Page:A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I.djvu/274

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Messages and Papers of the Confederacy.

Executive Office,
Sept. 9, 1862.

To the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

I herewith transmit to your honorable body letters from the Secretary of War and Secretary of the Navy in response to the resolution requesting information as to whether the requisitions of the Heads of Bureaus on the Treasury have been promptly met, and if not, the reasons for the delay.

Jefferson Davis.

Richmond, Va., September 11, 1862.

To the Senate and House of Representatives.

The circumstances necessarily surrounding an army operating in the presence of an enemy render it inexpedient — next to impossible — to assemble frequent courts-martial, and to detail for them the best officers of the Army. The ordinary attendant of the circumstances referred to is frequent offenses against military discipline and trespass upon the property of individuals inhabiting the country.

To correct these evils, it is believed to be desirable that Congress should give authority to institute a commission to attend each army in the field, to be composed of men whose character and knowledge of the modes of administering justice would give the best assurance for the punishment of crime, the protection of private rights, and the security of the citizens of the country occupied by the enemy. Could courts-martial be assembled as frequently as occasion required, their functions under existing laws being limited to the consideration of offenses defined by the Rules and Articles of War, it will be perceived that a great variety of outrages against private rights might be committed of which a court-martial could not directly take cognizance. Under ordinary circumstances offenders in such cases would be turned over to the civil courts for trial. In a foreign country, or where the courts cannot hold their sessions, this is impossible, and in the case of a marching army would, for obvious reasons, be ineffectual. The witnesses whose testimony is indispensable to conviction would generally follow the march of the army and be out of the reach of the courts.

The powers delegated by the Constitution "to make rules for