10, 1863, The
“What Does It Mean”
A class of journals, in the interest of the provisional State government, has recently assumed to brand certain loyal citizens of Missouri, who have united in a movement for the choice of State officers in the usual manner at the ballot-box, as "conspirators." The parties thus denounced are men who have an unquestionable right to vote, and have always been true to the Government They are opposed to the provisional government on the grounds of principle and policy; seek to exchange it for another in a perfectly loyal and constitutional mode, and for this purpose have publicly met and openly organized into a party to accomplish their aim by political action. For this they are charged with conspiracy against the government of which Hamilton R. Gamble is the head. A charge so remarkable would not certainly be made in the face of an intelligent community unless there is something underlying it not patent to the public eye. It is a fact, in the statement of which we think the people of Missouri at large will agree with us, that there are certain movements now on foot under the auspices of the present provisional government which are not understood by the masses. All, perhaps, have a general idea, and yet few, we imagine, fully understand, in its real dimensions, the singular circumstance that our present State government is silently and actively engaged in organizing, equipping, and arming a formidable standing army, and this without giving the public the least intimation of the fact in any public order, and, so far as we are advised, without warrant of law of any kind. Not the least remarkable thing about the movement is the means resorted to in order to secure the material of which this army is being composed. All have heard something about provisional regiments, but few understand exactly what is meant. For the enlightenment of all parties interested, it should be known that the provisional government is forming these regiments all over the State, making a formidable aggregate force, officering, arming, and equipping them as regular soldiers in the State service. The means chiefly resorted to, to collect the men composing them, is conscription. The men wanted as soldiers seem to be selected according to no fixed rule, and, if unwilling to enter the service, are forced into it at the point of the bayonet. Under what law, State or National, this is done we know not, as we have been unable to find any, and the best of lawyers to whom we have applied have been unable to inform us of any. It is proper to add that the men thus conscripted are usually taken from the ranks of the Enrolled Militia, at the pleasure, we believe, of officers in command; are then armed and equipped with munitions furnished by the General Government to supply the Enrolled Militia, and are then officered by such persons as the State government sees fit to place over them. It thus happens that the men have no choice in becoming soldiers, nor in selecting the officers who shall command them after they are soldiers.
Now, a proceeding of so remarkable a character to be going on in our midst may well elicit inquiry. It may be thought, and an impression of that kind has doubtless to some extent prevailed, that this is merely a perfecting of the Enrolled Militia system. Such, however, is not the case. The provisional regiments and the Enrolled Militia differ most essentially. It will be recollected that, under the orders under which the Enrolled Militia was organized, the citizens' were assured there was no disposition to interfere with their regular pursuits beyond the service required in the protection of their homes. It was, furthermore, given out that, the enrollment being general, the burden of any service required would come equally upon all. So far from this being the case with the provisional regiments, they are organized with a view to constant, active service, and their members are selected out from among the mass of citizens equally liable, and specially assigned to duty. We never understood that there existed any other authority for the creation of the Enrolled Militia than the dictum of the commanding general, but the fact of its uniform operation prevented it from becoming the subject of serious complaint.
What the legal status of these regiments will be when organized becomes an interesting question. They are not United States troops, and can draw no pay from the General Government, nor do we know of any law which recognizes them as State troops. It is given out, we believe---it is the talk in certain circles--that the Legislature is expected next winter, by an act then to be passed, to legalize the organization of these regiments and the proceedings which have led to their formation. This may, possibly, account for the somewhat singular circumstance that not one of these regiments, so far as we can learn, has been organized without including some member of the present State senate or house of representatives among its officers. It is perfectly safe to say that, unless the Legislature hereafter does something in the premises, such as we have stated, not an officer or man in one of these regiments will ever get one cent of pay for his services, which must, in any event, come out of the treasury, or rather be predicated upon the credit of the State. Now, in view of this extraordinary proceeding, conducted with so much secrecy and cunning, we hold that the people of Missouri have a right to inquire, what does it mean? They have a right to ask under what law, warrant, or authority is this thing being done--what is the object in view--and they should insist upon clear, full, and unequivocal answers being given. We think we know what will be the answer as to the object of these organizations. It will be stated to be the defense of Union men against guerrillas and other rebels. But if our State authorities are so anxious to protect Union men, we ask why they have exerted themselves so actively, as the fact is, to have the regular volunteer troops of the United States, who were sent here for that very purpose, removed from the State, and who were paid by the United States, thus imposing the duty and the danger upon citizens of Missouri, to be performed without pay, or the pay to come out of their own pockets.
As to the law of the case, we understand the statute passed by the Claib. Jackson Legislature, under which such gatherings as Camp Jackson were organized, is understood to be still in force; but this only provides for the organization of a volunteer militia, while it is well known that but few members of the provisional regiments have volunteered. They have generally been detailed or conscripted, and without a resort to this process of enlistment not one of these regiments could have been formed.
Connected with this subject are several things of striking significance to be considered. One is the name of these regiments-- Provisional--the same as the distinctive name of the present State government, carrying the idea, by implication, that they belong especially to it; another is the manner in which they are officered. Friends--we might, in many instances, say creatures--of the provisional government are alone put in command. Then, in connection with these facts, showing that this military force is thus being sought to be made utterly subservient to the provisional government, we have the fact, first stated by us, that the organs of this government charge all who seek to oust this government, in the legal and usual mode of the ballot-box, with being "conspirators;" that is, men who are seeking to do a thing which will not be allowed, but will be forcibly resisted. When we consider, further, that the provisional government was not created in the legal and usual mode of the ballot-box; that it was, at least in the form of its origin, usurpatory; that it has already perpetuated itself long beyond the time for which it was at first understood to be created, and is to-day holding power with a grave question hanging over it, whether its existence is not in defiance of the constitution of the State, the things we have suggested are certainly worthy of being considered, not in excitement and passion, but calmly and solemnly.
The committee appointed by the late People's Convention at Jefferson City to visit Washington, in addition to its other duties, should learn of the President whether he has given the provisional government of Missouri any authority or sanction for the creation of the army alluded to. In addition to this, it becomes the solemn duty of every citizen of Missouri at once to inquire, What does it mean?
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