Garmonís Mills P. O.
Sept. 26, 1863
To his excellency Gov. Vance,
By my father's family record, I shall be forty-six years of age on the 20th of March next. I have a wife and four little children, the oldest only ten years of age, and an aged aunt dependent upon me for a support; and have been forced under fear of death to enter the army, as unlawfully I now think, as I did it involuntarily; as many of the parties to this violence acted or claimed to act under commissions as militia officers, I beg most respectfully to call your attention to the manner of depriving me of my liberty and family of their support and protection.
On the 28th of August last a meeting of citizens of Stanly county was held, at which I was chosen secretary and offered certain resolutions which were adopted, and published in the semi-weekly Standard of September 8th. They were in accordance with my private sentiments, and I did not know that there was anything illegal or improper in giving them public expression, or I should not have offered them.
On the 19th Inst. I was arrested at the house of Israel Furr in the county by Messrs. John Long, George Phifer, Henry Plott, [citizens of Ca. County] and Mr. Mooney, citizen of
CabarrusStanly County. About a mile from Furr's house they procured a guard and put me in their custody, took me to Morgan's in this county, where some militia and a few Confederate troops were in camp; shut me up with ten [or] twelve other prisoners they had there, in a barn under guard.
After a while I was called out with another prisoner, and a Dr.
Ramsey[Anderson] of our county informed us there was a man to be shot, and militia officers had it to do. We were both marched to camp under guard, where Ramsey[Anderson] announced the fact that a trial for treason was to take place, the militia officers would be the jury. These officers, about twenty in number, were arranged to the right and left of me, the other prisoner removed. Dr. Ramsey[Anderson] acted as judge and appointed Ellic Underwood prosecutor and Mr. Moody, prisoner's counsel without consulting me in the matter. A rope was then called for by Ramsey[Anderson] or Underwood and produced. Underwood took it, doubled it up, and hung it in a tree near by. Ramsey[Anderson] then instructed the jury that I was to be tried by them for treason, that the punishment would be death if I was convicted. He then called and swore some witnesses about the resolutions above spoken of. Before the witnesses got through, I asked to have the resolutions themselves introduced; a paper with them in was handed to Underwood who refused to give them in evidence, or allow them to be read in my behalf, but put them in his pocket, when the testimony closed for the prosecution. Mr. Moody replied to a suggestion, that I should like some witnesses sworn in my favor, that it was unnecessary, that the prosecution must prove my guilt first. Underwood addressed the jury of officers, to the affect that I was guilty of treason, that the punishment was death, that I deserved it and ought to be hung as high as Haman. Moody had but little to say in my defense, when Anderson as judge, [told] tothe jury that if they believed the evidence about the resolution opposing the tax in kind; and my offering the resolutions at the meeting spoken of, it was treason, and so was that about the constitution as it is and the Union as it was, and it would be their duty to bring in a verdict of guilty. The jury went down the road, and returned in a few minutes with a verdict of guilty. Ramsey[Anderson] then told me, that I was tried and convicted of one of the highest crimes in the known world; that the punishment was death, but as enough had been killed he would withold sentence until morning, to allow me to choose between entering the army and[or] being executed. A Mr. Cagle & a Mr. Heathcock were then allowed to hold up to me the terrors of the punishment that hung over me; and to urge me to enlist to avoid them. I was then remanded to the barn prison and a strong guard ordered over me to prevent my escape. In the morning I was taken out again under guard and Ramsey[Anderson] asked for my decision. I told him I wanted the advice of counsel before giving it, as I was ignorant of the law and had not intentionally done anything contrary to it. He replied ignorance is no excuse in times like these.
I was then put to marching up and down the road under guard, while
Ramsey[Anderson] and two other armed men, took a prisoner off to the woods, and after a while returned without him, giving me the impression that he had been executed. Ramsey[Anderson] again asked for my decision. I told him I was in their power, if they wished to put me to death they could do so, and that I could not yet give a decision. He said they were bound to execute the law upon me unless I enlisted, but allowed a little further time for consideration. Under these circumstances I was forced to enlist under Lieut. Carter (who was near with some Confederate soldiers) to save my life. I did not do so of my own free will and since I have been allowed a few days liberty by enlisting, and relieved from fears of violence of which I was threatened, I begin to think that a great wrong may have been done to myself and family, and an offense to the laws and customs of the state, by the militia officers allowing the exercise of false judicial and executive powers by themselves, and others that should have been under their orders, at the time I was arrested, imprisoned, tried for my life and condemned to death unless I volunteered, as I was forced to do very involuntarily. I have not and shall not knowingly disobey the laws, nor do I wish to loose my life or liberty through unlawful means. I shall be forced so quickly from my family, that little chance of redress presents itself to me, but I trust, if these officers have permitted or caused me to be forced unlawfully into the army, your excellency will withdraw their commissions, after due inquiry, and let them follow [me] lawfully. inThe commanding officer of the Stanly county militia, I presume can give the names of all the officers, that took part in the proceedings against me. I know but few myself. I am very respectfully,
Stanly County. I Henry Reed of said county being duly sworn saith that the facts in the foregoing letter are true. Subscribed and sworn to before me.
This 29 day of sept. 1863
C. C. Love
(Notation on bottom of letter) Gen. Gatlin will order the Col. of that County to explain this matter. Z. B. Vance
(Submitted to Stanly County Genealogical Society Journal by Jo Stallings Short)
Source: Papers of Governor Zebulon Vance, Box #7: Sept. 10, 1863,
Folder-September 26-30, 1863, NC State Archives
In support and discussion of the above valuable document pertaining to North Carolina and the Civil War, Jo Stalling Short wrote the following as appears in the Stanly County Genealogical Society Journal.
The Conscription act of 1862 drafted all white males between the ages of 16 and 35 for military duty in the southern Confederacy during the Civil War. This age limit for conscripts was raised to 45 in July 1863 and before the war was over the age limit was raised to 50. Henry Reed, the grandson of John Reed who founded the Reed Gold Mine in Cabarrus County, was a 43-year-old husband and father of a4 children when the age limit for the draft was raised from 35 to 45 in July 1863. This change caused Henry Reed to be eligible for conscription immediately.
On August 28, 1863 Reed and a group of citizens in Stanly County met and adopted "certain resolutions" and published them in the semi-weekly Concord Standard of September 8, 1863. It is unfortunate that a copy of the Concord-Standard newspaper is not available for that date. The first clue given to Henry Reed's letter to Governor Vance regarding the contents of these resolutions is a reference to the groups opposition to "the tax in kind." This may refer to the taxation program that was enact4ed by the Confederate Congress in the spring of 1863. This taxation program stated that "a farm family was obligated to turn over 10% of its production of everything to agents of the Confederate government." The second clue regarding these resolutions adopted by the group showed their support and allegiance to the Union and opposition to the Confederacy. In the letter below Reed told the governor that these resolutions "were in accordance with my private sentiments, and I did not know that there was anything illegal or improper in giving them public expression, or I should not have offered them"
Conditions in Stanly County wre dire in the fall of 1863. There had been a smallpox epidemic in February and crops failed in the summer and fall of that year. The minutes of the November session of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions states that the "present corn crop in Stanly County has been a very small one" and J. M. McCorkle was appointed to go to Richmond to confer with the Confederate authorities regarding relief for the citizens of the county. Most of the able-bodied men the the county had been drafted leaving women, children, and older men to plant and harvest the crops. Their own food stufs were meager and under the new taxation program the citizens were required to give 10% of the crops to the government.
Back to George Reed (father of Henry Reed)