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From Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, series 1, volume 18, pp. 821-822

State of North Carolina

Executive Department

Raleigh, N.C., January 5, 1863


Hon. James A. Seddon,

Secretary of War:


Sir: I beg to trouble you in regard to a matter of great importance to the army–the increase of desertion. In most of the midland and lowland counties of this State I shall be able to make arrests and prevent serious combinations of them by means of the local militia, with the occasional assistance of the regiment of conscripts at this place, but in the mountains of the west the case is different. The enforcement of the conscript law in East Tennessee has filled the mountains with disaffected desperadoes of the worst character, who, joining with the deserters from our army, form very formidable bands of outlaws, who hide in the fastnesses, waylay the passes, rob, steal, and destroy at pleasure. The evil has become so great that travel has been almost suspended through the mountains. The militia has become too feeble to resist them, as that section has turned out its proportion for the war with the greatest patriotism [page 822] and unanimity. I propose to organize about 200 men, put them under the command of experienced officers, arm and equip them at State expense, if the President will accept them into Confederate service and pay them only when actually engaged. I hope the Department will accede to the proposition. The impunity which the deserters enjoy and the contagion of their example is operating most ruinously upon the efficiency of the army, to say nothing of the injury to property and citizens of that section. I am now maturing a vigilant system of general police for the whole State for the prompt arrest of deserters and conscripts, which my adjutant general will submit for your approval soon and perhaps ask your assistance. I also intend to urge upon our Legislature, soon to reassemble, the passage of a laws disfranchising all who illegally avoid their duty in the public defense.


I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

Z.B. Vance

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