CAMP NEAR FALMOUTH, VA.,
March 3, 1863.
Colonel J. C. KELTON, Assistant Adjutant-General:
I have the honor to acknowledge a telegram from the major-general commanding the army, directing in future that all application for leaves of absence and furloughs be acted on at these headquarters, and that the right to grant them must not be delegated to corps commanders.
Soon after assuming command of the Army of the Potomac, I had issued an order on the subject, for the purpose of establishing uniformity throughout the army in granting leaves of absence to the officers and men, and under the restrictions therein named, in which corps commanders were required to perform this duty, holding them responsible for any infraction of the order. A copy was furnished the major-general commanding, and, as I supposed, was approved by him. It was issued under the conviction that it would be productive of beneficial results to the army, which have been fully realized. In order to prevent circumlocution and delay, and also to relieve the adjutant-general's office at headquarters of a vast number of unimportant communications, was conferred upon corps commanders, and I have never heard of its having been abused by them. If officers holding these high positions cannot be intrusted with this duty, it seems to me that they should be replaced by others who can.
The delay incident to applications for leave will be appreciated when you are informed that my camp is nearly 100 miles in circumference, and, if acted on immediately on their receipt at these headquarters, would, in the majority of cases, delay the departure of the applicant eight and forty hours. On being informed of the facts, I cannot but request, for convenience as well as for the dispatch of the current business of this army, that corps commanders may continue to grand leaves of absence in conformity with General Orders, Numbers 10, headquarters Army of the Potomac, dated February 7, 1863.
Very respectfully, &c.,
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Camp near Falmouth, Va., March 3, 1863.
I. The large number of enlisted men detached as servants, orderlies, extra-duty men, &c., requires the attention of corps, division, and brigade commanders to the correction of abuses in this respect.
II. Contrabands will be employed as laborers, teamsters, and servants whenever practicable, and all not so employed must be sent to the provost-marshal for his disposition.
III. Citizens, non-residents, will not be allowed to remain within the lines or camp of this army without a permit from the provost-marshal-general. Commanding officers will cause all such persons within their commands to be brought before the provost-marshal-general for his decision and action.
IV. Commanding officers of corps, divisions, and brigades will cause strict inquiry to be made to correct abuses in the disposition of the funds of regiments and batteries accruing for hospital savings. They will take such means as may be necessary to punish delinquents and offenders in the premises.