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[424] in the contest. But after the Confederate currency had become almost worthless-when a soldier's month's pay would scarcely buy one meal for his family-and that was the case in all the last period of ten or twelve months-those soldiers of the laboring class who had families were compelled to choose between their military service and the strongest obligations men know --their duties to wives and children. They obeyed the strongest of those obligations, left the army, and returned to their homes to support their families.

The wretched impressment laws deprived the army of many valuable men of a class less poor than that just referred to. Those laws required the impressment of all articles of military necessity that could not be purchased. The Government had the power of regulating the prices to be paid by it for all such commodities; and its commissioners appointed for the purpose fixed them much below the market values. No one would sell to the Government, of course, when he could get from his neighbors twice the government price for his horses or grain; consequently the officers of the Government could never purchase, but had always to procure supplies by impressment. No rules for their guidance were prescribed; none at least that were observed by them or known to the public, and they were subjected to no supervision. All the property of Confederate citizens applicable to military purposes was, therefore, under their absolute control. The bad and indifferent officers impressed what they were called upon to furnish, in the manner least inconvenient to themselves, usually on the nearest plantations or farms, or those where opposition was not to be apprehended.

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