North Carolina Voices

Desertion

"Whereas information has reached me that certain persons, unmindful of the calls of patriotism & forgetful of the duties of good citizens, are using their influence to prevent obedience to the law of Congress, known as the Conscription Law, and that others are attempting to organize an open resistance to its execution: whereas, such conduct, not only being in direct violation of law, but also detrimental in the highest degree to the cause of our country, it becomes my sacred duty to prevent & repress the same by all the means in my power."
  Gov. Zebulon B. Vance, from "A Proclamation," September 18, 1862. (Buy the Book)

"Allow me Governor in this connection to call your attention to a matter in which you certainly must be misunderstood although your orders on their face bear the interpretation which the officers gave to them. I found in Chatham, Randolph, and Davidson [counties] some fifty women in each county & some of them in delicate health and five advanced in pregnancy were rudely (in some instances) dragged from their homes & put under close guard & there left for some weeks. The consequence in some instances have been shocking. Women have been frightened into abortions almost under the eyes of their terrifiers. This matter has been called to the attention of Judge French and in his charges to the grand jury he forcibly and at length instructs them that all such proceedings are against the law, and that unless a magistrate first issues a warrant there is not and cannot be any authority for such arrests. I know that your Excellency never intended by any order to justify torture, & yet in many cases where the treatment has been equally as bad as it was in the Owens Case [whose wife was physically tortured], the officers boldly avow their conduct & say that they understand your orders to be a full justification I shall continue to prosecute all these cases for I am sure that many things are done in your Excellency's name which you do not now nor never did sanction."
  Judge Thomas Settle, to Gov. Zebulon Vance, October 4, 1864, describing abuse of women in the search for deserters from the Confederate army. (H. L. Carlson Papers).


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