mond. The plan proposed by you, as it appeals to the sense of obligation of the citizen to respect the country's claim of service upon him or thus influences him to come forward and enroll himself as one which makes the application of military force unnecessary, and so makes the presence of a military organization a useless part of the machinery of the Conscription Bureau, and as it is that proposed by the legislation of Congress, is of course the method to be employed. I have no objection to urge to it, and shall be glad to see it tried. Confined to that mode of proceeding, the seat of its administration may as well be in Richmond as anywhere else, but let it not undertake the duty of supervising and managing the military police of my department; that is a duty which properly belongs to the department commander, and is as binding on him as the duty of policing the camps or garrisons of his command in any particular locality and for accomplishing which he should be held responsible. It is that feature of the work which was being attempted by the Conscription Bureau in my department to which I objected; and as the law organizing or regulating that bureau does not contemplate its being charged with military duties, but leaves them where they naturally and properly belong, in the hands of the department commander, my objections to the working of the organization of the system are removed.
I shall now feel myself bound to organize such a police force as shall check all disorders throughout my command effectually, and arrest and return to their commands all stragglers and deserters, to whomsoever they may belong, and this is a measure indispensable to the peace and quiet of my department, the security of the property and the lives of the citizens, as well as the good order and discipline of my army in the field. To effect this I have already appointed a chief of military police for the whole department, and cut up its surface into subdivisions; to each of these I have assigned subordinate chiefs, composed of supernumerary officers, preferring, as far as possible, those disabled for field duty. What I now desire is authority in conformity with the provisions of the laws of Congress to raise companies of exempts, to report to these chiefs of military police to enable them to enforce my orders, and that authority I now respectfully ask.
In your communication you say, "I am reluctant to oppose any objection to the authority you ask for the re-enlistment of deserters and stragglers into new organizations." I beg leave to say that in this you have entirely mistaken me, as an examination of my letter will show you; on the contrary, no officer in the service has opposed a sterner opposition in his habitual practice to such a policy than I have, though I am constantly pressed upon that point. My conviction is that it is utterly subversive of discipline and would disintegrate and break up our armies. We can better dispense with the services of such men than endure the damaging effect of overlooking their desertions and compounding with them for the highest of military crimes. I have asked for authority to raise commands within the enemy's lines, or so near them that the conscript officer could not enforce his conscription, but with no view of taking in deserters; on the contrary, I have issued an order that any man found in any cavalry or other command belonging to another organization shall be promptly given up, and if it can be shown that the party receiving him knew him to be a deserter he shall be proceeded against under the provisions of the Article of War prohibiting it. There is a dis-