering copies of the reports of Major General N. B. Forrest, relative to the battle of Tishomingo Creek, and of Captain B. L. Farinholt, relative to the engagement of the enemy with the reserve forces at Staunton River Bridge.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., November 11, 1864.

To the House of Representatives.

In response to your resolution of the 14th June last, I herewith transmit communications from the Secretaries of the Treasury and of War, conveying the information desired, relative to the tax in kind and other taxes collected from the several States for the year 1863.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., November 15, 1864.

To the Senate and House of Representatives.

I herewith transmit for your consideration a communication from the Secretary of War, submitting an estimate for an additional appropriation,[1] to be employed for the purpose which he indicates.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., November 15, 1864.

To the Senate and House of Representatives.

I herewith transmit for your information a communication from the Secretary of War, covering a copy of the report by General G. T. Beauregard of operations on Morris Island during the months of July, August, and September, 1863.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., Nov. 15, 1864.

To the Senate and House of Representatives.

I herewith transmit for your information, in secret session, a communication from the Secretary of State, submitting copies of the correspondence with our commissioners abroad, referred to in my message of the 7th inst.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., November 21, 1864.

To the House of Representatives.

In response to your resolution of the 8th instant, I herewith transmit a communication from the Secretary of War, which conveys the information requested relative to the act of June 14, 1864, to "provide and organize a general staff."

The seventh section of the act invests the Executive with the discretion which has been exercised. The eighth section, by restricting appointments, indicates the course which has been pursued in the attempt to ascertain with accuracy the number of officers in the several staff corps, so as to distribute them in accordance with the order from the Adjutant General's office, a copy of which is annexed, as well as to ascertain whether there are not supernumerary staff officers now in commission who should be discharged.

Jefferson Davis


Richmond, Va., Nov. 21, 1864.

To the Senate of the Confederate States.

I response to your resolution of the 17th instant, I herewith transmit a communication[2] from the Secretary of State, which conveys the information requested.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., November 21st, 1864.

To the House of Representatives.

In response to your resolution of the 9th inst., I herewith transmit communications from the Secretaries of the Treasury and of War, covering copies of all orders now in force which have been issued to the assessors and collectors of taxes.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., November 24, 1864.

To the House of Representatives.

In response to your resolution of the 8th instant, I herewith transmit a communication from the Secretary of War, relative to the special exchange of prisoners of war by the Commissioner of Exchange.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., November 24th, 1864.

To the House of Representatives.

In response to your resolution of the 19th inst., I herewith transmit a communication from the Secretary of War, relative to the recent impressment of slaves by his order in the State of Virginia.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., Nov. 24, 1864.

To the Senate of the Confederate States.

In response to your resolution of the 14th instant, adopted in secret session, I herewith transmit a communication from the Secretary of War, which conveys the information requested relative to the enlistment into our Army of prisoners of war who have taken the oath of allegiance to the Confederate States.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, November 26, 1864.

To the Senate of the Confederate States.

In response to your resolution of the 17th instant, I herewith transmit for your information a communication from the Secretary of War relative to the number of persons in "each State exempted from military service upon the certificate of the Governors, respectively, that they are officers necessary for the proper administration of the government of said States."

Jeff'n Davis.


Richmond, Va., November 26, 1864.

To the Senate of the Confederate States.

In response to your resolution of the 9th instant, I herewith transmit a communication from the Secretary of War, which conveys the information requested relative to the number of persons exempted or detailed for certain specified purposes, so far as the records of the Department enable him to furnish it.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., Nov. 29, 1864.

To the Senate and House of Representatives.

I herewith transmit for your consideration a communication from the Secretary of the Treasury, covering estimates for additional appropriations required by the Navy Department.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., Dec. 6, 1864.

To the Senate of the Confederate States.

In response to your resolution of the 14th ult., adopted in secret session, I herewith transmit a communication from the Secretary of War, which conveys the information desired relative to the rations furnished to prisoners of war.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., Dec. 6, 1864.

To the House of Representatives.

In response to your resolution of the 23d ultimo, I herewith transmit a communication from the Secretary of War, which conveys the information requested relative to the arrangements which have been made "for the relief of our soldiers who are prisoners of war in the hands of the enemy."

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Dec. 6, 1864.

To the House of Representatives.

In response to your resolution of the 23d ultimo, I herewith transmit and invite your attention to a communication from the Secretary of War, relative to the "appointment under an act approved June 14, 1864, providing for the establishment and payment of claims for a certain description of property taken or informally impressed for the use of the Army."

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., Dec. 6, 1864.

To the House of Representatives.

In response to your resolution of the 23d ultimo, I herewith transmit communications from the Secretaries of the Treasury and of War, relative to the protection secured for the cotton under their control, belonging to the Confederate States, against exposure to the weather.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., December 6, 1864.

To the Senate and House of Representatives.

I herewith transmit for your information a communication from the Secretary of War, covering copies of several additional reports of military operations.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., Dec. 7, 1864.

To the Senate and House of Representatives.

I herewith transmit for your consideration a communication from the Secretary of War, covering an estimate "of funds required to meet our treaty obligations to the Indian Nations, for the period ending June 30th, 1865."

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., Dec. 7, 1864.

To the Senate and House of Representatives.[3]

I herewith transmit for your consideration a communication from the Secretary of War, covering [an estimate of funds] needed to meet [a deficiency in the appropriation to pay the officers and] employ[ees of the Department.]

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., Dec. 12, 1864.

To the Senate and House of Representatives.

I herewith transmit for your consideration a communication from the Secretary of the Treasury, showing the additional amount necessary to be appropriated to meet the estimated expenses of the Department of Justice, for the half year ending June 30, 1865.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., Dec. 12, 1864.

To the House of Representatives.

In response to your resolution of the 19th ult., I herewith transmit a communication from the Secretary of War, which conveys the information requested, so far as the records of his Department enable him to furnish it, and states the reasons which make it impracticable for him to reply more definitely as to the amount of money expended in payment of the Army of the Trans-Mississippi since the assignment of Gen. E. K. Smith to the command of the Department.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., Dec. 15, 1864.

To the Senate and House of Representatives.

I herewith transmit for your consideration a communication from the Secretary of War, relative to the increase of the amount to be appropriated for a purpose for which he has already submitted an estimate.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., Dec. 15, 1864.

To the Senate and House of Representatives.

I herewith transmit for your consideration a communication from the Secretary of the Treasury, relative to certain transfers of appropriations required in connection with the service of his Department.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., Dec. 15, 1864.

To the House of Representatives.

In response to your resolution of the 23d ult., I herewith transmit a communication from the Secretary of War, which conveys the information requested relative to the sale of cloth and clothing to officers of the armies in the field, under the act of February 17, 1864.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Virginia, December 15th, 1864.

To the Senate and House of Representatives.

I herewith transmit for your information a communication from the Secretary of State, covering further copies of his correspondence with our commissioners abroad, referred to in my message of the 7th inst.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, December 19, 1864.

To the House of Representatives.

In response to your resolution of the 19th ult., I herewith transmit for your information a communication from the Secretary of War, relative to contracts for supplies to be paid for in cotton in the Trans-Mississippi Department.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., December 19, 1864.

To the Senate and House of Representatives.

I herewith transmit a communication from the Secretary of the Treasury, relative to a further foreign loan, and recommend his proposition to your favorable consideration in secret session.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., December 19, 1864.

To the Senate of the Confederate States.

In response to your resolution of the 25th ult., I herewith transmit a communication from the Secretary of War, which conveys the information desired relative to trials and convictions under the act to punish drunkenness in the Army.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., December 20, 1864.

To the House of Representatives.

I herewith transmit the reports made by the Heads of the Treasury and War Departments, in response to your resolution of the 6th instant, making various inquiries relative to the subject embraced in the act of February 6, 1864, entitled "A bill to impose regulations upon the foreign commerce of the Confederate States to provide for the public defense."

The importance of this subject induces me to present, at some length, my views upon the policy of the law, and upon its effects as developed by experience.

The first section of the law (which was passed at the fourth session of the First Congress and was the expression of its matured judgment) prohibits the exportation of the principal products of the Confederate States, except under uniform regulations, and the reason for this prohibition is expressed in the preamble to be this: "That the condition of the contest demands that the Confederate States should call into requisition whatever resources of men and money they have for the support of their cause."

The fifth section of the law indicates that the purpose of Congress in granting power to allow or refuse permission to export the products of our country was to enforce a return, in whole or in part, of the value of the produce exported "in military or other supplies for the public service."

But a full understanding of the policy of your predecessors can be attained only by taking into consideration another act passed on the same day, and entitled "An Act to prohibit the importation of luxuries or of articles not necessary or of common use." This last-mentioned act actually prohibited during the pending war the importation of any articles not necessary for the defense and subsistence of the country; and among those excluded from importation were wines, spirits, jewelry, cigars, and all the finer fabrics of cotton, flax, wool, or silk, as well as all other merchandise serving only for the indulgence of luxurious habits.

In a word, the two acts were an exercise of the power to regulate commerce so as to make it subservient to the success of our struggle, by prohibiting the importation or exportation of merchandise or produce for any other purpose than national defense and necessary subsistence, until these vital objects should be placed beyond the reach of danger. The two laws form one common system, and they should be so regarded in considering the propriety of the repeal or modification of either.

When signing my approval of these acts I considered them as measures eminently wise and proper, and as well adapted to remedy existing evils. Complaints were rife throughout our country that its foreign commerce was almost exclusively in the hands of aliens; that our cotton, tobacco, and naval stores were being drained from the States, and that we were receiving in return cargoes of liquors, wines, and articles of luxury; that the imported goods, being held in few hands and in limited quantities, were sold at prices so exorbitant that the blockade runners, after purchasing fresh cargoes of cotton, still retained large sums of Confederate money, which they invested in gold for exportation and in foreign exchange, and that the whole course of the trade had a direct tendency to impoverish our country, demoralize our people, depreciate our currency, and enfeeble our defense. Congress believed these complaints well-founded, and in that belief I fully concurred. None doubted that a remedy was desirable, and your present inquiries seek information in relation to the efficiency of the remedy provided by the legislation then devised, as developed by actual experience.

My conviction is decided that the effect of the legislation has been salutary, that the evils existing prior to its adoption have been materially diminished, and that the repeal of the legislation or any modification impairing its efficiency would be calamitous. This opinion is shared by every Executive Department that has been intrusted with the execution of these laws and regulations, and thus enabled to form a judgment based on observation and experience.

The propriety and justice of a claim on the part of the Government that a share of all the vessels engaged in the blockade trade should be held subject to its use for the benefit of the whole people was so obvious that even before the legislation of Congress few owners refused to place at its disposal one-third of the tonnage, both outward and inward, for the importation of supplies and the exportation of the produce necessary to pay for them. On the passage of the laws it was deemed proper to increase the demand of the Government to one-half. This decision was based not only on the consideration that the Government was burdened with the entire expense of defending the ports of entry, but on the further reason that the enormous gains of the commerce were monopolized by foreigners, free to engage in commerce at their pleasure while our citizens were engrossed in the sacred duty of defending their homes and liberties, and therefore unable to compete for the trade. It was foreseen that this increase would be resisted, and in a message[4] on the subject, addressed by me to the House of Representatives on the 10th of June last, it was stated that—

For some weeks after the adoption of these regulations strenuous efforts were made by parties interested in the business to induce a relaxation of the regulations. Many of the vessels remained unemployed on the allegation of the owners that the terms imposed by the regulations were so onerous as to render impossible the continuance of the business. The regulations remained unchanged, for I was satisfied from an examination of the subject that this complaint was unfounded and that the withdrawal of the vessels was an experiment, by a combination among their owners, on the firmness of the Government. The result proved the correctness of this view, for after various attempts to obtain increased advantages the vessels resumed their voyages. Their number has been largely increased. The ability to export produce and import supplies on Government account has been developed to a greater extent than had been anticipated, and the credit of the Government has been so improved in foreign markets that the quotations for its loan have rapidly advanced.

In the same message it was also stated that —

Among the efforts made to induce a change of the regulations was a warning given to officers of the Government that the owners of vessels could make better bargains with the Governors of States than with the Confederate Government, and that if the regulations were not relaxed in their favor they would transfer their vessels to the Executives of the several States, and thus withdraw them from the operation of the regulations.

Reverting now to the precise inquiries contained in your resolution, I answer:

First. That no restriction whatever has been placed on the exercise of the right of any Confederate State to export on its own account any of the articles enumerated in the act entitled "An Act to impose regulations," &c., approved 6th of February, 1864.

Each State not only exports whatever it pleases, but the obligation imposed on private individuals to bring back into the country necessary supplies equal in value to one-half of the produce exported is not extended to the States. They are in these respects on a footing of absolute equality with the Confederate Government.

I am aware that complaints have been made of the effect of these regulations by the Governors of some of the States, but their objections are, in my judgment, without foundation.

It is not denied by any of them that when a State purchases a vessel it is left under the exclusive control of the State authorities, and that the Confederate Government claims no share of the outward or inward tonnage. It is also admitted that when the States purchase or charter any part of a vessel, not exceeding one-half, the Confederate States Government does not interfere with their enjoyment of the portion so purchased or chartered, and confines itself to exacting from the private owner the use of that half not conveyed to the State; but the complaint is that the Confederate Government will not further consent to yield, for the benefit of a single State, any part of that moiety of the tonnage of each vessel which it has secured under the regulations for the common use and benefit of all the States of which it is agent.

By the regulations, as now existing, half the tonnage of all the vessels engaged in the trade has been conveyed to the use of the Confederacy. Why should a single State be allowed to take for its separate use from the Confederacy any part of this half? Is it not enough that the remaining half is left open for purchase or charter by the State?

It is plain that a State and the owner of a vessel can have no motive for contracting in such manner as to diminish the tonnage claimed by the Confederacy, unless for a profit that is to be shared by both. Any concession, therefore, made on this point is in effect the loss of an interest which is the common property of all the States for the joint gain of a single State and of a private capitalist.

