Newspaper Page Text
SAYS OFFICERS CAN
PEEPLES SAYS REORGANIZATION j
OF MILITIA MAY BE ANNUL ED j
The Election of Officers to Fill Places
of tlie Men Displaced uccasions
News and Courier.
Columbia, June 29.?""This being j
only a reorganization, or a rearrange-!
ment or reassignment?as you may be
pleased to term it?of the remaining
companies of the .militia, I am of the
opinion t':at the officers of these regiments
have not been removed in ac-1
cordance with law, and that they cannot
be removed or mustered out of
service except as is provided by I
statute so long as the military com- j
panies themselves remain a part of
the organized militia," says Thomas H.
Peeples, attorney general, in an
exhaustive opinion rendered this
morning on the reorganizing of the
South Carolina National Guard. He
goes into the joistory of the State
militia from January 11, 1915, when
former Governor Blease, by proclamation
mustered out the National Guard,
up to the present time. '"Under date
of January 15, 1915, after referring to
the statutes relating to the militia, I
- ? ? A-*- - - J-'-i i
aav-isea c-e aujuiam mai uuu.i
advised the adjutant general that
'from an examination of the proclamation
and applying it to the law quoted,
I am of the opinion that t':e organized
militia of South Carolina has been
legally disbanded and mustered out of
service,' " says the opinion. "Nothing
has been brought to my attention to
cause any change in my niew ti-en expressed,
nor have later investigations
done so," continues the opinion.
If the opinion of the attorney
general is upheld by the courts, the
recent elections of militia officers are
vitiated and the former regimental
officers are still in command. Also, if
the opinion is upheld, the proclamation
of Governor Manning, issued January
22, 1915, declaring null and void
the proclamation of former Governor
Blease mustering the State National
Guard out of service, is illegal, and
Soutti Carolina has no organized militia
authorized by the statutes.
May Stop Encampments.
Military authorities think probably
the opinion of the attorney general'
will cause a discontinuance of tie ;
plans for encampments for this year; .
~ for they think that it is improbable'
that the comptroller general will
lionor warrants for pay to wuat might
fee an illegally organized militia. Also,
they say that the probabilities are
that the United States disbursing of
' T VI
ficer, ;Major J. 9':apter Caldwell, will!
refuse to pay out government funds
until the matter is finally adjudicated
in the courts.
The opinion says that W. W. Moore,
adjutant general, on January 20, 1915,
was of the opinion that the order (of j
former Governor Blease disbanding!
t. e militia) was legal" and again "that
he considered the actions of the for
mer governor illegal." This afternoon '
Gen. Moore denied that ihe had made
any such conflicting statements.
The opinion was given at the request
of Major J. Shapter Caldwell,
inspector general of the South Carolina
National Guard, assistant to the
adjutant general. Major Caldwell
wanted to know if ti':e regimental of|
fleers of the old 1st, 2nd and 3rd regiI
ments should be mustered out of service.
The attorney general in his opinion,
quotes the proclamation of Former;
1 Governor Blease, under date of Jan
i ftary 11, 1915, wcich dissolved, mus-|
tered out and disbanded all the .militia [
i in the State, both National Guard and
! On t':e requst of the office of the
i adjutant general, under date of Januj
ary 12, 1915, Attorney General Peeples
j said that fce rendered an opinion in
! which he held the action of former
: Governor Blease legal and he is "of
the same opinion still." This opinion
i was delivered January 15, 1915.
Meeting of Officers.
The opinion then states that certain
militia officials held a meeting in Coi
i lumbia on January 20, 1915, and at
j that meeting, "according to printed
| newspaper reports," "Adjt. Gen. Moore
1 was of tf:e opinion that the order (of
. former Governor Blease) was legal
t and held that the-best way to proceed
1 now would be to reorganize the
I militia." The attorney general further
j stated trat, on January 22, 1915, "Gov
ernor Manning issued his proclamai
tion and order which provided that
, 'the purported order of the 11th day
of January, 1915, known as General
! Order No. 2, is hereby declared void
I of no effect.'" The proclamation of
the governor is further quoted declaring
that the "officers and men are not
j effected by said illegal order, but have
l continued, and do now continue, as
: though said order had never been issued."
