Kenansville N.C. 25th Novr 1863.
His excellency Prest Davis, A perfect stranger presumes to address you in behalf of his Countrymen.
Some time during the past year, the Govr of this State ordered a detail of Patrol guard for this County, amounting to twenty men; and immediately thereafter, the Citizens made up a fund & purchased a pack of Hounds at heavy cost to accompany them; and I have no fears of contradiction, when I say they have been of great service in preventing escapes of Slaves, & also preventing desertions &c.
The Govr issued his order to the Col of the County, and he made his appointments under my advisement (as Chairn of Co. Ct) as also of other Citizens which he relied upon for Counsel: The appointment I think was a good one; and (by no means reflecting on our respectable troops in this County,) I must be pardoned for saying that the said Patrol have been “the ounce of preventive in place of the pound of Cure” We are here not far distant from the Yankee lines; and you well Know a good watch should be Kept. Since the organization of this Company, there has been no attempt of escapes by the Slaves but one, (save in the Raid in July) and the whole number of negroes (save one, & he was shot & killed near the Yankee lines) were Captured & returned to their owners through this Company. I have just heard, that the said Company has been disbanded, and the members of the Company conscripted. I hope it is not so. But if such be the order, I hope your Excellency will reverse the order, & commission the said Company to attend to their former duties. Ours is almost a defenceless section, and this Guard we consider a very valuable outpost. It secures us from escapes & deserters; and is also an important Courier establishment to the army; they quartering & manouvering on or near the line of separation &.c.
I repeat my request that your Excellency will continue the protection to this section by Continuing the Patrol Organization mentioned. With much respect &c. I have the honor to be Your Obet Servt &.c.
Hon Wm T. Dortch
" Geo. Davis
" O. R. Kenan
Jere Pearsall to Prest. Davis, 25 Nov. 1863, P-141 1863, Letters Received, series 12, Adjutant & Inspector General, War Department Collection of Confederate Records, Record Group 109, National Archives. In an endorsement dated December 17, 1863, Confederate Secretary of War James A. Seddon disapproved Pearsall's request: “I will not interfere as I can not conceive that a better use could be made of the men than by conscription to enhance the ranks of Veteran Companies.”
Published in The Destruction of Slavery, pp. 94–95, and in Free at Last, pp. 142–43.