Again, the Army in the field is the Army of the Confederacy, which is charged with the duty of supplying it with clothing, subsistence, and munitions of war. The performance of this duty demands the most strenuous exertions and the command of all the resources that can be reached. Any diminution of our command of those resources by a modification of the existing legislation might lead to disastrous consequences. Under our present arrangements we are barely able to supply to our brave defenders a moderate share of those comforts which are indispensable to their efficiency. As long as privations are endured by all alike, there is a noble and patriotic emulation in the display of cheerful fortitude in enduring them. But if the common supply now distributed among all is diminished for the purpose of enabling any one State to add to the supplies furnished her own troops, the effect will be pernicious to an extent that can scarcely be appreciated in advance. I leave it to others to imagine the state of feeling which would ensue if the soldiers of the seaboard States were to be found amply supplied with all necessaries and comforts, standing side by side with the troops of interior States, who would be deprived of a part of what they now receive in consequence of a diminution of our present means of providing for all alike. If to this it should be answered that the interior States could enjoy the same advantages as the seaboard States by sending agents to the ports to represent them, thus placing all on an equal footing, the reply is obvious. The result would then be to bring all the States back to the same condition in which they now are — that is to say, each possessing its fair share of the advantages derived from the tonnage used by the Confederate Government.

It appears to me that any change in the present regulations so as to affect the rights of the Confederate Government must necessarily be either useless or mischievous — useless, if no advantage is to be gained by any one State over the others; mischievous in the extreme, if such an advantage is to be the effect of the change.

It has been suggested that there are many articles required by the people of the different States which can be obtained only through the aid of their governments, and that the efforts of the Confederate Government are confined exclusively to the supply of the needs of the Army. This is true; but one-half of all the tonnage of private owners remains open to employment by the States for the purpose suggested, though, perhaps, at somewhat greater cost than would be charged if they were permitted to use the portion reserved for the Confederacy. But I repeat that there is no justice apparent in the demand that all the States should sacrifice a common right for the profit of a single State, nor in diminishing the necessary comforts of the soldier for the benefit of those who remain at home. It is also competent for each State to purchase vessels for its own use or to purchase shares in common with one or more other States for the introduction of supplies necessary for the people without encroaching on the means used by the Confederacy for supplying the Army.

Second. Upon the second question, whether the regulations have caused any diminution in the number of vessels engaged in foreign commerce, the report of the Secretary of the Treasury gives such information as satisfactorily establishes the reverse to be the case.

In addition to the statements made by him, derived from official returns, the Secretary of War reports that many new steamers are understood to be on the way to engage in the trade, notwithstanding the impression which prevails that the stringency of the blockade is constantly increasing.

The number of vessels which arrived at two ports of the Confederacy between the 1st of November and 6th of December was forty-three, averaging more than one per day, and indicating no check in the trade. A further and conclusive proof that the profits of this commerce under present regulations are sufficiently tempting to secure its increase, is afforded by the fact that the shares of the companies engaged in it have greatly advanced in value. The shares of one company, originally of $1,000 each, were selling in July last for $20,000 each, and now command $30,000. Those of another company have increased in the same period from $2,500 to $6,000; and all exhibit a large advance.

Third. Your third inquiry seeks information whether the legislation and regulations have been beneficial or otherwise in their effect on the success of our arms and the supply of means necessary to the public defense.

My opinion has already been indicated on this point, and the reports of the Secretaries are decided in the expression of their own convictions of the wisdom of the laws, and the beneficial effects produced by them, in connection with the regulations established for giving them effect.

These laws and regulations have enabled the Government not only to provide supplies to a much greater extent than formerly, and to furnish the means for meeting the installments on its foreign loan, but to put an end to a wasteful and ruinous contract system, by which supplies were obtained before Congress determined to exercise control over the imports and exports.

Instead of being compelled to give contractors a large profit on the cost of their supplies, and to make payment in cotton in our ports at 6 pence per pound, we now purchase supplies abroad by our agents at cost in the foreign market, and pay there in cotton, which sells at a net price of 24 pence per pound. When all the elements of calculation are taken into consideration, it is by no means an exaggeration to say that 100 bales of cotton exported by the Government will purchase abroad the same amount and value of supplies that 600 bales would purchase delivered to contractors in the Confederacy. A reference to the report of the Secretary of the Treasury shows that of 11,796 bales of cotton shipped since 1st of July last, but 1,272 were lost; not quite 11 per cent. If this be taken as a fair average, and it is believed to be so, out of 600 bales of cotton exported, 534 would arrive abroad and yield, at £40 per bale, £21,360, while the same 600 bales delivered on payment at a home port, at 6 pence per pound, would yield less than £6,000.

There are other advantages derived from buying abroad, rather than contracting with blockade runners, of no small magnitude, but the foregoing statement will show the enormous profits that were made by them when the Government was forced to contract instead of purchasing for itself, and will suggest a motive for the strenuous efforts they have not ceased to make to get rid of the regulations and procure a change in the policy of the Government. It is to the law and regulations that the Government owes its ability to command freight room, and then buy and sell for itself instead of being forced to make contracts so extravagant as those above described. It requires little sagacity to perceive that with temptation so great the owners of vessels would spare no pains to obtain contracts from the several States, if allowed to do so by law, with the view of again withdrawing from our use as far as possible the tonnage of their vessels, and thus compelling a return to the ruinous contract system.

The reports of the Secretaries will fully inform you of the quantity and nature of the supplies obtained by the Government under the present system, and their importance to the national defense will be perceived at a glance.

Fourth. To the fourth inquiry, whether experience has suggested the necessity of the repeal of said act, or any modification or amendment of its provisions, the foregoing remarks would seem to furnish a sufficient answer. But I conclude, by renewing the expression of my conviction that the result of any legislation checking or diminishing the control now exercised by the Government over our foreign commerce would be injurious to the public interest and would insure the renewal in aggravated form of the evils which it was the purpose of your predecessors to remedy by the laws now in force.

Jefferson Davis.

[A similar message was communicated to the Senate under date of December 17, 1864, in response to its resolution of December 5, 1864.]


To the House of Representatives of the Confederate States of America.

When the act to regulate the pay and mileage of members and the compensation of officers of the Senate and House of Representatives was transmitted to me I found, upon examination of its provisions, some features inconsistent with the law for the organization of the Treasury Department, and the general policy of protecting the Treasury by checks and balances, so as to restrain officials by the records of the Department itself.

I did not, however, feel constrained to return the bill with objections, believing that every desirable end could be obtained by bringing the matter to your attention and recommending amendatory legislation. It was therefore signed on the 24th instant.

I invite you to a special examination of the clause by which the depositaries of the Treasury are directed to honor and pay drafts on the Treasury by members of Congress.

For a fuller exposition of the departure which that provision makes from the wise rules and regulations established by law for the protection of the Treasury, I refer you to the annexed letter of the Secretary of the Treasury.

Jefferson Davis.

Richmond, Virginia, December 28, 1864.


Richmond, Va., Jan. 4, 1865.

To the Senate and House of Representatives.

I herewith transmit for your consideration a communication from the Secretary of War, covering an estimate for an additional appropriation[5] required by the Engineer Bureau.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., Jan. 4, 1865.

To the Senate of the Confederate States.

In response to your resolution of November 14th, 1864, I herewith transmit for your information a communication from the Secretary of War, covering a copy of the official report of General J. E. Johnston, relative to operations of the Army of Tennessee.

I invite your attention to the Secretary's remarks in reference to the delay which has occurred in responding to your resolution, and concur with him in suggesting that it is not advisable to publish this communication at present, or at a future time, without the correspondence which was contemporaneous, and which explains the events.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., Jan. 4, 1865.

To the House of Representatives.

In response to your resolution of the 23d ult., I herewith transmit for your information a communication from the Secretary of the Navy, relative to "a flour and grist mill and bakery," established by the Department, at Albany, Georgia.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., January 5, 1865.

To the House of Representatives.

In response to your resolution of the 2d ultimo, relative to the impressment of slaves, I herewith transmit a communication from the Secretary of War, which conveys all the information I have on the subject.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., Jan. 5, 1865.

To the House of Representatives.

In response to your resolution of the 25th November last, I herewith transmit communications, which furnish the information desired relative to the "commissioned officers attached to and employed in the different Departments and Bureaus in the city of Richmond."

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., Jan. 5, 1865.

To the House of Representatives.

In response to your resolution of the 30th ult., I herewith transmit a communication from the Secretary of the Navy, which conveys the information that "no coals were taken from the steamer 'Advance,' in October last, or at any other time, for the naval service."

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Jan. 5, 1865.

To the Senate and House of Representatives.

I herewith transmit for your consideration a communication from the Secretary of the Treasury, covering estimates of additional appropriations required for the service of the Agency of the Department west of the Mississippi River.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Jan. 6, 1865.

To the Senate and House of Representatives.

I herewith transmit for your consideration a communication from the Secretary of War, covering an estimate for an additional appropriation required by the Bureau of Engineers.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., Jan. 6, 1865.

To the House of Representatives.

In response to your resolution of the 19th November last, I herewith transmit a communication from the Secretary of War, which conveys the information desired, relative to the impressment of brandy, so far as the records of his office enable him to furnish it.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., Jan. 6, 1865.

To the House of Representatives.

In response to your resolution of the 24th ult., relative to unpaid requisitions upon the Treasury, drawn by the Quartermaster General and the Commissary General, I herewith transmit a communication from the Secretary of the Treasury, which conveys the information desired.

Jefferson Davis.


Executive Department, January 13, 1865.

To the House of Representatives, C. S. A.

I have just received the accompanying report from the Secretary of War stating that Henry S. Foote, a member of the House of Representatives from the State of Tennessee, has been arrested by a military officer in northern Virginia while endeavoring to pass our lines on his way to the enemy's country. As this arrest may involve a question of privilege, I submit the matter to you, in order that such disposal of the case may be made as to you shall seem proper.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., January 14, 1865.

To the House of Representatives.

In response to your resolution of the 8th of November, 1864, I herewith transmit for your information a communication from Hon. Howell Cobb, who was President of the Provisional Congress, relative to the preparation of copies of the journals of that body, and of the proceedings of the Convention which framed the Provisional and Permanent Constitutions of the Confederate States. And I invite your attention to the suggestions he makes in reference to funds to be expended in the further prosecution of the work.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., Jan. 14, 1865.

To the House of Representatives.

In response to your resolution of the 24 ultimo, I herewith transmit for your information a communication from the Secretary of War, relative to the passports which have been issued to certain youths to leave the Confederate States.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., Jan. 20, 1865.

To the House of Representatives.

In response to your resolution of the 30th ult., I herewith transmit communications from the Secretaries of the Treasury and of War, and from the Postmaster General, which convey the information called for in relation to the means employed to communicate with the Trans-Mississippi Department.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., Jan. 20, 1865.

To the Senate and House of Representatives.

I herewith transmit for your consideration a communication from the Secretary of the Treasury, covering an estimate for an additional appropriation required for the public service.

Jefferson Davis.


Executive Office, Richmond, Va., January 24, 1865.

Gentlemen of the "Joint Committee on the State of the Country."

I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of resolutions adopted by the General Assembly of Virginia in relation to certain restrictions said to have been placed on the transportation of supplies of food to the cities of Richmond and Petersburg.

Upon investigation I find that no orders have emanated from the War Department or the provost marshal of Richmond of the character supposed in the resolution. I, however, learn that there may be an order of the character spoken of emanating from the lieutenant general commanding the Confederate forces on the north side of the James River, which, if so, will be ascertained at once, he having been furnished with a copy of the resolution and called upon for information touching the same.

I am, gentlemen, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., January 24, 1865.

To the House of Representatives.

In response to a resolution adopted by you on the 31st ult., I herewith transmit a communication from the Secretary of War, covering copies of his letters to Genl. E. Kirby Smith, relative to the general administration of the Trans-Mississippi Department.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., February 3, 1865.

To the House of Representatives.

In response to your resolution of the 25th ultimo, I herewith transmit a communication from the Secretary of the Navy, covering copies of his correspondence with the Governor of North Carolina relative to "coals of the steamer 'Advance.'"

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., Feb. 3, 1865.

To the Senate of the Confederate States.

In response to your resolution of the 19th ultimo, I herewith transmit a communication from the Secretary of War, which conveys the information desired, relative to "the number of persons in each State exempted from military service by reason of being claimed as State officers," and to "the number of exemptions and details for express, telegraphic, and railroad companies, etc.," and explains the causes of delay in replying to previous resolutions on those subjects.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., Feb. 3, 1865.

To the Senate and House of Representatives.

I herewith transmit for your consideration a communication from the Secretary of the Treasury, concerning an estimate for an additional appropriation required by the Navy Department.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., Feb. 3, 1865.

To the Senate and House of Representatives.

I herewith transmit for your consideration a communication from the Secretary of the Treasury, covering an estimate for an additional appropriation required to meet the expenses of the Department of Justice during the six months ending June 30, 1865.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., February 4th, 1865.

To the House of Representatives.

In response to your resolution of the 12th ult., I herewith transmit a communication from the Secretary of War, furnishing, as far as the records of his Department will enable him to do so, the information requested relative to the organization of the "Corps of Scouts" authorized to be created by the act of the last Congress to facilitate communication with the Trans-Mississippi Department.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., February 4, 1865.

To the Senate of the Confederate States.

In response to your resolution of November 28, 1864, I herewith transmit a communication from the Secretary of War, relative to the removal of the sick and wounded officers of the Army from the almshouse in this city, which was used as a hospital, and to the accommodations which have been provided for the patients elsewhere.

Jefferson Davis.


Executive Office, Richmond, February 6, 1865.

To the Senate and House of Representatives of the Confederate States of America.

