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Confederate Congress.


Senate

Monday, February 20, 1865.
Prayer by the Rev. Dr. Peterkin, of the Episcopal Church.

Mr. Garland, of Arkansas, introduced a joint resolution to provide for the appointment of a disbursing clerk of the War Department. Referred to the Finance Committee.

Mr. Semmes, of Louisiana, introduced a bill to authorize the Secretary of the Treasury to provide that certificates of indebtedness, issued under the currency law, shall be receivable for taxes. Referred to the Finance Committee.

Senate bill to provide for the enrollment of reserves who are refugees from their homes was considered and passed.

House bill making appropriations to defray the expenses of Government from the 1st of January, 1865, to 1st June, 1865, , was considered, and passed with slight amendments.

Senate bill to abolish the office of all officers engaged in discharging the duties of provost- marshals, except within the lines of an army in the field, was considered and passed.

Joint resolution for the relief of the legal representatives of John R. Cardwell, whose negro, William Henry was impressed, with the Columbian Hotel omnibus, and sent to the battle-field of Seven Pines to bring off the wounded, was considered and passed.

Senate bill to amend the law providing tobacco for the army was considered and rejected.

Mr. Henry, of Tennessee, introduced a bill changing the time of the regular meeting of Congress from the first Monday of December to the first Monday in October. Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.


House of Representatives.

The House met at the usual hour, and was opened with prayer by the Rev. Dr. Peterkin.

Senate bill to authorize the Secretary of War to negotiate with the Governors of the States for slave labor was referred to the Committee on Military Affairs.

Senate amendments to the Senate bill, as amended by the House, to regulate, for a limited period, the salaries of certain civil employees of the Government, were concurred in.

Mr. Blandford, of Georgia, under a suspension of the rules, introduced a resolution limiting debate during the remainder of the session to a single speech of ten minutes in length on the part of each member. The resolution was passed.

Mr. Bell, of Georgia, was granted leave of absence on account of indisposition, caused by an old wound.

Mr. Lyon, of Alabama, from the Committee on Ways and Means, introduced a bill authorizing the Secretary other Treasury to receive in payment of public dues, except export and import duties, all certificates of indebtedness hereafter to be issued, and to make such regulations for the transfer of the same as may be necessary to increase their currency or credit. The bill was passed.

The House then resumed the consideration of the unfinished business, being the Senate bill to regulate conscription.

Mr. Rogers, of Florida, spoke in favor of the bill prepared by himself, and offered as a substitute for the Senate bill by a minority of the Special Committee on Conscription.

The question being ordered, the minority substitute was rejected and the bill passed — years, 50, nays, 13.

The bill, as passed, is as follows:


"a bill to regulate the business of Conscription.

  1. "section 1. the Congress of the Confederate States of America do enact, that the General officers commanding the reserves in each State shall be charged with the duty of directing and controlling the enforcement of the laws relating to conscription, exemptions and details therein; that the said officers shall report to the Secretary of War, through the Adjutant and Inspector-General, who shall assign an assistant Adjutant-General in his office to the special duty of receiving and arranging all returns and discharging such other duties as may be necessary in the enforcement of the conscription acts.
  2. "section 2. all applications for exemption and detail, except as hereinafter provided, shall be decided by the General officers having charge of the business of conscription in the several States. Appeals may be taken from their decisions to the Secretary of War, but during the pendency of such Appeals the appellants shall be liable to military service.
  3. "section 3. there shall be assigned from the Invalid corps, or from officers certified by the proper medical boards to be unfit for active service in the field, a sufficient number of enrolling officers, who shall report to, and be under the immediate direction and control of, the General officers conducting the business of conscription in the several States.
  4. "section 4. all conscripts shall be examined by the medical boards of the army after joining the commands in the field to which they may be respectively assigned, and every discharge granted by an army medical board shall be final, and shall relieve the party from all military service in the future, when the disability is permanent and the cause of it is set forth in the certificate of discharge.
  5. "section 5. if any conscript shall furnish to the enrolling officer of his county a certificate, under oath, from a respectable physician or from an army surgeon, that he is unable to travel to the command to which he may be assigned without serious prejudice to his health, or that he is seriously maimed or manifestly unfit for field service, or shall present to such enrolling officer a certificate of discharge, on account of permanent disability, heretofore granted, a furlough shall be granted to him until the next meeting of the medical board, hereinafter provided for.
  6. "section 6. there shall be assigned to each congressional district a medical board, consisting of three surgeons, two of whom shall be army surgeons, who, after due notice of the time and place of their meeting, shall visit each county of the district at least once in three month, and shall for discharge or recommendation for light duty, all conscripts who have been furloughed under the positions of the proceeding section. Every discharge granted by the said medical board shall be final, and shall relieve the party from all military service in the future, when the disability is permanent and the cause of it is act forth in the certificate.
  7. "section 7. it shall be the duty of all officers and others employed in the military service of the Confederate States, and not actually in field, nor attached to any army in the field, including quartermasters and commissaries, commanders of posts, provost-marshals, officers of the ordnance, nitre and mining and medical bureaus, and others, to make certified monthly returns, to the nearest conscript officer, of the names, ages and physical condition of all persons employed in their service, which returns shall be forwarded to the General officer controlling conscription in the State.
  8. "section 8. for the enforcement of the duties imposed by this act upon the General officers controlling conscription in the several States, such detachments of the reserve forces as they may deem necessary shall be placed at their disposal.
  9. "section 9. the bureau of conscription and the camps of instruction are hereby abolished, and all rules and regulations of the War Department inconsistent with this act are hereby repealed."
under a suspension of the rules, Mr. Perkins, of Louisiana, from the Committee on Foreign Affairs, offered the following:

‘ "Whereas, the Congress of the Confederate States have ever been desirous of an honorable and a permanent settlement, by negotiation, of all matters of difference between the people of the Confederate States of America and the Government of the United States; and to this end provided, immediately on its assembling at Montgomery, in February, 1861, for the sending of three commissioners to Washington to negotiate friendly relations on all questions of disagreement between the two Governments on principles of right, justice, equity and good faith; and whereas, these having been refused a reception, Congress again, on the 14th of June, 1864, adopted and published a manifesto to the civilized world declaring its continued desire to settle, without further shedding of blood, upon honorable terms, all questions at issue between the people of the Confederate States and those of the United States, to which the only response received from the Congress of the United States has been the voting down, by large majorities, all resolutions proposing an amicable settlement of existing difficulties; and whereas, the President has communicated to this House that, in the same spirit of conciliation and peace, he recently sent Vice-President Stephens, Senator Hunter and Judge Campbell to hold conference with such persons as the Government of the United States might designate to meet them; and whereas, those eminent citizens, after a full conference with President Lincoln and Secretary Seward, have reported that they were informed explicitly that the authorities of the United States would hold no negotiation with the Confederate States, or any of them separately; that no terms except such as a conqueror grants to the subjugated would be extended to the people of these States, and that the subversion of our institutions and the complete submission to their rule was the only condition of peace; therefore.

"Resolved, by the Congress of the Confederate States of America, that while Congress regrets that no alternative is left the people of the Confederate States but a continuance of the War, or submission to terms of peace alike ruinous and dishonorable, it accepts, in their behalf, the issue tendered them by the authorities of the United States Government, and solemnly declare that it is their unalterable determination to prosecute the War with the United States until that power shall desist from its efforts to subjugate them, and the independence of the Confederate States shall have been established.

"Resolved, that the Congress has received with pride the numerous noble and patriotic resolutions passed by the army, and in the gallant and unconquered spirit which they breathe, coming from those who have for years endured dangers and privations, it sees unmistakable evidence that the enthusiasm with which they first dedicated their lives to the defence of their country is not yet extinct, but has been confirmed, by hardships and suffering, into a principle of resistance to Northern rule that will hold in contempt all disgraceful terms of submission; and for these expressions in camp, as well as for their noble acts in the field, our soldiers deserve, and will receive, the thanks of the country.

"Resolved, that the Congress invites the people of these States to assemble in public meeting and renew their vows of devotion to the cause of independence; to declare their determination to maintain their liberties; to pledge themselves to do all in their power to fill the ranks of our army; to provide for the support of the families of our soldiers; and to cheer and comfort, by every means, the gallant men who, for years, through trials and dangers, have vindicated their rights on the battle-field.

"Resolved, that confidence in the justice of our cause (Aided and sustained by the God of Battles), in the valor and endurance of our soldiers, and in the deep and ardent devotion of our people to the great principles of civil and political liberty for which we are contending, Congress pledges itself to the passage of the most energetic measures to secure our ultimate success."

Mr. Gilmer, of North Carolina moved to amend by adding the following:

"Resolved, further, that, notwithstanding this, we believe the Confederate States would consent and agree to the following:

  1. "1st. That there be a separation between the United States of America and the Confederate States of America, each one perfectly free and independent of the other, the rights of navigation, trade, transit, &c., properly and fairly agreed on and settled.
  2. "2d. That an American Diet be created, to which each party shall be at liberty to send delegates, each being its own judge as to the number and manner of election, and each party paying its own expenses.
  3. "3d. The privileges of this Diet to be clearly and definitely defined and settled.
  4. "4th. In this Diet there shall be but two votes, one by the delegates of the United States of America and one by the delegates of the Confederate States of America; and the acts of this body to be binding on the parties only when ratified by the House, Senate, and President of each.
  5. "5th. In settling the boundary, let the States of Kentucky and Missouri determine for themselves, by a free and fair vote of the people, bona fide residents in these respective States at the commencement of hostilities."
’ The morning hour having expired, the House resolved into secret session.

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