War of the Rebellion: Serial 032 Page 0145 Chapter XXXIV. BATTLE OF PRAIRIE GROVE, ARK.

Search Civil War Official Records

that whenever a vacancy does occur in a company or regiment, and examining board of three capable officers be appointed by the division or corps commanders; that, without regard to rank or restriction to the command, all persons desiring the vacant place be invited to appear before the board without a given time to be examined as to character and qualification, and that the board recommend and the division or corps commander immediately assign to duty the one found best qualified and most meritorious, conditioned that he shall not draw pay till the assignment be approved by the War Department. As auxiliary to this, division or corps commanders should be authorized to order before a similar board any regiment or company officer deemed incapable, neglectful, or otherwise unfit, and, on the report of the board against him, to suspend him from duty and cause the place to be immediately filled, as in the case of any other vacancy, and on the approval of the proceedings by the War December. The delinquent officer should invariably be put in the ranks as a private soldier. I would apply these provisions to all the staff officers of corps, divisions, brigades, and regiments with the farther regulation that persons assigned to staff duty, where bond is required by law, may execute the same before the commander of the division or corps. Great delays and detriment to the service result form the existing arrangements as to that matter.

Next in importance is the subject of the pay of the troops. Poor men almost invariably make up our armies. Their wives and children, left without protection, are exposed to absolute suffering unless the men are regularly and adequately paid. No troops that I have known during the war have been paid with anything like promptness. Immense arrearages are now due the men of this corps. Their families are in great suffering. The consequence is that very many desertions have occurred. If arrearages could be at once discharged, the evil would be checked. If the pay of the soldier was not only promptly given him, but made sufficient in amount to support his family as it should be, desertions would be unknown. This subject involves the fate of the Confederacy. Notions of false economy ought to be discarded in considering it. The conscript act ought to be revised. Every man between sixteen and sixty, who is able to serve the Confederacy in the army, whether in the ranks or as an artisan or mechanic, laborer, teamster, cook, hospital attendant, or in any other capacity, ought to be put in service without regard to avocation or other plea. There ought to be no exemption whatever, except in the case of absolute and permanent physical disability. If by this means more soldiers are raised than necessary, it would be a very just and humane policy to grant furloughs to the old soldiers and put the young conscripts in their places. If the men out of the army are "the people," these ideas may fail of popular approval. That, however, in no way affects their merits.

Under the same supposition, the last suggestion I have to make will be still more decidedly unpopular. It will be odious in the eyes of speculators, extortioners, refusers of Confederate money, evaders of conscription, deserters, harborers of deserters, spies, marauders, federalists, and that less respectable class who regard these others as the people, and pander to them for their votes. The obnoxious suggestion is, a vigorous and determined system of martial law, covering all classes of evil-doers mentioned above, and compelling them, by stern and swift punishment, either to leave the Confederacy or to bear their due part of the burdens of the war. Without martial law, loyal citizens and the fighting soldiers of the country, their wives and children, are literally the prey of the basest of the population. The civil laws, State organ-