Having recently received a written notification, which satisfied me that the President of the United States was disposed to confer informally with unofficial agents which might be sent by me with a view to the restoration of peace, I requested the Hon. Alexander H. Stephens, the Hon. R. M. T. Hunter, and the Hon. John A. Campbell to proceed through our lines, and to hold conference with Mr. Lincoln, or with any one he might depute to represent him.

I herewith transmit for the information of Congress the report of the eminent citizens above named, showing that the enemy refused to enter into negotiations with the Confederate States, or with any one of them separately, or to give to our people any other terms or guaranties than those which the conqueror may grant, or to permit us to have peace on any other basis than our unconditional submission to their rule, coupled with the acceptance of their recent legislation on the subject of the relations between the white and black populations of each State. Such is, as I understand it, the effect of the amendment to the Constitution which has been adopted by the Congress of the United States.

Jefferson Davis.

Richmond, Va., February 5, 1865.

To the President of the Confederate States.

Sir: Under your letter of appointment of the 28th ult., we proceeded to seek an "informal conference" with Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, upon the subject mentioned in the letter. The conference was granted, and took place on the 30th inst., on board of a steamer in Hampton Roads, where we met President Lincoln and the Hon. Mr. Seward, Secretary of State of the United States. It continued for several hours, and was both full and explicit.

We learned from them that the message of President Lincoln to the Congress of the United States, in December last, explains clearly and distinctly his sentiments as to the terms, conditions, and methods of proceeding, by which peace can be secured to the people, and we were not informed that they would be modified or altered to obtain that end. We understood from him that no terms or proposals of any treaty, or agreement, looking to an ultimate settlement, would be entertained or made by him with the Confederate States, because that would be a recognition of their existence as a separate power, which, under no circumstances, would be done; and for like reasons that no such terms would be entertained by him from the States separately; that no extended truce or armistice (as at present advised) would be granted, without a satisfactory assurance in advance of a complete restoration of the authority of the United States over all places within the States of the Confederacy.

That whatever consequence may follow from the reëstablishment of that authority must be accepted; but that individuals subject to pains and penalties under the laws of the United States might rely upon a very liberal use of the power confided to him to remit those pains and penalties if peace be restored.

During the conference, the proposed amendment to the Constitution of the United States, adopted by Congress on the 31st ult., was brought to our notice. This amendment declares that neither slavery nor involultary servitude, except for crimes, should exist within the United States, or any place within their jurisdiction, and that Congress should have power to enforce this amendment by appropriate legislation. Of all the correspondence that preceded the conference herein mentioned, and leading to the same, you have heretofore been informed.

Very respectfully, your obedient servants,

Alex. H. Stephens,
Robert M. T. Hunter,
John A. Campbell.


Message of President Lincoln on the Hampton Roads Conference, Including Correspondence.

Executive Mansion, Feb. 10, 1865.

To the Honorable House of Representatives.

In response to your resolution of the 8th inst., requesting information in relation to a conference held in Hampton Roads, I have the honor to state that on the date I gave Francis P. Blair, Senior, a card written as follows, to wit:

December 28, 1864.

Allow the bearer, F. P. Blair, Sr., to pass our lines, go South, and return.

A. Lincoln.


That at the time I was informed that Mr. Blair sought the card as a means of getting to Richmond, Va., but he was given no authority to speak or act for the Government. Nor was I informed of anything he would say or do on his own account or otherwise.

Mr. Blair told me that he had been to Richmond and had seen Mr. Jefferson Davis, and he (Mr. Blair) at the same time left with me a manuscript letter as follows, to wit:


Richmond, Va., January 12, 1865.

F. P. Blair, Esq.

Sir: I have deemed it proper and probably desirable to you to give you in this form the substance of the remarks made by me to be repeated by you to President Lincoln, etc. I have no disposition to find obstacles in forms, and am willing now, as heretofore, to enter into negotiations for the restoration of peace. I am ready to send a Commission whenever I have reason to suppose it will be received, or to receive a Commission if the United States Government shall choose to send one. Notwithstanding the rejection of our former offers, I would, if you could promise that a Commission, Minister, or other agent would be received, appoint one immediately, and renew the effort to enter into a conference with a view to secure peace to the two countries.

Yours, etc.,

Jefferson Davis.


Afterwards, with a view that it should be shown to Mr. Davis, I wrote and delivered to Mr. Blair a letter, as follows, to wit:


Washington, January 18, 1865.

F. P. Blair, Esq.

Sir: You having shown me Mr. Davis's letter to you of the 12th inst., you may say to him that I have constantly been, am now, and shall continue ready to receive any agent whom he, or any other influential person now resisting the national authority, may informally send me, with a view of securing peace to the people of our common country.

Yours, etc.,

A. Lincoln.


Afterwards Mr. Blair dictated for and authorized me to make an entry on the back of my retained copy of the letter just above recited which is as follows:


January 28, 1865.

To-day Mr. Blair tells me that on the 21st inst., he delivered to Mr. Davis the original, of which the within is a copy, and left it with him: that at the time of delivering Mr. Davis read it over twice in Mr. Blair's presence, at the close of which he (Mr. B.) remarked that the part about our common country related to the part of Mr. Davis's letter about the two countries, to which Mr. D. replied that he understood it.

A. Lincoln.


Afterwards the Secretary of War placed in my hands the following telegram, indorsed by him, as appears:


Office U. S. Military Telegraph, War Department.

(Cipher.) The following telegram was received at Washington January 29, 1865:

From Headquarters Army of the James,
6:30 p.m.,
January 29, 1865.

To Hon. E. M. Stanton, Secretary of War.

The following dispatch is just received from Major General Parke, who refers it to me for my action. I refer it to you in lieu of General Grant — absent.

E. O. C. Ord, Major General Comdg.


Headquarters Army of the James.

The following dispatch is forwarded to you for your action. Since I have no knowledge of General Grant's having had any understanding of this kind, I refer this matter to you as the ranking officer present in the two armies.

John G. Parke, Major General Comdg.


From Headquarters Ninth Army Corps,
January 29, 1865.

Major General John G. Parke, Headquarters Army of the Potomac.

Alexander H. Stephens, R. M. T. Hunter, and J. A. Campbell desire to cross my lines, in accordance with an understanding claimed to exist with Lieutenant General Grant, on their way to Washington as Peace Commissioners. Shall they be admitted? They desire an early answer, so as to come through immediately. They would like to reach City Point to-night if they can. If they cannot do this, they would like to come through to-morrow morning.

O. B. Willcox, Major Commanding Ninth Corps.


Respectfully referred to the President for such instructions as he may be pleased to give.

Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War.

January 29, 1865, 6:30 P.M.


It appears that about the time of placing the foregoing telegram in my hands, the Secretary of War dispatched to General Ord as follows, to wit:


War Department, Washington City,
Jan. 29, 1865, 10 p.m.

Major General Ord.

This Department has no knowledge of any understanding by Gen. Grant to allow any person to come within his lines as Commissioners of any sort. You will therefore allow no one to come into your lines under such character or profession until you receive the President's instructions, to whom your telegrams will be submitted for his directions.

Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War.

(Sent in cipher at 2 a.m.)


Afterwards, by my directions, the Secretary of War telegraphed Gen. Ord as follows, to wit:


War Department, Washington, D. C,
Jan. 30, 1865, 10 a.m.

Major General E. O. C. Ord, Headquarters Army of the James.

By the direction of the President you are instructed to inform the three gentlemen, Messrs. Stephens, Hunter, and Campbell, that a message will be dispatched to them at or near where they now are without unnecessary delay.

Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War.


Afterwards I prepared and put into the hands of Major Thomas T. Eckert the following instructions:


Executive Mansion, Washington,
Jan. 30, 1865.

Major T. T. Eckert.

Sir: You will proceed with the documents placed in your hands, and on reaching General Ord will deliver him the letter addressed him by the Secretary of War. Then, by General Ord's assistance, procure an interview with Messrs. Stephens, Hunter, and Campbell, or any of them, deliver to him or them the paper on which your own letter is written. Note on the copy which you retain the time of delivery and to whom delivered. Receive their answer in writing, waiting a reasonable time for it, and which, if it contain their decision to come through without further conditions, will be your warrant to ask General Ord to pass them through as directed in the letter of the Secretary of War. If by their answer they decline to come, or propose other terms, do not have them pass through. And this being your whole duty return and report to me.

Yours truly,

A. Lincoln.


City Point, Feb. 1, 1865.

Messrs. Alexander H. Stephens, J. A. Campbell, and R. M. T. Hunter.

Gentlemen: I am instructed by the President of the United States to place this paper in your hands with the information that if you pass through the United States military lines, it will be understood that you do so for the purpose of an informal conference on the basis of that letter, a copy of which is on the reverse side of this sheet; and that you choose to pass on such understanding, and so notify me in writing. I will procure the Commanding General to pass you through the lines and to Fortress Monroe under such military precautions as he may deem prudent, and at which place you will be met in due time by some person or persons for the purpose of such informal conference; and further, that you shall have protection, safe conduct, and safe return in all events.

Thomas T. Eckert, Major and Aid-de-Camp.


Afterwards, but before Major Eckert had departed, the following dispatch was received from General Grant:


Office U. S. Military Telegraph, War Department.

(Cipher)

The following telegram was received at Washington. Jan. 31. 1865, from City Point, Va., 10:30 a.m., Jan. 31, 1865:


His Excellency Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States.

The following commmunication was received here last evening:


Petersburg, Va., Jan. 30, 1865.

Lieut. Gen. U. S. Grant, Commanding Armies of the United States.

Sir: We desire to pass your lines under safe conduct, and to proceed to Washington to hold a conference with President Lincoln upon the subject of the existing war, and with a view of ascertaining upon what terms it may be terminated, in pursuance of the course indicated by him in his letter to Mr. Blair of Jan. 18, 1865, of which we presume you have a copy, and if not, we wish to see you in person, if convenient, and to confer with you on the subject.

Very respectfully yours,

Alexander H. Stephens,
J. A. Campbell,
R. M. T. Hunter.


I have sent directions to receive these gentlemen, and expect to have them at my quarters this evening awaiting your instructions.

U. S. Grant, Lieut. General,
Commanding Armies of the United States.


This, it will be perceived, transferred General Ord's agency in the matter to General Grant. I resolved, however, to send Major Eckert forward with his message, and accordingly telegraphed General Grant as follows, to wit:


Executive Mansion, Washington,
Jan. 31, 1865.

Lieut. Gen. Grant, City Point, Va.

A messenger is coming to you on the business contained in your dispatch. Detain the gentlemen in comfortable quarters until he arrives, and then act upon the message he brings as far as applicable, it having been made up to pass through Gen. Ord's hands, and when the gentlemen were supposed to be beyond our lines.

(Sent in cipher at 1:30 p.m.)

A. Lincoln.


When Major Eckert departed, he bore with him a letter of the Secretary of War to General Grant as follows, to wit:


War Department, Washington, D. C.,
Jan. 30, 1865.

Lieut. General Grant, Commanding, etc.

General: The President desires that you procure for the bearer, Major Thomas T. Eckert, an interview with Messrs. Stephens, Hunter, and Campbell, and if, on his return to you, he requests it, pass them through our lines to Fortress Monroe by such route and under such military precautions as you may deem prudent, giving them protection and comfortable quarters while there, and that you let none of this have any effect upon any of your movements or plans.

By order of the President.

Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War.


Supposing the proper point to be then reached, I dispatched the Secretary of State with the following instructions, Major Eckert, however, going ahead of him:


Executive Mansion, Jan. 31, 1865.

Hon. Wm. H. Seward, Secretary of State.

You will proceed to Fortress Monroe, Va., there to meet and informally confer with Messrs. Stephens, Hunter, and Campbell on the basis of my letter to F. P. Blair, Esq., of Jan. 18, 1865, a copy which you have. You will make known to them that three things are indispensable, to wit: 1st, the restoration of the national authority throughout all the States; 2d, no receding by the Executive of the United States on the slavery question from the position assumed thereon in the late annual message to Congress, and in the preceding documents; 3d, no cessation of hostilities short of an end of the war and the disbanding of all the forces hostile to the Government. You will inform them that all propositions of theirs not inconsistent with the above will be considered and passed upon in a spirit of sincere liberality. You will hear all they may choose to say and report it to me. You will not assume to definitely consummate anything.

Yours, etc.,

Abraham Lincoln.


On the day of its date the following telegram was sent to General Grant:


War Department, Washington,
Feb. 1, 1865.

Lieut. Gen. Grant, City Point, Va.

Let nothing which is transpiring change, hinder, or delay your military movements or plans.

(Sent in cipher at 9:30 a.m.)

A. Lincoln.


Afterwards the following dispatch was received from General Grant:


Office U. S. Telegraph, War Department.

(In cipher.)

The following telegram was received at Washington at 2:30 p.m., Feb. 1, 1865, from City Point, Va., Feb. 1, 12:30 p.m., 1865:


His Excellency Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States.

Your dispatch is received. There will be no armistice in consequence of the presence of Mr. Stephens and others within our lines. The troops are kept in readiness to move at the shortest notice if occasion should justify it.

U. S. Grant, Lieut. Gen.


To notify Major Eckert that the Secretary of State would be at Fortress Monroe and to put them in communication, the following dispatch was sent:


War Department, Washington,
Feb. 1, 1865.

T. T. Eckert, care Gen. Grant, City Point, Va.

Call at Fortress Monroe and put yourself under the direction of Mr. S., whom you will find there.

A. Lincoln.


On the morning of the 2d inst. the following telegrams were received by me from the Secretary of State and Major Eckert:


Fortress Monroe, Va., 11:30 p.m.,
Feb. 1, 1865.

The President of the United States.

Arrived here this evening. Richmond party not here. I remain here.

Wm. H. Seward.


City Point, Va., 10 p.m.,
Feb. 1, 1865.

His Excellency A. Lincoln, President of the United States.

