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This Day in Georgia Civil War History

March 09, 1865

Brown Letter to General Assembly, Unhappy with Confederate Authorities

Georgia Governor Joseph E. Brown sent the following letter to the General Assembly; clearly he was still unhappy with Confederate authorities.

To the General Assembly: While my mind has undergone no change as to the propriety of calling a convention of the people of this State, for the purposes specified in my message of 15th ultimo, which I am satisfied the people will require in future, and which I fear they may imperatively demand, at a time less favorable to calm deliberation in the selection of Delegates, of known patriotism and loyalty to our cause, and when less could be accomplished by its deliberations, I do not pretend to call into question, the integrity or patriotism of the majority of the members of the General Assembly, who have refused to adopt my suggestions upon this subject. The difference of opinion is doubtless an honest one, and I am content that the question, who is right? shall be answered by the developments of the future and the decision of the people, whom I am willing to trust with the management of their own affairs, and whose judgment, when pronounced, I am prepared to abide. In the mean time, it affords me much gratification to find, that the General Assembly concurs with me, so far as I can judge from the action of the body, and the expressions of members, upon almost every other recommendation and statement, contained in the message, in reference to our Confederate relations. While we may differ upon the question of the expediency of holding a convention at the present time, as the best corrective for abuses, which are admitted by all to exist, it is the duty of every patriot, to do all in his power to fill up, strengthen and sustain, our gallant armies in the field, and to provide for the comfort of the families of our troops, while in active service. I have repeatedly ordered the civil and military officers, of this State, with the police force in each county, to aid in the arrest and return, of deserters and stragglers to their commands. But a short time since, several hundred were arrested and sent forward under my orders, in a single week. I find however, that the civil officers of this State, who are by the statute exempt from military service, have responded too tardily to calls made upon them, to discharge this important duty. I therefore recommend the adoption of a resolution, by this General Assembly, requiring all civil officers in this State, created by statute, to discharge this duty faithfully and promptly, and withdrawing from such as fail or refuse, all protection against Confederate or State military service. No class of persons can do more to rid their respective counties, of deserters and stragglers, than the civil officers, and they should be required to do this duty, or to take, in the field, the places of those who, by their neglect, are permitted to avoid the discharge of duty, in this crisis of our fate. I cannot refrain, before closing this communication, from congratulating the General Assembly, the country, and the army, upon the reported restoration of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, to the command of which he was so unwisely deprived, at a most unfortunate period. This act of justice to him and the country, has been too long delayed, after it was demanded by the necessities of the service, by the army, the Congress, and the whole people. Yielding reluctantly, it seems, to a demand, which could no longer be resisted, the President has, as the public press informs us, again placed him at the head of the remnant of an army, which was once raised by him, from a condition of demoralization, to a high state of efficiency. While he assumes the responsibility, with the devotion of a self-sacrificing patriot, under circumstances of a most trying character, the drooping spirits of the people are revived, and their hopes re-animated by his return to the the field. It is believed that thousands of his old companions in arms, who are now absent, will again rally around his standard, and clinging the more closely to him, on account of the injustice which has been been done him, will confront the enemy with renewed energy and determination. Let the Conscript Act be repealed, as you have wisely resolved it should be, let us return to the principles upon which we entered the contest, and let the whole country, with the spirit of freedom, which animated them in 1861, rally around our glorious leaders, Lee, Johnston, and Beauregard, who should be untrammelled by Presidential interference in the management of military campaigns, and we shall again triumph in battle, and roll back the dark cloud of despondency, which has so long darkened our horizon, and blighted our hopes. Georgia has done her whole duty, from the commencement of the struggle. She has furnished more than her quota of troops, clothed them when naked in Confederate service, and provided subsistence for their families at home. Official reports show, that she has lost more men, and paid more tax, than any State in the Confederacy. However much she may be misrepresented, and the motives of those who have conducted her counsels, and administered her Government, may be maligned, by artful and designing politicians, both she, and her public servants, may proudly point to the sacrifices made, and the results achieved, as the highest evidence of loyalty to the cause. I now appeal, doubtless, with your concurrence, to Georgians, at home and in the field, while they demand the correction of abuses, and maintain in sunshine and in shade, the old land marks of State Sovereignty and republican liberty, against foes without and within, never to permit her proud banner to trail in the dust, nor the cause to suffer, on account of their failure to strike, with heroic valor, in the thickest of the fight, till freedom is won and Constitutional liberty firmly established. JOSEPH E. BROWN. Source: Journal of the Senate of the Extra Session of the General Assembly, of the State of Georgia, Convened by Proclamation of the Governor, at Macon, February 15th, 1865: Electronic Edition.