War of the Rebellion: Serial 082 Page 0783 Chapter LII. CORRESPONDENCE,ETC.-CONFEDERATE.

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order from the War Department is published for the information, as a solemn pledge of the Government, that no man heretofore in rebellion will be forced to fight in the armies of the United during this rebellion. Humanity and propriety of governmental action alike forbid it:


No. 64 Washington, D. C., February 18, 1864.

Whenever refugees from within the rebel lines or deserters from the rebel armies present themselves at the United States camps or military posts, they will be immediately examined by the provost-marshal, with a view to determine their character and their motives in giving themselves up. If it appears that they are honest in their intentions of forever deserting the rebel cause, care will be taken to explain to them that they will not be forced to serve in the U. S. Army against the rebels, nor to be kept in confinement. The President's proclamation of December 8, 1863, will be read to them, and, if they so desire, the oath therein prescribed will be administered to them. They will then be questioned as to whether they desire employment from the United States; and if so, such arrangements as may be expedient will be made by the several army commanders for employing them on the Government works within their commands. Those who come to the Army of the Potomac will be forwarded to the military governor of the District of Columbia, at Washington, with reports of their cases, that employment may be given to them, if desired; or if not, that they may be sent as far north as Philadelphia.

By order of the Secretary of War:


Assistant Adjutant-General.

By command of Major-General Butler:


Major and Assistant-General.


[Colonel G. W. BRENT,

Assistant Adjutant-General:]

COLONEL: In reply to your note of the 18th instant, suggesting for consideration the propriety of keeping one regiment of each brigade in reserve for twenty-four or forty-eight hours, instead of one regiment as at present, I have to state that I have thought it particularly desirable to adopt the former method at this time in my command and that arrangements are now made by which each brigade will to-night have about one-fourth of its strength in reserve. I would suggest that there is, however, no good cover for the reserve at a proper distance from my main line, and I would be pleased if the commanding general would direct that certain commanding grounds in rear of our lines, especially near the Jerusalem plank road, should be fortified and occupied by the reserves, making a system of detached works. A battery, with trenches flanking it for a regiment of infantry, should be first staked out on each commanding height. In making this proposition I do not desire to prepare a line to fall back on. I think our troops should fully understand that the present line has to be held; the system of detached works proposed will cover our reserves and bring them in a position for immediate service; it will give confidence to our men and discourage the foe; and should any part of our line be carried for a moment, it will enable us to drive the enemy back and to reoccupy that point; with formidable batteries in rear, our troops on the flanks of a breach would not be likely to abandon their positions.

If I may be permitted in this not very formal communication to introduce a very different subject, I would suggest that if the present