I have the honor to report the delivery of your communication and my letter at 4:15 this afternoon, to which I received a reply at 6 p.m., but not satisfactory. At 8 p.m. the following note, addressed to Gen. Grant, was received:


City Point, Feb 1, 1865.

To Lieut. Gen. Grant.

Sir: We desire to go to Washington City to confer informally with the President personally, in reference to the matters mentioned in his letter to Mr. Blair of the 18th of January, ult., without any personal compromise on any question in the letter. We have the permission to do so from the authorities in Richmond.

Very respectfully yours,

Alexander H. Stephens,
R. M. T. Hunter,
J. A. Campbell.


At 9:30 p.m. I notified them that they could not proceed farther unless they complied with the terms expressed in my letter. The point of meeting designated in the above would not, in my opinion, be insisted upon. I think Fortress Monroe would be acceptable. Having complied with my instructions, will return to Washington to-morrow, unless otherwise ordered.

Thomas T. Eckert, Major, etc.


On reading this dispatch of Major Eckert's, I was about to recall him and the Secretary of State, when the following telegram of General Grant to the Secretary of War was shown me:


Office U. S. Military Telegraph, War Department.

(In cipher.)

The following telegram was received at Washington at 4:35 a.m., Feb. 2, 1865, from City Point, Va., Feb. 1, 1865:

To Hon. E. M. Stanton, Secretary of War.

Now that the interview between Major Eckert, under his written instructions, and Mr. Stephens and party, has ended, I will state confidentially, but not officially, to become a matter of record, that I am convinced, upon conversation with Messrs. Stephens and Hunter, that their intentions are good and their desire sincere to restore peace and Union. I have not felt myself at liberty to express even views of my own, or to account for my reticence. This has placed me in an awkward position, which I could have avoided by not seeing them in the first instance. I fear now their going back without any expression from any one in authority will have a bad influence. At the same time I recognize the difficulties in the way of receiving these informal Commissioners at this time, and I do not know what to recommend. I am sorry, however, that Mr. Lincoln cannot have an interview with the two named in this dispatch, if not all three now within our lines. Their letter to me was all that the President's instructions contemplated to secure their safe conduct, if they had used the same language to Capt. Eckert.

U. S. Grant, Lieut. General.


This dispatch of General Grant changed my purpose, and accordingly I telegraphed him and the Secretary of War as follows:


War Department, Washington,
Feb. 2, 1865.

To Lieut. General Grant, City Point, Va.

Say to the gentlemen that I will meet them personally at Fortress Monroe as soon as I can get there.

(Sent in cipher at 9 a.m.)

A. Lincoln.


War Department, Washington, D. C.,
Feb. 2, 1865.

To Hon. Wm. H. Seward, Fortress Monroe, Va.

Induced by a dispatch from General Grant, I join you at Fortress Monroe as soon as I can come.

(Sent in cipher at 9 a.m.)

A. Lincoln.


Before starting, the following dispatch was shown me. I proceeded, nevertheless:


Office U. S. Military Telegraph, War Department.

(In cipher.)

The following telegram was received at Washington, Feb. 2, 1865, from City Point, Va., 9 a.m., Feb. 2, 1865:


To Hon. W. H. Seward, Sec'y of State, Fortress Monroe.

[Copy to Hon. E. M. Stanton, Secretary of War.]

The gentlemen here have accepted the proposed terms and will leave for Fortress Monroe at 9:30 a.m.

U. S. Grant, Lieut. Gen.


On the night of the 2d I reached Hampton Roads, and found the Secretary of State and Major Eckert in a steamer anchored off the shore, and learned of them that the Richmond gentlemen were in another steamer, also anchored off shore in the Roads, and that the Secretary of State had not yet seen or communicated with them. I ascertained that Major Eckert had literally complied with his instructions, and I saw for the first time the answer of the Richmond gentlemen to him, which, in his dispatch to me of the 1st, characterized as not satisfactory. That answer is as follows, to wit:


City Point, Va., Feb. 1, 1865.

To Thos. T. Eckert, Major and Aid-de-Camp.

Major: Your note delivered by yourself this day has been considered. In reply, we have to say that we were furnished with a copy of the letter of President Lincoln to F. P. Blair, of the 18th of January, ult. Another copy of which is appended to your note. Our intentions are contained in the letter, of which the following is a copy:


Richmond, January 28, 1865.

In conformity with the letter of Air. Lincoln, of which the foregoing is a copy, you are to proceed to Wishington City for an informal conference with him upon the issues involved in the existing war, and for the purpose of securing peace to the two countries.

With great respect, your obedient servant,

Jefferson Davis.


The substantial object to be attained by the informal conference is to ascertain upon what terms the existing war can be terminated honorably. Our instructions contemplate a personal interview between President Lincoln and ourselves at Washington; but, with this explanation, we are ready to meet any person or persons that President Lincoln may appoint, at such place as he may designate. Our earnest desire is that a just and honorable peace may be agreed upon, and we are prepared to receive or to submit propositions which may possibly lead to the attainment of that end.

Very respectfully yours,

Alex. H. Stephens,
Robert M. T. Hunter,
John A. Campbell.


A note of these gentlemen, subsequently addressed to General Grant, has already been given in Major Eckert's dispatch of the 1st inst. I also saw here for the first time the following note addressed by the Richmond gentlemen to Major Eckert:


City Point, Va., February 2, 1865.

Thomas T. Eckert, Major and A. D. C.

Major: In reply to your verbal statement that your instructions did not allow you to alter the conditions upon which a passport would be given to us, we say that we are willing to proceed to Fortress Monroe, and there to have an informal conference with any person or persons that President Lincoln may appoint, on the basis of his letter to Francis P. Blair of the 18th of January, ultimo, or upon any other terms or conditions that he may hereafter propose not inconsistent with the essential principles of self-government and popular rights, upon which our institutions are founded. It is our earnest wish to ascertain, after a free interchange of ideas and information, upon what principles and terms, if any, a just and honorable peace can be established without the further effusion of blood, and to contribute our utmost efforts to accomplish such a result. We think it better to add that in accepting your passport we are not to be understood as committing ourselves to anything, but to carry on this informal conference with the views and feelings above expressed.

Very respectfully yours, etc.,

Alex. H. Stephens,
R. M. T. Hunter,
J. A. Campbell.


[Note. The above communication was delivered to me at Fortress Monroe at 4:30 p.m., Feb. 2, by Lieut. Col. Babcock, of Gen. Grant's Staff.

Thos. T. Eckert. Major and A. D. C.]


On the morning of the 3d the gentlemen, Messrs. Stephens, Hunter, and Campbell, came aboard of our steamer and had an interview with the Secretary of State and myself of several hours' duration. No question of preliminaries to the meeting was then and there made or mentioned. No other person was present. No papers were exchanged or produced, and it was in advance agreed that the conversation was to be informal and verbal merely. On my part the whole substance of the instructions to the Secretary of State, hereinbefore recited, was stated and insisted upon, and nothing was said inconsistent therewith, while, by the other party, it was not said that in any event or on any condition they ever would consent to reunion; and yet they equally omitted to declare that they would never so consent. They seemed to desire a postponement of that question and the adoption of some other course first, which, as some of them seemed to argue, might or might not lead to reunion, but which course we thought would amount to an indefinite postponement.

The conference ended without result.

The foregoing, containing, as is believed, all the information sought, is respectfully submitted.

Abraham Lincoln.


Richmond, Va., February 6th, 1865.

To the House of Representatives.

In response to your resolution of the 13th December last, I herewith transmit for your information a communication from the Secretary of War, relative to the "Cotton Bureau," established in the State of Texas, and covering copies of all documents on the subject on file in his office, and of his correspondence with the General commanding the Trans-Mississippi Department, in reference to the use of cotton as a means of procuring supplies for the Army.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., Feb. 8, 1865.

To the House of Representatives.

In response to your resolution of the 25th ult., I herewith transmit a communication from the Secretary of War, covering a list of the quartermasters and assistant quartermasters now in the service and indicating the rank of each officer and the duty on which he is employed.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., Feb. 8, 1865.

To the House of Representatives.

In response to your resolution of the 31st December last, I herewith transmit for your information a communication from the Secretary of War, covering copies of "the reports of Generals Taylor, Price, and Magruder, with the report of General Smith appended, of their military operations in the Trans-Mississippi Department during the last eighteen months."

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., February 8th, 1865.

To the House of Representatives.

In response to your resolution of the 11th ult., I herewith transmit a communication from the Postmaster General, which conveys the information requested relative to the number of persons exempted as contractors to carry the mails on routes less than fifty miles in length, so far as the records of his office enable him to furnish it.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., Feb. 10, 1865.

To the Senate and House of Representatives.

I herewith transmit for your consideration a communication from the Secretary of the Treasury, covering an estimate for an additional appropriation required by the Navy Department.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., Feb. 15, 1865.

To the Senate of the Confederate States.

In partial response to your resolution of the 24th ultimo, I herewith transmit communications from the Secretary of the Navy and the Postmaster General, relative to the number of white men between the ages of 18 and 45, and of negroes, whose services are necessary to their respective Departments.

The Secretary of War has been called on to furnish reports on this subject from the several bureaus specified in your resolution, which will be transmitted when received.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., Feb. 15, 1865.

To the House of Representatives.

In further response to your resolution of the 25th ultimo, I herewith transmit for your information a communication from the Secretary of the Navy, covering copies of the remainder of his correspondence with the Governor of North Carolina, relative to coal belonging to the steamer "Advance."

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., Feb. 15, 1865.

To the House of Representatives.

In response to your resolution of 24th December last, I herewith transmit a communication from the Secretary of War, which conveys the information requested, relative to the number of iron furnaces and forges worked by agents of the Government or by contractors during the year 1864, and to the cost per ton of the several kinds of iron furnished by them.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., Feb. 15, 1865.

To the Senate and House of Representatives.

I herewith transmit for your consideration a communication from the Secretary of the Treasury, covering an estimate for an additional appropriation required by the Department of Justice.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., February 20, 1865.

To the House of Representatives of the Confederate States of America.

I submit herewith to your honorable body a report from the Secretary of War, dated the 18th instant, exhibiting the condition to which the public service is now reduced by the want of means in the Treasury to furnish the supplies needful for the Army and for the public defense. The urgency for the passage of some revenue bill has now become so pressing as to threaten the gravest consequences. I am fully aware of the embarrassments which have retarded the action of the House in the performance of its exclusive constitutional function of originating a bill for raising revenue, and that the great diversity of opinion which must exist on so complex and difficult a subject has prevented the adoption of measures recommended by the Committee of Ways and Means of the House, as well as those recommended by the Secretary of the Treasury. I would, however, respectfully suggest that our affairs are now in a position so critical that objections which under other circumstances would be regarded as insurmountable may well be waived in favor of any scheme of finance or taxation that will enable the Treasury promptly to meet our most pressing wants, and that immediate legislation, even if somewhat imperfect, is preferable to wiser measures if attended with delay.

In connection with this subject I would invoke your attention to the need of prompt action for adding to our strength in the field. Very few weeks now remain for preparation, and we are threatened by a concentration of forces around us which cannot be successfully resisted without the aid of large reinforcements to our armies.

It is with trust in your wisdom and patriotism that I obey the behest of the Constitution in placing before you this information of the state of the country, confident that you will need no further stimulus than the knowledge of these facts to induce such action as will avert the perils which now menace our country.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., Feb. 20, 1865.

To the House of Representatives.

In response to your resolution of the 6th instant, I herewith transmit a communication from the Secretary of War, which conveys all the information in my possession relative to the non-destruction of the cotton in the city of Savannah, before its evacuation by our military forces.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., Feb. 20, 1865.

To the Senate and House of Representatives.

I herewith transmit for your consideration a communication from the Secretary of War, covering an estimate for an additional appropriation required by the Department.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., February 20, 1865.

To the Senate of the Confederate States.

In further response to your resolution of the 24th ult., I herewith transmit a communication from the Secretary of War, relative to the number of white men between the ages of 18 and 45, and of negroes, who, in addition to their own officers, are required to carry on the operations of the Bureau of his Department to which your inquiries refer, and of the railroad companies of the country; and indicating the railroads which he considers most necessary for military purposes and of which the repairs or construction should be affected by appropriations by the Government. In connection with the latter subject he makes a suggestion to which I invite your special attention.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., February 21, 1865.

To the House of Representatives.

In response to your resolution of the 30th ultimo, I herewith transmit for your information a communication from the Secretary of War, relative to the accessions to the Army from each State since April 16, 1862; to the number of persons liable to conscription who have been exempted or detailed, and to the number of those between the ages of eighteen and forty-five, and not unfitted for active service in the field, who are employed in the several States in the manner indicated in your inquiry.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., February 22, 1865.

To the House of Representatives.

In response to your resolution of the 25th ultimo, I herewith transmit for your information a communication from the Secretary of War, relative to the number of able-bodied men between the ages of eighteen and forty-five "claimed to be exempt from conscription by the Governor, laws, and resolutions of the State of Georgia."

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., February 24th, 1865.

To the House of Representatives.

I herewith transmit for your information copies of the correspondence requested in your resolution of the 24th ult., as follows — to wit:

"Resolved, That the President be requested to communicate to this House, if not incompatible with the public interest, all the correspondence between himself and General Joseph E. Johnston touching the command and movements of the Army of Tennessee, and all the correspondence between himself and Generals Beauregard and Hood touching the command and movements of the same army since the removal of General Johnston from the command of it, and up to the retreat of it to the south side of the Tennessee River."

The correspondence of the Secretary of War and of the Adjutant General will be found combined according to dates.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., February 24th, 1865.

To the House of Representatives.

In response to your resolution of the 17th of May last, I herewith transmit for your information a copy of my own correspondence as well as that of the Secretary of War, and of the Adjutant and Inspector General, with Genl. Joseph E. Johnston, during the period indicated.

