Page:A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I.djvu/428

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Messages and Papers of the Confederacy.

can we hope to fathom it and reach the guilty emissaries and contrivers but by incompetent negro testimony? In some of the States civil process has been brought to bear with disastrous efficiency upon the Army. Every judge has the power to issue the writ of habeas corpus, and if one manifests more facility in discharging petitioners than his associates the application is made to him, however remote he may be. In one instance a general on the eve of an important movement, when every man was needed, was embarrassed by the command of a judge — more than two hundred miles distant — to bring if in his custody, or send if in custody of another, before him, on habeas corpus, some deserters who had been arrested and returned to his command. In another, the commandant of a camp of conscripts, who had a conscript in camp, was commanded to bring him before a judge more than a hundred miles distant, although there was a judge competent to hear and determine the cause resident in the place where the writ was executed. He consulted eminent counsel, and was advised that, from the known opinions of the judge selected, the conscript would undoubtedly be released, and the officer was therefore advised to discharge him at once, and return the facts informally; that such a return was not technically sufficient, but would be accepted as accomplishing the purpose of the writ. He acted on the advice of his counsel, and was immediately summoned by the judge to show cause why he should not be attached for a contempt in making an insufficient return, and was compelled to leave his command at a time when his services were pressingly needed by the Government and travel over a hundred miles and a considerable distance away from any railroad, to purge himself of the technical contempt. These particular instances may serve to show the nature of the delays, difficulties, and embarrassments which are constantly occurring. And injurious as they are, they are but light and trivial in comparison with evils which are reasonably to be anticipated.

It is understood that questions are to be multiplied as to the constitutionality of the late act of Congress placing in the military service those who had furnished substitutes. If a single judge, in any State, should hold the act to be unconstitutional, it is easy to foresee that that State will either furnish no soldiers from this class, or furnish them only when too late for the pressing need of the country. Every application will be made to that particular