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314 Southern Historical Society Papers.
practicable measure, and incapable of execution from the beginning. Judge Campbell, in the same letter to General Breckenridge from which I have been quoting, says: "I do not regard the slave popu- lation as a source from which an addition to the army can be suc- cessfully derived. If the use of slaves had been resorted to in the beginning of the war for service in the engineer corps, and as teamsters and laborers, it might have been judicious. Their employment since 1862 has been difficult, and latterly almost im- practicable. The attempt to collect 20,000 has been obstructed and nearly abortive. The enemy have raised almost as many from the fugitives occasioned by the draft as ourselves from its execution. General Holmes reports 1,500 fugitives in one week from North Carolina. Colonel Blount reported a desertion of 1,210 last sum- mer in Mobile; and Governor Clarke of Mississippi entreats the suspension of a call for them in that state. As a practicable meas- ure I cannot see how a slave force can be collected, armed, and equipped at the present time." I find in an abstract of some remarks I made on this bill in March, 1865, reported in the Exami- ner, that I said: "The commandant of conscripts, with authority to impress twenty thousand slaves between last September and the present time, (March 7, 1865,) had been able to get but 4,000, and of these 3,500 had been obtained from Virginia and North Carolina, and five hundred from Alabama."
To the passage of such a bill as this Mr. Davis saj's " my oppo- sition was a chief obstacle." That I did oppose it I neither deny nor repent. Indeed, I have been in the habit of considering the introduction of this bill in the Senate as a virtual termination of the war, though, doubtless, not so designed. But from that period I thinJs the Government lost the confidence of the country, and all hope of success was over; for we then virtually adopted the policy which we professed to fear from our adversaries, and dis- credited our country for sincerity and truthful dealing. But it was introduced without much previous notice, and I hold the Govern- ment, not the country, responsible for its adoption. As a military measure it fell still-born from the Government, and did not last long enough to produce the full measure of its probable mischiefs.
"A true-hearted Confederate," says Mr. Davis, "it might have been thought reasonably, instead of seeking to put the President in the attitude of renewing efforts for conference after previous