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[484]

The opinion of Mr. Bates appears to have settled the question. The colored troops and colored chaplains were placed on an equality with whites, and received the same pay.

Growing out of the draft were many questions of a legal nature, which could not be brought before the courts for decision, but were decided in a summary manner, according to military rule, by the United-States military officers, acting as provost and assistant provost marshals in the Commonwealth.

In several cases of enlistments, where the writ of habeas corpus was issued, the parties were brought before the court, in which Major Charles F. Blake, Provost-Marshal-General of the Commonwealth, appeared for the Government; but, under the conscription law, new questions arose, upon which a judicial opinion could not be obtained for the reasons we have stated.

In the opinion of the Governor, it was important that these questions should receive a judicial interpretation. On July 17, he sent Major Blake to Washington to confer with the Secretary of War upon these matters. He carried with him a letter from the Governor to Mr. Stanton, in which he said he deemed it of the highest importance that the principal legal questions which had arisen under the conscription law should be brought to a judicial test at the earliest day.

‘And I do not know any tribunal,’ he said, ‘before which they can be more promptly raised, or more intelligently argued, or by which they can be more impartially adjudicated than the Supreme Court of this Commonwealth, which is, I believe, a court as little impressible by outside influences as any tribunal in existence.’

The Governor further recommended, that the questions be decided immediately, and that the United States District Attorney, or some other counsel, should be instructed to represent the United States in all such cases. We are not aware that any action was taken by the Secretary in the matter.

On the 18th of July, the Governor telegraphed to Mr. Stanton to authorize him to enlist Massachusetts conscripted men as volunteers, which would enable him to pay them the State bounty of fifty dollars each, which they, as mere conscripts, could not legally receive.

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