November 25, 1863 Issue of the WEEKLY STANDARD (Raleigh, North Carolina)
   Transcribed and Posted by Myrtle Bridges March 02, 2003

We published in our last the resolutions introduced by Mr. McKay, of Harnett, denouncing the conduct of a 
squad of Confederate troops in burning a house in that County, and requesting the Governor to call out any 
portion of the military force of the State to prevent such wanton and lawless destruction of property. There 
resolutions passed the Commons by a vote of 72 to 21. It seems that this squad of soldiers required the wife 
of a deserter to tell where her husband was, and because she refused to do so, or, not knowing, could not tell, 
they set fire to her house and burnt it to the ground. We learn that Gov. Vance has very promptly and properly 
had these soldiers arrested, and we suppose they will be held to answer for their conduct. In the course of the 
debate on the subject Dr. McCormick, of Harnett, said that the proof of this wanton destruction of property was 
ample, and he urged the house to take prompt action, so as to warn evil doers against such conduct. He said he 
was determined to insist at all hazards on the rights guaranteed to his constituents by the Bill of Rights, and 
to see to it, so far as his action was concerned, that those rights were not trampled on with impunity. He said 
he had it from good authority that preparations had been made to burn the house of another citizen of his county, 
thus showing a disposition to make these outrages more general.
	Dr. McCormick and Mr. McKay deserve the thanks of their constituents for the firm and determined manner in 
which they have asserted their rights.
	No citizen is disposed to obstruct or embarrass the military authorities in their efforts to arrest deserters. 
But nothing will justify the destruction of property, whether belonging to the innocent or the guilty. It is the 
business of the officers who command our troops to protect, not to harass and oppress the people. No deserter, 
unless in the act of resisting, should be shot without a trial; and the families of deserters ought not to be 
punished on account of the guilt of the deserters. But we have heard, and fear it is true, that horses have 
been taken from the plow, provisions seized and carried away, and even the fathers and mothers of deserters 
roped around the neck and hung up until life was in jeopardy, because they could not or would not tell where 
the deserter was. We have heard also that these cruelties, together with the arrest of citizens on the charge 
of disloyalty because they had attended public meetings, have depressed and alarmed the people in many localities 
in the western part of this State, insomuch that they were deterred from going to the polls and exercising the 
right of suffrage at the late elections; while the domestic detectives-certain Destructives-who are regarded 
by certain officers as the only true men, and who are swift to give false information against their Conservative 
neighbors, went to the polls with their heads up, and voted. We repeat, deserters must be arrested and sent 
to their regiments, and all proper steps to this end should be sanctioned and commended; but no military officer 
has a right to order the destruction of property, or the personal punishment of a citizen, or even the arrest 
of a citizen without civil process, or the death of a deserter without trial, unless the deserter is in a state 
of resistance or rebellion. This is a government of Christian people, upheld by reason and based on LAW; and 
every wanton, cruel, illegal, unconstitutional act by the military, tends to array our people against the government. 
It is the interest as well as the duty of military officers to act in such a way as to make the people love, 
not hate the government. If they love it, they will die for it if necessary; but if they hate it, it will 
perish, and with it our independence.
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