I also inclose you a copy of an order I have issued to-day in regard to the discharge and transfer of the two-years men. After giving the subject mature reflection, I consider this to be the best disposition that can be made of them. Shall be thankful for any additional suggestion from yourself.
I believe the order provides from all the issues that may arise under the complex condition of this question.
Very respectfully, &c.,
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Numbers 44. Camp near Falmouth, Va., April 20, 1863.
In order that no misunderstanding may exist as to the course to be pursued with regard to regiment whose terms of service are about expiring, the following rules will govern the govern the action of corps commanders and others in the matter:
I. Where companies and regiments re-enlist after the expiration of their present term of service, in accordance with the provisions of General Orders, Numbers 85, of April 2, 1863, from the War Department, hereinafter published, the regimental and company officers will be retained, the regiment will have a furlough for the time specified in the order, and be allowed to proceed, at the public expense, with their arms and equipments, to the place of their enrollment; the date of the furlough being two years or nine months, as the case may be, from the date of the original muster into the service of the United States.
II. Where the regiments in a body decline to re-enlist, the officers and men will be mustered out at the expiration of two years or nine months from the date of their muster into the service of the United States; their arms and equipments will be turned in to the ordnance officer of the division to which the troops belong, and transportation and subsistence will be furnished them to the place of the place of their enrollment by the quartermaster's and subsistence departments.
III. In cases where less than one-half of the men re-enlist, the proportion of officers to be retained and the selection of those to be retained in service will be determined by corps commanders, in accordance with the provisions of Paragraph III, of General Orders, No. 86, of April 2, 1863, from the War Department. The rank, proportion, and number of officers to be retained with the regiment where re-enlistments are partial is left to the discretion of corps commanders.
IV. The proportion of the bounty provided in General, Numbers 85, of April 2, 1863, from the War Department, for re-enlistment, will be entered upon the muster-rolls, to be paid at the first payment after the return of the men furlough.
V. In regiments where two-years' men and men enlisted for three years or the war are associated together, special recommendations may be made to these headquarters for furloughs to the latter, when the number of two-years' men re-enlisting may, in the opinion of the corps commander, justify the indulgence.
VI. Where the two-years' regiment do not re-enlist, as above provided for, corps commanders will direct the transfer of men enlisted for three years or the war in such regiments to three-years' regiments from the same State, or, if their numbers are sufficient, these men may, at the discretion of corps commanders, be formed into battalions.