Judge Meredith's opinion, that foreigners, Marylanders, and others, who have served in the army, have become domiciled, and are liable to conscription, has produced a prodigious commotion. Gen. Winder's door is beset with crowds of eager seekers of passports to leave the Confederacy; and as these people are converting their Confederate money into gold, the premium on specie has advanced.
Judge Campbell, Assistant Secretary of War, has decided that Judge Meredith's opinion is not authority; and hence his son-inlaw, Lieut.-Col. Lay, who at present wields the Conscription Bureau, acts accordingly. But Gen. Rains has a contrary opinion; and he intended to see the President yesterday, who is understood to coincide with Judge Meredith. It is also alleged that Secretary Seddon concurs in this opinion; and if this be the case, an explosion is imminent — for Judge Campbell must have given instructions “by order of the Secretary,” without the Secretary's knowledge or consent.
I advised the general to see the President and Secretary once a week, and not rely upon verbal instructions received through a subordinate; he said the advice was good, and he should follow it. But he is much absorbed in his subterrene batteries.
SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 270