The resolution is in these words:

"Resolved, That the President be respectfully requested, in addition to the correspondence heretofore communicated to Congress between the President and Secretary of War and General Joseph E. Johnston in relation to the conduct of the war in the valley of the Mississippi, to communicate to Congress so much of said correspondence as has not as yet been called for by this House, commencing with a letter of November 24th, 1862, addressed by General Johnston to the Hon. Geo. W. Randolph, Secretary of War, and including General Johnston's reply to the letter of the President of July last, which closes the public correspondence."

To the copy of General Johnston's letters of August 8th and 20th, 1863, which is requested in the latter part of the resolution, has been added a copy of my reply, bearing date September 7th, 1863, and closing the correspondence to which it belongs; and, with a view to presenting the whole subject at once, I have included a copy of the printed correspondence heretofore communicated to Congress, which was published by order of the House and which has been submitted in response to the resolution of December 11th, 1863, as follows:

"Resolved, That the President be requested to communicate to the House, if not incompatible with the public interest, the orders given to and the correspondence had with General Jos. E. Johnston during the months of May, June, and July, 1863, concerning his command and the operations in his Department."

This communication would have been made at a much earlier date but for the fact that an important paper which had been handed to me by General Johnston in person at Chattanooga, and in which he objected to sending reinforcements from the Army of Tennessee to that in Mississippi, had been mislaid, and seemed necessary to the completeness of the correspondence. I have not yet been able to recover it, but [am] unwilling to delay my response to your resolution any longer on that account.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., Feb. 25, 1865.

To the Senate and House of Representatives.

I herewith transmit for your consideration a communication from the Secretary of War, covering an estimate for an additional appropriation required by the War Department.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., Feb. 27, 1865.

To the Senate and House of Representatives.

I herewith transmit for your consideration a communication from the Postmaster General, relative to "An Act fixing the salaries of certain civil officers in the Trans-Mississippi Department," and invite your special attention to his suggestions, with a view to further legislation on the subject if you deem it necessary.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., Feb. 28, 1865.

To the Senate and House of Representatives.

I herewith transmit for your consideration a communication from the Secretary of War, relative to the construction and repair of railroads necessary for military purposes, and submitting an estimate of the amount required to be appropriated for these objects during the year 1865.

I invite your special attention to the subject.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., February 28, 1865.

To the Senate and House of Representatives.

I herewith transmit for your information a communication from the Secretary of War, covering copies of several additional reports of military operations.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., March 1, 1865.

To the Senate of the Confederate States.

I have received the following resolution adopted by you in secret session on the 12th January last:

"Resolved, That the President of the Confederate States be requested to communicate to the Senate, if in his opinion it be not incompatible with the public interests, the contemporaneous correspondence and documents mentioned in the letter of the Secretary of War of the 3d inst., communicating a copy of the report of Genl. Joseph E. Johnston, called for by a resolution of the Senate."

In response, I herewith transmit for your information copies of my own correspondence with Genl. J. E. Johnston during the time he commanded the Army of Tennessee in the field, as well as of the correspondence had with him by the Department.

The letter of the Secretary of War of this date, covering the papers forwarded by him, explains the delay in responding to your resolution.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., March 3, 1865.

To the Senate of the Confederate States.

I have this day received a copy of your resolution of the 1st inst., as follows:

"Resolved, That Major General Stephen D. Lee, having been appointed Lt. General under the act of Feb. 17, 1864, and having been relieved from the discharge of the duties in the command to which he was appointed, cannot be confirmed by the Senate to the said command, but must now resume his former rank in the service."

In response, I have the honor to request the return of the nomination which was the occasion of the resolution, and to inform you that, before the action of the Senate in the premises was known, I had directed a new nomination of the officer referred to to be made, which should be free from the objection stated.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., March 4, 1865.

To the Senate of the Confederate States.

In response to your resolution of the 21st ultimo, I herewith transmit for your information a communication from the Secretary of War, covering a copy of General John B. Hood's report of the operations of the Army of Tennessee while under his command.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., March 6, 1865.

To the Senate of the Confederate States.

I have this day approved and signed an act which originated in the Senate entitled "An Act (S. 117) to authorize the commanders of reserves in each State to order general courts-martial and to revise the proceedings of courts-martial and military courts."

In the first section the general commanding reserves in each State is authorized to order general courts-martial for the trial of offenses committed against the military code by persons belonging to his command and to revise the proceedings.

In the second section military courts are authorized under certain circumstances to try offenses committed by members of the organization of reserves. But no provision is made by which the general commanding reserves is authorized to revise the proceedings of military courts in any case. From the title of the act it seems to have been the intention to confer this power, and I have thought it proper to invite your attention to what seems to be an oversight in not granting it. A copy of the act is inclosed.

Jefferson Davis.



Richmond, Va., March 6th, 1865.

To the House of Representatives.

In response to your resolution of the 23d ult., I herewith transmit for your information a communication from the Secretary of War, covering a copy of General John B. Hood's report of the operations of the Army of Tennessee while under his command.

Jefferson Davis.


To the Senate and House of Representatives of the Confederate States of America.

Having been this day informed that the two houses of Congress have concurred in fixing Saturday next as the day for the adjournment, I deem it proper and advisable to notify you that I expect at an early day to send a communication[6] which may require your deliberation and action, and therefore to request that you will prolong your session for a few days.

Jefferson Davis.

Richmond, March 9, 1865.


Executive Office, Richmond, Va., March 9th, 1865.

To the Senate and House of Representatives of the Confederate States.

I herewith transmit for your consideration a communication from the Secretary of the Treasury, covering estimates of appropriations required for the support of the Government during the year 1865.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., March 9th, 1865.

To the House of Representatives.

I herewith transmit for your information a copy of the report of Lieut. Genl. S. D. Lee, of the operations of his corps of the Army of Tennessee during the recent campaign, under command of Genl. John B. Hood, whose report in response to your resolution of the 23d ult. was submitted on the 6th inst.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., March 11, 1865.

To the Senate of the Confederate States.

I have received a copy of your resolution of the 6th instant, as follows:

Resolved, That the President be respectfully requested to inform the Senate why he gives to aids-de-camp to general officers above the grade of brigadier general only the rank of first lieutenant in his nominations made to the Senate.

In response, I herewith transmit for your information a communication from the Secretary of War upon the same subject in response to the resolution of the House of Representatives of November 8, 1864, as follows:

Resolved, That the President be respectfully requested to inform this House whether any appointments have been made under the act entitled "An Act to provide and organize a general staff for the armies in the field to serve during the war," approved June 14, 1864; and if not, why such appointments have not been made in pursuance of said act.

The anticipation of amendatory legislation, as set forth in the annexed report, together with the discretionary power vested in the Executive by the seventh section of the act referred to, has caused me for the time being not to make appointments under said act.

In the case of aids-de-camp, it has been the practice, because of their personal and confidential relations to their chief, to appoint upon his nomination. To this practice there seems to be no paramount objection, while the rank of such officers is of the subaltern grade; but if they have high rank, for many and obvious considerations their selection cannot be controlled by the personal preferences of the general with whom they are to serve. But the suggested change in the mode of selection would impair the confidential relation which an aid should have to his chief, and be an unwelcome task to the appointing power.

The nominations of aids-de-camp have for the above reasons been continued as heretofore, though the legislative amendment expected had not been made.

Jefferson Davis.


Executive Office, Richmond, March 13, 1865.

To the Senate and House of Representatives of the Confederate States of America.

I have now under consideration the act entitled "An Act to diminish the number of exemptions and details," which has passed both Houses, and was presented to me on Saturday, the 11th instant.

The act contains two provisions which would in practice so impair the efficiency of the service as to counterbalance, if not outweigh, the advantages that would result from the other clauses contained in it.

The third section exempts all skilled artisans and mechanics in the employment of the Government from all military service. A very important and indeed indispensable portion of our local defense troops consists of these mechanics and artisans. They amount to many thousands in the Confederacy; and while they are and should remain exempt from general service, no good cause is perceived why they should not, like all other citizens capable of bearing arms, be organized for local defense and be ready to defend the localities in which they are respectively employed against sudden raids and incursions. If exempt from this local service, it will be necessary to detach in many cases troops from the armies in the field to guard the towns and workshops where they are employed. It is believed that if this provision becomes a law the gain of strength resulting from the repeal of other exemptions enacted by the first section of the law would be more than counterbalanced by the loss of this local force.

The second provision to which I refer is that which revokes all details and exemptions heretofore granted by the President and Secretary of War, and prohibits the grant of such exemptions and details hereafter. There is little hazard in saying that such a provision could not be executed without so disorganizing the public service as to produce very injurious results. In every department of the Government, in every branch of the service throughout the country, there are duties to be performed which cannot be discharged except by men instructed and trained in their performance. Long experience makes them experts. Their services become in their peculiar sphere of duty worth to the country greatly more than any they could possibly render in the field. Some of these it would be impossible immediately to replace. The Treasury expert who detects a forged note at a glance; the accounting officer whose long experience makes him a living repository of the rules and precedents which guard the Treasury from frauds; the superintendent of the manufacturing establishments of the Government which supply shoes, harness, wagons, ambulances, &c., for the Army; the employees who have been specially trained in the distribution and subdivision of mail matter among the various routes by which it is to reach its destination, are among the instances that are afforded by the daily experience of executive officers. To withdraw from the public service at once, and without any means of replacing them, the very limited number of experts, believed to be less than 100, who are affected by the bill, is to throw the whole machinery of Government into confusion and disorder, at a period when none who are not engaged in executive duties can have an adequate idea of the difficulties by which they are already embarrassed.

The desire of the Executive and the Secretary of War to obtain for the Army the services of every man available for the public defense can hardly be doubted, and Congress may be assured that nothing but imperative public necessity could induce the exercise of any discretion vested in them to retain men out of the Army. But no Government can be administered without vesting some discretion in executive officers in the application of general rules to classes of the population. Individual exceptions exist to all such rules, in the very nature of things, and these exceptions cannot be provided for by legislation in advance.

I earnestly hope that Congress will pass an amendment to the act now under consideration, in accordance with the foregoing recommendations, so that I may be able by signing both the act and amendment to secure unimpaired benefit from the proposed legislation.

Jefferson Davis.


Executive Office, Richmond, March 13, 1865.

To the Senate and House of Representatives of the Confederate States.

I have returned with my approval an act entitled "An Act to regulate the business of conscription." There is, however, one section of the act which seems to me to threaten injury to the service unless essentially modified.

The eighth section provides that there shall be in each Congressional district "a medical board composed of three surgeons, who, after due notice of the time and place of their meeting, shall visit each county of their district at least once in three months, and shall examine for discharge or recommendation for light duty all conscripts who have been furloughed under the provisions of the preceding section. Every discharge granted by said medical board shall be final and shall relieve the party from all military service in the future when the disability is permanent and the cause of it is set forth in the certificate."

It is greatly to be feared that under the terms of this section considerable numbers of men will be finally discharged from military service while competent to aid in the defense of their country. The terms of the law do not require that the disability shall be total, as well as permanent, in order to entitle the soldier to be discharged. The loss of a limb, or stiffness of a joint, or even the loss of the dexter forefinger, lameness, nearsightedness, partial deafness, are instances of disability, permanent but not total, and which may well exist without rendering the individual incompetent to perform valuable service in posts, garrisons, or even in active operations.

The number of surgeons required for the duty imposed by this section would be about 150 in addition to the local physicians. We have no medical officers to spare from attendance upon the troops and in hospitals, so that it would be necessary to appoint this number of new officers who would generally be drawn from men in active service in the field. After the first visit to the different counties these officers would have so little to do as to be practically supernumeraries supported by the Government at great cost, and with the loss of their services in the field. Of the three surgeons who are to compose the board, only two are to be public officers; so that any resident physician of a county, in connection with a single Army surgeon, would have power by action, from which there is no appeal, to discharge permanently from service any inhabitant of the county in which he practices his profession. When we consider the strong opposition manifested in many districts of the country to the system of conscription, and the many influences which are resorted to by those who seek to escape service, there is much cause to fear that the effect of these provisions will be to deplete our reduced forces to a serious extent, and I hope it will be the pleasure of Congress to repeal this section or materially to modify its provisions.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., March 13, 1865.

To the Senate and House of Representatives of the Confederate States of America.

When informed on Thursday last that it was the intention of Congress to adjourn sine die on the ensuing Saturday, I deemed it my duty to request a postponement of the adjournment[7] in order that I might submit for your consideration certain matters of public interest which are now laid before you. When that request was made, the most important measures that had occupied your attention during the session had not been so far advanced as to be submitted for Executive action, and the state of the country had been so materially affected by the events of the last four months as to evince the necessity of further and more energetic legislation than was contemplated in November last.

Our country is now environed with perils which it is our duty calmly to contemplate. Thus alone can the measures necessary to avert threatened calamities be wisely devised and efficiently enforced.

Recent military operations of the enemy have been successful in the capture of some of our seaports, in interrupting some of our lines of communication, and in devastating large districts of our country. These events have had the natural effect of encouraging our foes and dispiriting many of our people. The Capital of the Confederate States is now threatened, and is in greater danger than it has heretofore been during the war. The fact is stated without reserve or concealment, as due to the people whose servants we are, and in whose courage and constancy entire trust is reposed; as due to you, in whose wisdom and resolute spirit the people have confided for the adoption of the measures required to guard them from threatened perils.