The attorney general states
! that Gen. Moore "is raported to have
said at that time" that ti-e action of
Governor Manning "is all right; it
meets with my hearty approval," and
further that the adjutant general' considered
the action of the former governor
TY.re opinion presumes that the military
department has been "acting upon
ti':e assumption" that "the National
Guard is not and has not been dissolved
and mustered out by the proc
lamation and orders of Governor
The opinion then states that the attorney
general understands that the
orders of Governor Manning, under
date of March 31, 1915," musters out
of service seven companies of infantry
and one band because of "inefficency;
tne regimental ana Dngaue organiza-1
tions were disbanded; ti':e remaining!
companies were ordered to exist as
separate organizations until further
orders; the regimental officers were
placed on the unassigned list pending
property and financial accountability,
and Brig. Gen. Willie Jones was placed
on ti:e retired list. On the same date,
says the opinion, the reorganization
order was issued.
Order By Manning:.
The opinion then states that the
Manning order only disbands or musters
out seven companies and the re
maining companies were reorganized |
into two companies.
The following paragraph of tr.r
opinion then says:
'This being only a reorganization, or
rearrangement or reassignment?as
you may be pleased to term it?of
the remaining companies of the militia,
I am of ti".e opinion that the officers
of these regiments have not
been removed in accordance with law
and that they cannot be removed or
mustered out of service except as is
provided by statute so long as tne
militia companies themselves remain
a part of the organized militia. The
change or transfer of a company from
one regiment to another or from one
battalion to another, or the rearrangement
of the 'various companies of t':e
militia, or the relettering of same, or
the reassignment of same would not
be sufficient in my opinion to remove
an officer who has been elected and
commissioned as provided by law. So
long as we have organized militia,
legally constituted, tr.e removal of officers
who have been elected and commissioned
as such, in my opinion, can
only be done as provided in Sections
541 and 543 of the code of 1912, Volume
1." (The sections are then quot
The opinion tf:.en gives sections of
the code of laws providing for an increase
of the surplus strength of the j
officers of the National Guard, but!
states that only in Section 528 can toe i
attorney general find authority for j
anincrease in the numerical strength
of the National Guard. The opinion j
then quotes tl;e supreme court as'
laying down the proposition that the
chief executive of the State can remove
a civil officer only where sucfi '
power is granted by the constitution
or is implied because of appointment
~ ~ t-U:_ ?^ ~
tu ouite. i ins tu mc uymion
of the attorney general, applies
to the officers of the militia.
T e opinion concludes as follows:
"In connection with this entire military
matter I take this opportunity 01
calling to your attention the fact that
in the preparation and issuance of the
various orders relating to the disbandment
of the militia and the reorganization
of same t is office has not been
consulted, neither has it been called
upon for any advice whatever, savej
and except the request for an opinion i
by t> e adjutant general in reference |
to the legality of the order of Governor j
Blease and your request, to which 1 j
am now replying. I presume that the j
State officers in issuing these orders
have acted upon advice and legal advice.
I am simply mentioning fc-is
fact at this time so as to keep the record
clear and to st ow that if there is J
any uncertainty existing in the militia,
that this office is not and cannot be
held resopnsible for any such condi- (
Hr>nc that m9v oYi?l" "
Col. Le^are's Statement.
Col. A. E. Legare, former command-'
er of the 2nd regiment before the or- j
der of March 31, gave tv.e following interview
"I am surprised to see by the opinion
of the attorney general that he
tad not 'been consulted before by the
adjutant general regarding an order
establishing such a radical precedent.
1 have always maintained that neither:
the letter nor the spirit of t' .e mili-1
tary code of South Carolina could pos- j
sibly countenance the elimination of
about ten high officers of the militia
by the simple expedient of an order,
and it seems t?at the adjutant gen
eral has tried to place his own desires:
and opinion above the law established
by tt e Military Code of 1905. The
opinion of the attorney general not
only seems to show that the adjutant
general had misled the governor when
requesting him to issue tbe orders
covered by the opinion, but that he
has also again placed the militia of
tie State in a muddle."
Gen. Moore's Statement.
W. W. Moore, adjutant general
when asked about the opinion of the
attorney general, said:
"I find ti at the attorney general
quoted an article appearing in a morning
paper saying that I had stated
tr.at the action of Governor Blease in
mustering out the militia was legal.
This was an error, for I have always
held an opposite view. The article
must f ave escaped my attention; oth
erwise i snouia nave requested a correction.
"The order of Governor Manning
declaring the proclamation of Governor
Blease illegal, the one reorganizing
the militia and that placing t?e
officers on the unassigned list were
issued after the chief executive had
consulted with his legal advisers. All
orders emanating from my office tad
his approval, or he sanctioned them,
or they were issued by command of
the governor, wv.o is commander-inchief
of the National Guard.
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AND TELEGRAPH <
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"I have always held that the proper
way to handle the National Guard
matter was to ?ave it reorganized
from the ground up, but when Governor
Manning took the steps be did
I approved trem."
"nci 1 Qfnvp th is
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