State of North Carolina
Raleigh, Augt. 17th 1862.
Hon. Weldon N. Edwards
I embrace the first opportunity of replying to your letter received last night, inquiring, on behalf of the Sheriff of Warren Co. unto this legality of Gen. Hill's orde call for 1/4 of the slaves to go to Virginia to work on Fortifications.
Not having seen one of the calls referred; I don't know whether it is premptory [sic] order or impressment of these negroes or a mere appeal to the patriotism of the slave holders to send forward their negroes to a public emergency. But there is no Constitutional authority for such an exercise of power...and no statute of either State or Confederate Government to authorize; Consequently there is no penalty for a non-compliance with it - It is a species of martial law which looks to be the necessity the case for its adoption one relies upon its own means for its enforcement - And those officers who resist it are accountable to their superiors for their use and abuse of such extra-ordinary powers.
I should think that such orders are only entitled