While stating to you that our country is in danger, I desire also to state my deliberate conviction that it is within our power to avert the calamities which menace us, and to secure the triumph of the sacred cause for which so much sacrifice has been made, so much suffering endured, so many precious lives been lost. This result is to be obtained by fortitude, by courage, by constancy in enduring the sacrifices still needed; in a word, by the prompt and resolute devotion of the whole resources of men and money in the Confederacy to the achievement of our liberties and independence. The measures now required, to be successful, should be prompt. Long deliberation and protracted debate over important measures are not only natural, but laudable in representative assemblies under ordinary circumstances; but in moments of danger, when action becomes urgent, the delay thus caused is itself a new source of peril. Thus it has unfortunately happened that some of the measures passed by you in pursuance of the recommendations contained in my message[8] of November last have been so retarded as to lose much of their value, or have, for the same reason, been abandoned after being matured, because no longer applicable to our altered condition, and others have not been brought under examination. In making these remarks it is far from my intention to attribute the loss of time to any other cause than those inherent in deliberative assemblies, but only urgently to recommend prompt action upon the measures now submitted. We need, for carrying on the war successfully, men and supplies for the Army. We have both within our country sufficient to obtain success. To obtain the supplies, it is necessary to protect productive districts and guard our lines of communication by an increase in the number of our forces; and hence it results that, with a large augmentation in the number of men in the Army, the facility of supplying the troops would be greater than with our present reduced strength. For the purchase of the supplies now required, especially for the armies in Virginia and North Carolina, the Treasury must be provided with means, and a modification in the impressment law is required. It has been ascertained by examination that we have within our reach a sufficiency of what is most needed for the Army, without having recourse to the ample provision existing in those parts of the Confederacy with which our communication has been partially interrupted by hostile operations. But in some districts from which supplies are to be drawn the inhabitants, being either within the enemy's lines or in very close proximity, are unable to make use of Confederate Treasury notes for the purchase of articles of prime necessity, and it is necessary that to some extent coin be paid in order to obtain supplies. It is therefore recommended that Congress devise the means for making available the coin within the Confederacy for the purpose of supplying the Army. The officers of the supply departments report that with $2,000,000 in coin the armies in Virginia and North Carolina can be amply supplied for the remainder of the year, and the knowledge of this fact should suffice to insure the adoption of the measures necessary to obtain this moderate sum.

The impressment law as it now exists prohibits the public officers from impressing supplies without making payment of the valuation at the time of impressment. The limit fixed for the issue of Treasury notes has been nearly reached, and the Treasury cannot always furnish the funds necessary for prompt payment; while the law for raising revenue, which would have afforded means for diminishing, if not removing, this difficulty, was unfortunately delayed for several months, and has just been signed. In this condition of things it is impossible to supply the Army, although ample stores may exist in the country, whenever the owners refuse to give credit to the public officer. It is necessary that this restriction on the power of impressment be removed. The power is admitted to be objectionable, liable to abuse, and unequal in its operations on individuals; yet all these objections must yield to absolute necessity. It is also suggested that the system of valuation now established ought to be radically changed. The legislation requires in such cases of impressment that the market price be paid; but there is really no market price in many cases, and the valuation is made arbitrarily and in a depreciated currency. The result is that the most extravagant prices are fixed, such as no one expects ever to be paid in coin. None believe that the Government can ever redeem in coin the obligation to pay $50 a bushel for corn, or $700 a barrel for flour. It would seem to be more just and appropriate to estimate the supplies impressed at their value in coin, to give the obligation of the Government for the payment of the price in coin with reasonable interest; or, at the option of the creditor, to return in kind the wheat or corn impressed, with a reasonable interest also payable in kind, and to make the obligations thus issued receivable for all payments due in coin to the Government. Whatever be the value attached by Congress to these suggestions, it is hoped that there will be no hesitation in so changing the law as to render it possible to supply the Army in case of necessity for the impressment of provisions for that purpose.

The measure adopted to raise revenue, though liberal in its provisions, being clearly inadequate to meet the arrear of debt and the current expenditure, some degree of embarrassment in the management of the finances must continue to be felt. It is to be regretted. I think, that the recommendation of the Secretary of the Treasury of a tax on agricultural income equal to the augmented tax on other incomes, payable in Treasury notes, was rejected by Congress. This tax would have contributed materially to facilitate the purchase of provisions and diminish the necessity that is now felt for a supply of coin.

The measures passed by Congress during the session for recruiting the Army and supplying the additional force needed for the public defense have been, in my judgment, insufficient; and I am impelled by a profound conviction of duty, and stimulated by a sense of the perils which surround our country, to urge upon you additional legislation on this subject.

The bill for employing negroes as soldiers has not reached me, though the printed journals of your proceedings inform me of its passage. Much benefit is anticipated from this measure, though far less than would have resulted from its adoption at an earlier date, so as to afford time for their organization and instruction during the winter months.

The bill for diminishing the number of exempts has just been made the subject of a special message,[9] and its provisions are such as would add no strength to the Army. The recommendation to abolish all class exemptions has not met your favor, although still deemed by me a valuable and important measure; and the number of men exempted by a new clause in the act just passed is believed to be quite equal to that of those whose exemption is revoked. A law of a few lines repealing all class exemptions would not only strengthen the forces in the field, but be still more beneficial by abating the natural discontent and jealousy created in the Army by the existence of classes privileged by law to remain in places of safety while their fellow-citizens are exposed in the trenches and the field.

The measure most needed, however, at the present time for affording an effective increase to our military strength is a general militia law, such as the Constitution authorizes Congress to pass, by granting to it power "to provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the Confederate States," and the further power "to provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the Confederate States, suppress insurrections, and repel invasions." The necessity for the exercise of this power can never exist if not in the circumstances which now surround us.

The security of the States against any encroachment by the Confederate Government is amply provided by the Constitution by "reserving to the States, respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress."

A law is needed to prescribe not only how and of what persons the militia are to be organized, but to provide the mode of calling them out. If instances be required to show the necessity for such general law, it is sufficient to mention that in one case I have been informed by the Governor of a State that the law does not permit him to call the militia from one county for service in another, so that a single brigade of the enemy could traverse the State and devastate each county in turn without any power on the part of the Executive to use the militia for effective defense; while in another State the Executive refused to allow the militia "to be employed in the service of the Confederate States" in the absence of a law for that purpose.

I have heretofore, in a confidential message[10] to the two Houses, stated the facts which induced me to consider it necessary that the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus should be suspended. The conviction of the necessity of this measure has become deeper as the events of the struggle have been developed. Congress has not concurred with me in this opinion. It is my duty to say that the time has arrived when the suspension of the writ is not simply advisable and expedient, but almost indispensable to the successful conduct of the war. On Congress must rest the responsibility of declining to exercise a power conferred by the Constitution as a means of public safety, to be used in periods of national peril resulting from foreign invasion. If our present circumstances are not such as were contemplated when this power was conferred, I confess myself at a loss to imagine any contingency in which this clause of the Constitution will not remain a dead letter.

With the prompt adoption of the measures above recommended and the united and hearty cooperation of Congress and the people in the execution of the laws and the defense of the country, we may enter upon the present campaign with cheerful confidence in the result. And who can doubt the continued existence of that spirit and fortitude in the people, and of that constancy under reverses, which alone are needed to render our triumph secure? What other resource remains available but the undying, unconquerable resolve to be free? It has become certain beyond all doubt or question that we must continue this struggle to a successful issue, or must make abject and unconditional submission to such terms as it shall please the conqueror to impose on us after our surrender. If a possible doubt could exist after the conference between our Commissioners and Mr. Lincoln, as recently reported[11] to you, it would be dispelled by a recent occurrence of which it is proper that you should be informed. Congress will remember that in the conference above referred to our Commissioners were informed that the Government of the United States would not enter into any agreement or treaty whatever with the Confederate States, nor with any single State; that the only possible mode of obtaining peace was by laying down our arms, disbanding our forces, and yielding unconditional obedience to the laws of the United States, including those passed for the confiscation of our property, and the constitutional amendment for the abolition of slavery. It will be further remembered that Mr. Lincoln declared that the only terms on which hostilities could cease were those stated in his message of December last, in which we were informed that in the event of our penitent submission he would temper justice with mercy, and that the question whether we would be governed as dependent territories or permitted to have a representation in their Congress was one on which he could promise nothing, but which would be decided by their Congress after our submission had been accepted.

It has not, however, been hitherto stated to you that in the course of the conference at Fortress Monroe a suggestion was made by one of our Commissioners that the objection entertained by Mr. Lincoln to treating with the Government of the Confederacy, or with any separate State, might be avoided by substituting for the usual mode of negotiating through commissioners or other diplomatic agents the method sometimes employed of a military convention to be entered into by the commanding generals of the armies of the two belligerents. This he admitted was a power possessed by him, though it was not thought commensurate with all the questions involved. As he did not accept the suggestions when made, he was afterwards requested to reconsider his conclusion upon the subject of a suspension of hostilities, which he agreed to do, but said that he had maturely considered the plan and had determined that it could not be done. Subsequently, however, an interview with General Longstreet was asked for by General Ord, commanding the enemy's Army of the James, during which General Longstreet was informed by him that there was a possibility of arriving at a satisfactory adjustment of the present unhappy difficulties by means of a military convention, and that if General Lee desired an interview on the subject it would not be declined, provided General Lee had authority to act. This communication was supposed to be the consequence of the suggestion above referred to, and General Lee, according to instructions, wrote to General Grant on the 2d of this month proposing to meet him for conference on the subject, and stating that he was vested with the requisite authority. General Grant's reply stated that he had no authority to accede to the proposed conference; that his power extended only to making a convention on subjects purely of a military character, and that General Ord could only have meant that an interview would not be refused on any subject on which he (General Grant) had the right to act. It thus appears that neither with the Confederate authorities nor the authorities of any State, nor through the commanding generals, will the Government of the United States treat or make any terms or agreement whatever for the cessation of hostilities. There remains, then, for us no choice but to continue the contest to a final issue, for the people of the Confederacy can be but little known to him who supposes it possible that they would ever consent to purchase at the cost of degradation and slavery permission to live in a country garrisoned by their own negroes and governed by officers sent by the conqueror to rule over them.

Having thus fully placed before you the information requisite to enable you to judge of the state of the country, the dangers to which we are exposed, and the measures of legislation needed for averting them, it remains for me but to invoke your attention to the consideration of those means by which, above all others, we may hope to escape the calamities that would result from our failure. Prominent above all others is the necessity for earnest and cordial cooperation between all departments of government, State and Confederate, and all eminent citizens throughout the Confederacy. To you especially, as Senators and Representatives, do the people look for encouragement and counsel. To your action, not only in legislative halls but in your homes, will their eyes be turned for the example of what is befitting men who, by willing sacrifices on the altar of freedom, show that they are worthy to enjoy its blessings. I feel full confidence that you will concur with me in the conviction that your public duties will not be ended when you shall have closed the legislative labors of the session, but that your voice will be heard cheering and encouraging the people to that persistent fortitude which they have hitherto displayed, and animating them by the manifestation of that serene confidence which in moments of public danger is the distinctive characteristic of the patriot who derives courage from his devotion to his country's destiny and is thus enabled to inspire the like courage in others.

Thus united in a common and holy cause, rising above all selfish considerations, rendering all our means and faculties tributary to the country's welfare, let us bow submissively to the Divine will and reverently invoke the blessing of our Heavenly Father, that, as he protected and guided our sires when struggling in a similar cause, so he will enable us to guard safely our altars and our firesides and maintain inviolate the political rights which we inherited.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., March 13, 1865.

To the House of Representatives.

Herewith I transmit a letter from the Secretary of War, covering several communications from officers of the Army in reference to the present condition of the country as connected with military defense, and especially with the matter of supplies for the Army. They will serve to elucidate the message[12] this day transmitted to you. The last in the order of time of those communications was received after my message was transmitted, and refers to a contingency which, if it should occur, must seriously affect the opinions which I then expressed. I invite your special attention to the papers submitted.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., March 13, 1865.

To the Senate and House of Representatives.

I herewith transmit for your information copies of the correspondence referred to in my message[12] of this date, in regard to the proposed conference to adjust terms of peace by means of a military convention.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., March 13th, 1865.

To the House of Representatives.

In response to your resolution of 23d November last, I herewith transmit for your information a communication from the Secretary of War, the Attorney General, and the Postmaster General, relative to the number, ages, etc., of the officers and employees in their respective Departments on duty in the city of Richmond.

The transmission of these papers has been delayed in order that the report of the Secretary of the Treasury relative to the number of employees in his Department, which was included in your call for information, might accompany them.

That report has not yet been received, but I have decided to withhold the present communications no longer on that account.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., March 14, 1865.

To the Senate of the Confederate States.

I herewith transmit for your information a communication from the Postmaster General, relative to the removal of a postmaster from office.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., March 14, 1865.

To the House of Representatives.

In response to your resolution of the 2d inst., I herewith transmit for your information communications from the Secretary of the Navy and the commissioner for the exchange of prisoners, relative to the trial and execution of John Y. Beall, Acting Master in the C. S. Navy, by the authorities of the United States.

Jefferson Davis.


VETO MESSAGES.

To the Senate of the Confederate States of America.

I feel constrained to return to the Senate, without my approval, an act which originated in your honorable body, entitled, "An Act to increase the number of acting midshipmen in the Navy, and to provide the mode of appointment."

The act provides that the additional acting midshipmen "shall be appointed under the regulations prescribed by the Secretary of the Navy as follows: One from each Congressional district, upon the recommendation of the Representative in Congress; two at large from each State, upon the recommendation of the Senators thereof respectively; and ten at large by the President."

The Constitution, in the 2d article, 2d section, 2d clause, after giving to the President power to nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate to appoint all officers of the Confederate States whose appointments are not otherwise provided for, adds: "But the Congress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers as they think proper in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the Heads of Departments."

The framers of the Constitution, in defining the powers of the several Departments of the Government, took care to designate the particular class of offices which the two Houses of Congress may fill, and thus excluded the idea of power to make selections for any others.

By the fifth clause of article 1st, section 2, the special power is given to the House of Representatives "to choose their Speaker and other officers," the word "their" being applicable not only to the Speaker, but to the "other officers."

