222 Southern Historical Society Papers.
of bearing arms were enrolled, it will give us the boys below 18, the men above 45, and those persons who are left at home to meet the wants of the country and the army; but this modification of the exemption law will remove from the fields and manufactories most of the skill that directed agricultural and mechanical labor, and, as stated by the President, "details will have to be made to meet the wants of the country," thus sending many of the men to be derived from this source back to their homes again. Independently of this, experience proves that striplings and men above 'conscript age break down and swell the sick lists more than they do the ranks. The portion now in our lines of the class who have substitutes is not, on the whole, a hopeful element, for the motives that created it must have been stronger than patriotism, and these motives, added to what many of them will call breach of faith, will cause some to be not forthcoming and others to be unwilling and discontented soldiers.
The remaining sources mentioned by the President have been so closely pruned in the army of Tennessee that they will be found not to yield largely. The supply from all these sources, together with what we now have in the field, will exhaust the white race, and though it should greatly exceed expectations and put us on an equality with the enemy, or even give us temporary advantages, still we have no reserve to meet unexpected disaster or to supply a pro- tracted struggle. Like past years, 1864 will diminish our ranks by the casualties of war, and what source of repair is there left us ? We, therefore, see in the recommendations of the President only a temporary expedient, which at the best will leave us twelve months hence in the same predicament we are in now. The President at- tempts to meet only one of the depressing causes mentioned; for the other two he has proposed no remedy. They remain to generate lack of confidence in our final success, and to keep us mov- ing down hill as heretofore.
Adequately to meet the causes which are now threatening ruin to our country, we propose, in addition to a modification of the Presi- dent's plans, that we retain in service for the war all troops now in service, and that we immediately commence training a large reserve of the most courageous of our slaves; and further, that we guarantee freedom within a reasonable time to every slave in the South who shall remain true to the Confederacy in this war.
SLAVERY OR Loss OF SLAVES. As between the loss of independence and the loss of slavery, we