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Martial law.

--Yesterday morning Napoleon Burke and John S. Hammond, two of the Provost Marshal's detectives, were before the May or to answer the charge of assaulting Michael Walls, contrary to law. The facts in the case are these: Under order of the Provost Marshal, the detectives are required to seize all ardent spirits brought to the city without written permission of the Marshal. On the morning in question these detective ascertained that Walls had received three barrels of liquor, and suspecting it to be contraband, repaired to his store to seize it. When about to seize the liquor found in Walls's house an altercation sprang up between W and Hammond, W. giving H. the file. H. immediately seized W. and took him off to the Provost Marshal, Burke merely preventing Mrs. W. from interfering in the arrest of her husband. As these officers hold their commissions as Confederate detectives, and claim to act under martial law, the Mayor contends that martial law is unconstitutional, and that therefore their acts are illegal, and the arrest made by them no less than "assault and battery, " for which they are subject to indictment by the Grand Jury.

P. H. Aylett, Esq., C. S. District Attorney, appeared in Court, at the invitation of the Mayor, but declined submitting any argument on the constitutionality of "Martial Law" before that Court. The parties were arraigned for assault and battery, and if they should be sent on to a higher Court the question might there be argued; but, with all his respect for the Mayor, he did not deem it essential to discuss before him the right of the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, in war times like these, to exercise martial law. Military law, his Honor knew, was right and proper. It was clearly laid down in the law books, and its constitutionality could not be questioned.--Not so with martial law. No clause in the Constitution prescribed it, no book laid it down as law; and yet it has been exercised from time immemorial, and must continue to be exercised in war times. Custom has given the Commander in-Chief the right, which has been exercised under peculiar circumstances.

The Mayor desired to see the law under which this power was exercised. He wished to be informed as to its legality.

Mr. Aylett declined offering any argument or authorities, but contented himself with reading the commissions of the parties charged, and the orders under which the Provost Marshal and his detectives seized liquors and persons.

The Mayor had hoped that all the light in the power of the Government would have been afforded; but it had decided otherwise, and he must submit. Cases of similar import are obliged to arise here, and if the Government declined to furnish light he should act on the best lights before him. He could see no reason for the declaration of martial law, and he denied the power of any official however high, to carry in his breast a law which would override the Constitution, set aside the privilege of habeas corpus, and deprive private citizens of their rights to trial by jury. There was no such authority in the Constitution.--No man could upturn the Constitution and the laws of the State by proclamation. No man, under the tenth section of the Bill of Rights, had the right to enter another's house and drag him therefrom without first obtaining a warrant. He was glad to hear that the case, if sent on, would be fully argued in another Court.

The Mayor then referred to the acts of some of the detectives when martial law was first proclaimed. He particularized the case of Theodore Whitman, who was dragged from his house under martial law for selling liquor, and thrown into prison. Whitman was afterwards carried before Judge Lyons on a writ of habeas corpus, and after a hearing discharged, the Judge being unable to discover any authority for the establishment of martial law. On this decision the officials threatened an appeal to a higher tribunal, and the record was prepared, but thus far it has not been taken.

The Mayor next alluded to the complaints made by Government officials of the city police interfering with the Provost detectives in the discharge of their duty. He had always directed his officers not to interfere with the detectives in the discharge of their duty, and was sure they had not done so. On inquiry — for he intended to keep in the city employ no longer any officer who had violated his orders — he ascertained that the complaint are in this wise. Some detectives or guards, with a deserter in charge, had their prisoner to escape from them in the night time, and fired their muskets at him as he fled through the streets.--Some of the watchmen being night, arrested the party by whom the musket was fired, and they did right. It were better that a deserter should escape than an innocent party should be killed. Two negroes were killed in the streets for attempting to escape the guards, and innocent parties might have been shot down at any moment but for a complaint mode to Gen. Winder, and an order issued by that General, which put an end to street shooting.

The Mayor then reviewed the conduct of some of the detectives towards his police, and complained that they had been derelict in duty, as well as had men and officers. Without calling nacres, he stated that one of these detectives had interfered with his police, and attempted to prevent them from making arrests. When the facts were made known to him, be issued a warrant for the arrest of that party, and that warrant was served upon the accused in a brothel. Another, finding that warrants had been issued for the arrest of certain parties, preceded his officers, and gave the inmates of the houses notices that the Mayor's warrant was coming. Another, Rosvalley, had obtained $1,100 from one party under false pretences, and had been the means of having arrested a number of respectable citizens, by making oath that they were disloyal. Another had the audacity to apply at a respectable hotel for lodgings for a common harlot, where she was to be associated with respectable ladies. Others, for driving about the streets in carriages and buggies with lewd women, to the scandal of the community; others for being in a small house, of two rooms, where a murder was committed, without their being able to arrest or discover the murderer; and others, for dogging about the streets a respectable gentleman from North Carolina, following him into a bar-room, and there arresting and dragging him before the Provost Marshal, for offering to pass city of Richmond notes, which they choose to pronounce bogus. As the head of the police, he was responsible for the morals of the city, and would enforce its ordinances and the laws of the State. He would not permit the detectives to interfere with his police in the discharge of their duty. He would not permit them to obtain money by false pretences and escape punishment. He would not permit them to take harlots into respectable boarding-houses, there to be associated with decent persons; nor would he allow them to ride about the streets with lewd women, to insult ladies and to outrage morality. He would not permit them to dog respectable citizens about and arrest them for passing city notes. With the laws of the State and the ordinances of the city the detectives have nothing to do, and should not interfere with them. Let them attend to the Confederate laws, and they will have enough to do.

The Mayor believed that if that worthy patriot and estimable Christian gentleman, President Davis, knew of the abuses by these detectives, he would have them reformed at once. For himself, believing martial law to be unconstitutional, and the act with which the parties are charged to be in violation of the laws of the State, he should be compelled to send the parties on to the Grand Jury.

Mr. Aylett thought the Mayor's Phillipe about the detectives entirely foreign to the question at issue. He was not there to inquire into the personnel or morale of the detectives. If any of them have been guilty of murder, bribery, or other crimes, the Mayor had certainly been derelict in not punishing them.

The Mayor admitted his dereliction, but gave as a reason for it his desire to prevent a conflict with the Government officials at that time. He desired the detectives to know his opinions and his future course of action, and trusted that the Government officials would clearly understand him.

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