By the act now before me, however, the two Houses empower their respective members to "choose" officers that are not "their officers," but officers of the Executive Department of the Government. The language is not susceptible of any other meaning. The acting midshipmen "shall be appointed upon the recommendation" of the Representatives or Senators, as the case may be.

But the Constitution, by granting to Congress no other power over officers created by law than that of vesting the appointment "in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the Heads of Departments," thus withholds from that branch of the Government any participation in such appointments. But it may be remarked that this act gives the power of making the proposed appointments not to Congress as a body, but to the individual members of the two Houses, and that it is thus in conflict with the spirit and intent of the 1st clause of the 6th section of the 1st article of the Constitution, which enumerates the privileges accorded to Representatives and Senators individually. These privileges are carefully restricted to such as are necessary to enable them to discharge their duties as legislators. All other rights, powers, and privileges granted to Congress by the Constitution are conferred on the body collectively, or on one of the two Houses.

The power to make selections for appointment to office is nowhere accorded in that instrument to the Senators and Representatives individually; and it is believed to be an unquestioned principle of constitutional law that no legislation can add to the power vested by the Constitution in any member of any one of the three Departments of Government.

The power of Congress to vest by law the appointment of inferior officers in the President alone or in the Heads of Departments would seem to include a power to restrict, limit, or partially confer the authority, or to divide it between several Departments, provided they be those which may constitutionally exercise the function. But, if the view of the Constitution which has been presented be correct, it is clear that the Congress cannot vest in itself any right to a participation in the selection of officers of any class save those of the two Houses. The language of the act organizing the Navy is sometimes cited to support the opinion that acting midshipmen are not officers, but employees. In the first section of that act, the President is authorized to appoint certain commissioned officers, and to "employ as many masters, midshipmen, engineers, naval constructors, boatswains, gunners, carpenters, sailmakers, and other warrant and petty officers and seamen as he may deem necessary," &c.

If it were conceded that acting midshipmen are not officers, the bill would not on that account be the less liable, in my judgment, to the objections above set forth; for it is as little in accordance with the letter and the spirit of the Constitution for the members of Congress to participate in choosing employees as in choosing officers for the Executive or Judicial Departments. It is repugnant to the whole theory of our republican institutions, which are based on the fundamental idea of independent and distinct functions in each of the Departments of Government, the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial; and evil consequences must result from any departure from this principle.

But in no just sense can it be maintained that an acting midshipman is not an officer of the Navy. The very clause in the law just referred to implies that he is a "warrant officer;" but if there be doubt as to this, the question is decided by the 3rd section of the act of 21st April, 1862, which declares that "the warrant officers shall be as follows: Twenty passed midshipmen, one hundred and six acting midshipmen," &c., &c. The commissioned officer is appointed by and with the advice and consent of the Senate; the next grade, the warrant officer, belongs to that class of inferior officers which according to the Constitution may be established by law, and appointed by the President alone, or the Head of a Department.

The midshipman is of this class. His appointment is authorized by law, and his promotion provided for by regulations. He cannot be discharged or dismissed from service at the pleasure of his commander, nor without delinquency on his part, as a mere employee for temporary service. His name is placed in the Navy Register, and the proper record kept of his entry into service, to determine his rank; and in all relations to officers and seamen he is entitled to be, and is, actually treated as an officer of the Navy.

The bill is returned in no spirit of unwillingness to receive the advice and recommendations of members of Congress, which are recognized to be entitled to special consideration, but from a sense of duty to constitutional obligations.

Jefferson Davis.

23d January, 1865.


Richmond, Va., January 25, 1865.

To the Senate of the Confederate States of America.

I return to your honorable body without my approval an act which originated in the Senate, entitled "An Act to authorize newspapers to be mailed to the soldiers free of postage."

The act provides "that all newspapers directed to any officer, musician, or private engaged in the actual service of the Confederate States may be transmitted through the mails free of postage."

The Constitution, article 1, section 8, clause 7, gives power to Congress "to establish post offices and post routes; but the expenses of the Post Office Department after the 1st day of March, in the year of our Lord 1863, shall be paid out of its own revenues."

This provision that the Post Office Department shall be self-sustaining was not contained in the Constitution of our former Government. It is important that its spirit and object should be correctly determined now, because many members of the present Congress were also members of the Provisional Congress, which adopted this new clause, and legislation by them will be deemed hereafter to possess peculiar value as a precedent, and as a contemporaneous interpretation of the Constitution by those best acquainted with its meaning.

It was generally understood that the clause under consideration was intended by its framers to correct what were deemed to be two great vices that had been developed in the postal system of the United States. The first was the injustice of taxing the whole people for the expense of the mail facilities afforded to individuals; and the remedy devised was to limit the Government to the furnishing of machinery for carrying the mails and compelling those who might use the facilities thus furnished to pay the expense thereof.

The second evil against which this clause was intended as a safeguard was the wasteful extravagance which grew out of the franking privilege, with its attendant abuses of large contracts for stationery, printing, binding, &c., and increased Government patronage with its train of corrupting influences.

With this knowledge of the purpose of the framers of the Constitution, and of the evils against which they intended to provide by the clause under consideration, I cannot escape the conclusion that to authorize the transmission of any mail matter free of postage is to violate the true intent and meaning of the Constitution.

If the act now before me should become a law, the Postmaster General would be bound to pay railroads and other carriers for conveying newspapers to the armies without reimbursement from any source whatever. He could not be repaid out of the general Treasury without a violation of the letter of the Constitution, nor out of the other revenues of his Department without in effect imposing on those who pay for carrying their own correspondence an additional charge to defray the cost of conveying newspapers for others.

If it be competent for Congress under the clause to order newspapers to be carried free of postage, the power exists to order free transmission of any other mail matter. But we must ever remember that Congress can exercise no implied powers — certainly none not necessary to carry into effect the powers expressly granted; and where shall we find in the Constitution any power in the Confederate Government, expressed or implied, for dividing either the people or the public servants into classes unequally burdened with postal charges?

In that part of the Constitution which specially treats of the burden of taxation, every precaution has been taken to secure uniformity and to guard against bounties or preferences of any kind; and although not directly applicable to the subject of postage, the spirit of the whole provision is so opposed to inequality in legislation that the passage may well serve for illustration. The first clause of article 1, section 8, gives to Congress power "to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises for revenue necessary to pay the debts, provide for the common defense, and carry on the Government of the Confederate States; but no bounties shall be granted from the Treasury; nor shall any duties or taxes on importations from foreign nations be laid to promote or foster any branch of industry; and all duties, imposts, and excises shall be uniform throughout the Confederate States." It is true that the payment of postage is not properly a tax, but compensation for service rendered; yet it would scarcely be ingenuous to deny that so to regulate the rates of postage as to produce an excess of receipts over the expense of carrying mail matter for one class and to use this excess in order to carry free of cost the mail matter of another class would strongly conflict with the just equality of privileges and burdens which the above-cited clauses were designed to secure.

I regret to be compelled to object to a measure devised by Congress for the benefit or relief of the Army, but with my convictions on the subject it is not possible to approve the act now before me.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., March 9, 1865.

To the Senate of the Confederate States.

I feel constrained to return the bill "To provide for the promotion of officers in certain cases" to the Senate, in which it originated, with a statement of the objections which have led me to withhold from it my signature.

The Constitution provides, in paragraph 2, section 2, article 2, that the President "shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate," to appoint officers of the Confederate States not otherwise provided for, "but the Congress may, by law, vest the appointment of such inferior officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the Heads of Departments."

In the bill under consideration it is declared that "it shall be competent to the commanding general in the field, or the Secretary of War, to order the promotions to be made of the officers next in grade," &c.

This seems to me to confer a power of appointment on commanding generals not warranted by the Constitution.

It may be further remarked that the power conferred upon the Secretary of War will be ineffectual except in the case where the officer next in rank is qualified to fill the temporary vacancy, a case in which the power would be least necessary in order to provide for the time being a competent commander.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., March 11, 1865.

To the Senate of the Confederate States of America.

The act entitled "An Act to abolish the office of certain quartermasters and assistant quartermasters, commissaries and assistant commissaries, and to provide for the appointment of bonded agents in said departments," which originated in your honorable body, is herewith returned without my approval, and with a statement of the objections which have prevented my signing it.

The act abolishes the office of all quartermasters,, assistant quartermasters, commissaries, and assistant commissaries at posts and depots, and of those engaged in purchasing and impressing supplies, except such as are above the age of forty-five years, or have been disabled in service or declared unfit for duty in the field. It requires those officers to be dropped from service (one-fourth in two months, one-fourth in four months, one-fourth in six months, and one-fourth within two years), and directs that their places be supplied by bonded agents, who are to be persons above the age of forty-five years or disabled in service, or unfit for duty in the field; and it revokes all details and repeals all authority to grant details of persons between the ages of eighteen and forty-five years for duty in the Quartermaster's and Commissary Departments, except skilled artisans and mechanics permanently employed, or persons disabled or unfit for duty in the field.

The object plainly intended by this act is one which meets my hearty concurrence and approval. Its obvious purpose is to strengthen the Army by placing in the ranks persons fit for active service, and whose places can be supplied by others unable to do duty in the field. On reference of the subject, however, to the Secretary of War, it has been found that this act could not be executed without seriously impairing our ability to supply the armies in the field during the approaching campaign, and that its operation would be to drop officers who have been carefully selected by reason of their superior capacity and qualifications, while retaining others of inferior merit and value.

The difficulty of furnishing supplies to the Army, owing to embarrassments in transportation, is greater now than it has been at any previous period of the war. This difficulty has prompted the selection for that duty of the best and most active and competent officers in the Quartermaster's and Commissary Departments, and such officers have within the last six months been in many instances withdrawn from the armies where their services were less important, and assigned to duty in purchasing, collecting, and forwarding supplies. This fact was, I feel confident, not known to Congress when the act was passed; and it could not have been intended to drop from service officers of special merit and retain others of inferior value. I am also satisfied, from the report made to me by the Secretary of War, that the number of officers who would be dropped under the provisions of this law is far less than is supposed; that their value as soldiers in the ranks would in no manner compensate for the loss of their services in their present positions. The total number of post and purchasing commissaries in the States east of the Mississippi River is but 212, of whom many are either over forty-five years of age, or otherwise exempt from the operations of the proposed law. The total number of quartermasters collecting taxes in kind is 96, and on post duty 223, including officers in charge of manufactories of clothing, shoes, harness, wagons, ambulances, &c. A number of them are over forty-five years of age, others would not be embraced by the terms of the act, others still have special qualifications for the superintendence of the important manufactures confided to their care.

Taken altogether, it is doubted whether the officers who would be dropped under the provisions of the bill would exceed 200 in number, of whom 50 would go into the ranks in two months, 50 in four months, and 50 more in six months. This scarcely appreciable addition to the force in the field would be dearly bought at the sacrifice of efficiency in the two branches of service on which the very existence of the Army depends. The terms of the act exempt from its operation those now on duty in the field, so that if it becomes a law it would not even be possible to avert the loss of the best officers by returning them to duty in the field, and dropping others of inferior merit. The Secretary of War is left without discretion or choice in the matter.

The heads of the two branches of service affected by this act apprehend great embarrassment to their respective departments if it becomes a law. The machinery now organized would be impaired in its workings everywhere, and in some instances positively interrupted just at the opening of the most important campaign. Valuable and experienced officers would be withdrawn from service. Chief commissaries long accustomed to control operations in an entire State, quartermasters thoroughly informed as to the resources of their respective fields of duty, would at short intervals be dropped, and the heads of these bureaus would be embarrassed with the difficult duty in the midst of an active campaign of supplying the places with inexperienced and untried successors.

The representations made to me on the subjects embraced in this act by those under whose immediate superintendence its provisions would be executed, together with my own daily experience of the difficulties attendant on the efficient discharge of the duties of these two indispensable branches of the service, have created apprehensions of injurious effects from the passage of the act too serious to permit my approving it.

Jefferson Davis.


Richmond, Va., March 17, 1865.

To the House of Representatives of the Confederate States of America.

I return without my approval an act which originated in your honorable body, entitled "An Act to provide for the payment of arrears now due to the Army and Navy."

I have been led to believe that this act was passed in haste and without due consideration, and that some members who voted for it desire an opportunity for reconsidering their action.

The act provides for additional issue of Treasury notes to an amount not exceeding $80,000,000, to be used in payment of all arrears of pay and allowances due to persons in the military and naval service of the Confederate States; these notes "to be regarded in all respects as Treasury notes issued by virtue of the act to reduce the currency and authorize a new issue of notes and bonds, approved February 17, 1864."

The objections to this legislation are, in my judgment, manifold and grave.

First. The act of February 17, 1864, levied a tax on the Treasury notes then outstanding far exceeding that levied on any other species of property, and which could be justified only by the consideration that the additional contribution thus exacted from the holders of these public credits would be compensated in whole or in part by the increased value of the new currency which was issued for the old at the rate of $2 of the former for $3 of the latter. The act revoked all authority theretofore given to issue Treasury notes, and it was generally if not universally considered that the provisions of that law constituted an implied pledge of the faith of the Government that no further issues of notes should be made than those therein provided for. It would be scarcely consistent to take from the holder one-third of the nominal amount of the currency in hand for the purpose of reducing the currency as set forth in the title of the law; to unite with this exaction a previous authority to issue notes, and afterwards to provide for an expansion of the currency in opposition to the principles of the act of February 17, 1864, to the evident detriment of the holders of the currency under that act.

Second. Independently of the objection just stated, the effect of a new issue of Treasury notes would be disastrous. The passage of the law would be accepted as proof that there is no limit to the issue of Treasury notes except the pleasure of the Government, and the people will be persuaded that whenever an emergency arises it will be met by additional issues of paper money. Such a conviction, once rooted in the popular mind, could not be eradicated, and the depreciation of the notes in circulation would increase so rapidly as effectually to destroy the whole value of what is outstanding and leave the country without a circulation and the Government without credit.

