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[97] advanced northward along the Pasquotank river. With three companies of his regiment and a battery, Wright selected an advantageous position, and finding a deep, wide ditch in his front, adopted the novel expedient of filling it with fence rails and burning them to make the ditch impassable, or at least not available as an intrenchment. Before the enemy arrived Wright was reinforced by seven companies, and he made a gallant fight, inspiring his men by his personal heroism. Though he finally withdrew from the field, he so effectually crippled the enemy that the latter also abandoned his advance and retreated to his boats. The numbers engaged of the enemy were far in excess of those under command of the Georgia colonel, and there afterward arose an interesting dispute among the Federal commanders as to who was most responsible for the lively scramble to the rear.

This period in the history of the Confederacy, signalized by almost unalleviated disaster, both inland and on the coast, is also memorable as the date when the conscription act was put in effect, in accordance with the recommendation of President Davis. The constitutionality of this act was discussed in a correspondence between Governor Brown and President Davis, including seven letters, in which the measure was defended by the president and assailed by the governor. In his second letter President Davis said to Governor Brown:

I take great pleasure in recognizing that the history of the past year affords the amplest justification for your assertion that if the question had been whether the conscription law was necessary to raise men in Georgia, the answer must have been in the negative. Your noble State has promptly responded to every call that it has been my duty to make on her; and to you personally, as her executive, I acknowledge my indebtedness for the prompt, cordial and effective co-operation you have afforded me in the effort to defend our common country against the common enemy.

In December, 1861, the general assembly had authorized

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