The news from Gettysburg was slow in reaching North Carolina. Zeb heard about the battle earlier than most of the people in the state. J. J. Young of the Twenty-sixth Regiment reported to his former commanding officer on the day after the battle, "It was a second Fredericksburg, only the wrong way." Letters from Samuel McDowell Tate, D. H. Hill, and James J. Pettigrew confirmed that North Carolinians had fought gallantly in a losing cause.1 It would be more than a week before most of the state's residents would start to realize the enormity of the news from Vicksburg and Gettysburg. Even then many of the particulars remained unknown, but it was increasingly obvious that the Confederacy faced a crisis.
Fortunately for Zeb, he had called a special session of the legislature to meet on July 3. Two important initiatives came out of this session. The first was legislation that allowed Zeb to recruit the seven thousand militiamen requested by President Davis. As Zeb wrote to the Confederate president, this legislation was not as strong as it could have been. He explained: "I visited the Legislature in secret session and urged them to draft magistrates and militia officers. They declined to do so and adopted the exemption bill of Congress, which I fear will prevent me from raising the whole number required." On a more positive note from Zeb's perspective, the legislators in special session finally passed a law that would give state authorities some of the tools they felt they needed to deal with unrest. The bill was entitled "An Act to Punish Aiders and Abettors of Deserters."2 Rather than rely on Confederate forces, who were often deeply resented, to keep the peace in North Carolina, this legislation allowed local law enforcement officers and the state militia to take the initiative.
Zeb also continued his efforts to remove North Carolinians' causes for resentment of Confederate treatment. On July 6, before he knew the full extent of the disaster in Pennsylvania, Zeb wrote a very plain letter to Jefferson Davis. He complained, "The last appointment by the Q. Master General, of a Col. "Edmund" Bradford of Norfolk Va., to the Chief Collectorship of the tax in kind for this State, have given almost universal offence, and I may be excused for saying, very justly." Zeb argued that his primary objec-