Third. The bill, although intended by Congress for the benefit of the Army, to which we all acknowledge the most sacred obligations of justice and gratitude, would have an effect the reverse of that designed. It would despoil the soldier, instead of paying him. If money be raised by taxation for paying arrears due the Army, the demand thus created for the notes enhances the value and enables the public creditor who receives them to make them available for the purchase of what he needs. If, on the contrary, the soldier is to have his claim extinguished by the simple process of printing more paper money, and thus diminishing its value below even its present depreciation, his claims for his arrears of pay will have been practically repudiated instead of being paid. Justice to the soldier prompted Congress to pass this bill. The same motive induces me to withhold my approval of it; and if my objections shall appear to you well founded, when your attention is drawn to the supposed consequences that would result from this legislation, I am persuaded that you will concur in my opinion that it ought not to be adopted.

Fourth. There is a mechanical difficulty in the execution of the law of which Congress was not aware, and which under any circumstances would render the bill unavailing for its intended purpose of prompt payment of the arrears due the Army.

The removal of the Treasury Note Bureau from Columbia, the time required for reëstablishing it with its machinery at another locality and for preparing Treasury notes for the $50,000,000 or $60,000,000 remaining for issue under existing laws, together with other causes which it is unwise to relate, would prevent the issue of the notes provided for in this bill for at least three months to come.

It is gratifying to assure you of my belief that the receipts from the tax bill just passed, together with other resources within reach of the Treasury, will enable the Government to pay the arrears due to the Army and Navy sooner than the additional notes contemplated by the bill could be issued, and that the proposed increase of currency can thus be avoided without causing delay in satisfying the just claims of the defenders of our country.

Jefferson Davis.


PROCLAMATIONS.

General Orders No. 89.

Headquarters Trans-Mississippi Department,
Shreveport, La.,
November 24, 1864.

The following proclamation of the President is republished for information in this Department:

A PROCLAMATION.

It is meet that the people of the Confederate States should, from time to time, assemble to acknowledge their dependence on Almighty God, to render devout thanks to his holy name, to bend in prayer at his footstool, and to accept, with fervent submission, the chastening of his all-wise and all-merciful providence.

Let us, then, in temples and in the field, unite our voices in recognizing, with adoring gratitude, the manifestations of his protecting care in the many signal victories with which our arms have been crowned; in the fruitfulness with which our land has been blessed, and in the unimpaired energy and fortitude with which he has inspired our hearts and strengthened our arms in resistance to the iniquitous designs of our enemies.

And let us not forget that, while graciously vouchsafing to us his protection, our sins have merited and received grievous chastisement; that many of our best and bravest have fallen in battle; that many others are still held in foreign prisons; that large districts of our country have been devastated with savage ferocity, the peaceful homes destroyed, and helpless women and children driven away in destitution; and that with fiendish malignity the passions of a servile race have been excited by our foes into the commission of atrocities from which death is a welcome escape.

Now, therefore, I, Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America, do issue this my proclamation, setting apart Wednesday, the 16th day of November next, as a day to be specially devoted to the worship of Almighty God; and I do invite and invoke all the people of these Confederate States to assemble on the day aforesaid, in their respective places of public worship, there to unite in prayer to our Heavenly Father that he bestow his favor upon us; that he extend over us the protection of his almighty arm; that he sanctify his chastisement to our improvement, so that we may turn away from evil paths and walk righteously in his sight; and that he may restore peace to our beloved country, healing its bleeding wounds, and securing to us the continued enjoyment of our own right to self-government and independence, and that he will graciously hearken to us while we ascribe to him the power and glory of our independence.

Given under my hand and the seal of the Confederate States at Richmond, this 26th day of October, in the year of our Lord 1864.

Jefferson Davis.

By the President:

J. P. Benjamin, Secretary of State.

The foregoing proclamation, owing to the irregularity of communication with the seat of Government, was not received until too late for the general observance of the day appointed. The commanding general therefore directs that the 16th day of December next be set apart for the object specified; that on that day all Government workshops be closed and labor suspended, and that, as far as practicable, all military duties cease. The troops are recommended to assemble at their respective places of worship, and the citizens of the Department invited to unite in the religious observance of the day.

By command of General E. Kirby Smith.

S. S. Anderson, Assistant Adjutant General.


By the President of the Confederate States.

A PROCLAMATION.

Whereas, It has been made known to me that Bennett G. Burley, an Acting Master in the Navy of the Confederate States, is now under arrest in one of the British North American Provinces on an application made by the Government of the United States for the delivery to that Government of the said Bennett G. Burley, under the treaty known as the Extradition Treaty, now in force between the United States and Great Britain;

And whereas, it has been represented to me that the said demand for the extradition of said Bennett G. Burley is based on the charge that the said Burley is a fugitive from justice, accused of having committed the crimes of robbery and piracy within the jurisdiction of the United States;

And whereas, it has further been made known to me that the accusations and charges made against the said Bennett G. Burley are based solely on the acts and conduct of said Burley in an enterprise or expedition made or attempted in the month of September last (1864) for the capture of the steamer "Michigan," an armed vessel of the United States, navigating the Lakes on the boundary line between the United States and the said British North American Provinces, and for the release of numerous citizens of the Confederate States, held as prisoners of war by the United States, at a certain island called Johnson's Island;

And whereas, the said enterprise or expedition for the capture of said armed steamer "Michigan" and for the release of the said prisoners on Johnson's Island was a proper and legitimate belligerent operation, undertaken during the pending public war between the two Confederacies known respectively as the Confederate States of America and the United States of America; which operation was ordered, directed, and sustained by the authority of the Government of the Confederate States, and confided to its commissioned officers for execution, among which officers is the said Bennett G. Burley:

Now, therefore, I, Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America, do hereby declare and make known to all whom it may concern, that the expedition aforesaid, undertaken in the month of September last, for the capture of the armed steamer "Michigan," a vessel of war of the United States, and for the release of the prisoners of war, citizens of the Confederate States of America, held captive by the United States of America at Johnson's Island, was a belligerent expedition ordered and undertaken under the authority of the Confederate States of America, against the United States of America, and that the Government of the Confederate States of America assumes the responsibility of answering for the acts and conduct of any of its officers engaged in said expedition, and especially of the said Bennett G. Burley, an Acting Master in the Navy of the Confederate States.

And I do further make known to all whom it may concern that in the orders and instructions given to the officers engaged in said expedition, they were specially directed and enjoined to "abstain from violating any of the laws and regulations of the Canadian or British authorities in relation to neutrality," and that the combination necessary to effect the purpose of said expedition "must be made by Confederate soldiers and such assistance as they might (you may) draw from the enemy's country."

In testimony whereof I have signed this manifesto and directed the same to be sealed with the seal of the Department of State of the Confederate States of America, and to be made public.

Done at the city of Richmond on this 24th day of December, 1864.

Jefferson Davis.

By the President:

J. P. Benjamin, Secretary of State.


By the President of the Confederate States.

A PROCLAMATION.

The Congress of the Confederate States have, by a joint resolution, invited me to appoint a day of public fasting, humiliation, and prayer, with thanksgiving to Almighty God.

It is our solemn duty at all times, and more especially in a season of public trial and adversity, to acknowledge our dependence on his mercy, and to bow in humble submission before his footstool, confessing our manifold sins, supplicating his gracious pardon, imploring his divine help, and devoutly rendering thanks for the many and great blessings which he has vouchsafed to us.

Let the hearts of our people turn contritely and trustingly unto God; let us recognize in his chastening hand the correction of a Father, and submissively pray that the trials and sufferings which have so long borne heavily upon us may be turned away by his merciful love; that his sustaining grace be given to our people, and his divine wisdom imparted to our rulers; that the Lord of Hosts will be with our armies and fight for us against our enemies, and that he will graciously take our cause into his own hand and mercifully establish for us a lasting, just, and honorable peace and independence.

And let us not forget to render unto his holy name the thanks and praise which are so justly due for his great goodness and for the many mercies which he has extended to us amid the trials and suffering of protracted and bloody war.

Now, therefore, I, Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America, do issue this my proclamation, appointing Friday, the 10th day of March next, as a day of public fasting, humiliation, and prayer (with thanksgiving) for "invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God," and I do earnestly invite all soldiers and citizens to observe the same in a spirit of reverence, penitence, and prayer.

Given under my hand and the seal of the Confederate States, at Richmond, this 25th day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-five.

Jefferson Davis.

By the President:

J. P. Benjamin, Secretary of State.


ADDRESS.

Danville, Va., April 4, 1865.

To the People of the Confederate States of America.

The General in Chief of our Army has found it necessary to make such movements of the troops as to uncover the capital and thus involve the withdrawal of the Government from the city of Richmond.

It would be unwise, even were it possible, to conceal the great moral as well as material injury to our cause that must result from the occupation of Richmond by the enemy. It is equally unwise and unworthy of us, as patriots engaged in a most sacred cause, to allow our energies to falter, our spirits to grow faint, or our efforts to become relaxed under reverses, however calamitous. While it has been to us a source of national pride that for four years of unequaled warfare we have been able, in close proximity to the center of the enemy's power, to maintain the seat of our chosen Government free from the pollution of his presence; while the memories of the heroic dead who have freely given their lives to its defense must ever remain enshrined in our hearts; while the preservation of the capital, which is usually regarded as the evidence to mankind of separate national existence, was an object very dear to us, it is also true, and should not be forgotten, that the loss which we have suffered is not without compensation. For many months the largest and finest army of the Confederacy, under the command of a leader whose presence inspires equal confidence in the troops and the people, has been greatly trammeled by the necessity of keeping constant watch over the approaches to the capital, and has thus been forced to forego more than one opportunity for promising enterprise. The hopes and confidence of the enemy have been constantly excited by the belief that their possession of Richmond would be the signal for our submission to their rule, and relieve them from the burden of war, as their failing resources admonish them it must be abandoned if not speedily brought to a successful close. It is for us, my countrymen, to show by our bearing under reverses how wretched has been the self-deception of those who have believed us less able to endure misfortune with fortitude than to encounter danger with courage. We have now entered upon a new phase of a struggle the memory of which is to endure for all ages and to shed an increasing luster upon our country.

Relieved from the necessity of guarding cities and particular points, important but not vital to our defense, with an army free to move from point to point and strike in detail the detachments and garrisons of the enemy, operating on the interior of our own country, where supplies are more accessible, and where the foe will be far removed from his own base and cut off from all succor in case of reverse, nothing is now needed to render our triumph certain but the exhibition of our own unquenchable resolve. Let us but will it, and we are free; and who, in the light of the past, dare doubt your purpose in the future?

Animated by the confidence in your spirit and fortitude, which never yet has failed me, I announce to you, fellow-countrymen, that it is my purpose to maintain your cause with my whole heart and soul; that I will never consent to abandon to the enemy one foot of the soil of any one of the States of the Confederacy; that Virginia, noble State, whose ancient renown has been eclipsed by her still more glorious recent history, whose bosom has been bared to receive the main shock of this war, whose sons and daughters have exhibited heroism so sublime as to render her illustrious in all times to come—that Virginia, with the help of her people, and by the blessing of Providence, shall be held and defended, and no peace ever be made with the infamous invaders of her homes by the sacrifice of any of her rights or territory. If by stress of numbers we should ever be compelled to a temporary withdrawal from her limits, or those of any other border State, again and again will we return, until the baffled and exhausted enemy shall abandon in despair his endless and impossible task of making slaves of a people resolved to be free.

Let us not, then, despond, my countrymen; but, relying on the never-failing mercies and protecting care of our God, let us meet the foe with fresh defiance, with unconquered and unconquerable hearts.

Jeff'n Davis.


General Orders No. 3.

Adjt. and Insp. General's Office, Richmond, Va., February 6, 1865.

I. The following act of Congress is published for the information of the Army:

An Act to Provide for the Appointment of a General in Chief of the Armies of the Confederate States.

Section 1. The Congress of the Confederate States of America do enact that there shall be appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, an officer, who shall be known and designated as General in Chief, who shall be ranking officer of the Army, and as such shall have command of the military forces of the Confederate States.

Sec 2. That the act providing a staff for the general who may be assigned to duty at the seat of Government is hereby repealed, and that the General in Chief who may be appointed under the provisions of this act shall have a staff not less than that now allowed a general in the field, to be assigned by the President or to be appointed by him, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.

Approved January 23, 1865.

II. General Robert E. Lee, having been duly appointed General in Chief of the Armies of the Confederate States, will assume the duties thereof, and will be obeyed and respected accordingly.

III. General Orders No. 23, of 1864, are hereby revoked.

By order:

S. Cooper, Adjutant and Inspector General.


President's Office, Richmond, Va., March 20, 1865.

To the Secretary of the Senate.

Sir: I have the honor, by direction of the President, to request that you furnish him at the earliest practicable moment with a transcript of the journal of the Senate beginning with the morning of the 16th inst., and continuing to the adjournment on the 18th. He desires a transcript of the executive and secret sessions as well as of the open sessions.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Burton N. Harrison, Private Secretary.



  1. To compensate owners of the steamer "Phoenix," impressed by military authority, and sunk as an obstruction in Mobile harbor.
  2. *Stating that no intimation has been received by the Confederate Government of a willingness on the part of any State of the United States to go into convention with the States of the Confederacy for the purpose of negotiating a peace, or consulting on the best method of effecting a cessation of hostilities, or for any purpose whatever.
  3. This message was found badly mutilated, the words in brackets being supplied by the compiler.
  4. Page 466.
  5. For the schooner "Isabel," seized by military authority and sunk as an obstruction in Dog River bar channel, Mobile Bay, May 5, 1862.
  6. See page 544.
  7. See page 539.
  8. Page 482.
  9. Page 540.
  10. Page 395; see also page 498.
  11. Page 519.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Page 544.

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