extra session would authorize an increase of the number. Having failed to do so, I trust that at the approaching session an increase will be authorized, and that the selection of cadets will be lly to those States which, co-operating cordially with the Government, have brought their forces into the field to aiding the maintenance of this authority.
In this connection justice requires that I should call attention to the claims of a veteran officer, to whom more than to any other the Military Academy is indebted for its present prosperous and efficient condition. I allude to Colonel Sylvanus Thayer, of the Engineer Corps, who now, by reason of advanced years and faithful public service, is incapacitated for duty in the field. Under the recent law of Congress he may justly claim to be retired from active service; but; believing that his distinguished service should receive some mark of acknowledgment from the Government, I recommend that authority be asked to retire him upon his full pay and emoluments.
The health of the Army is a consideration of the highest consequence. Good men and women in different States, impelled by the highest motive of benevolence and patriotism, have come in aid of the constituted sanitary arrangements of the Government, and been greatly instrumental in diminishing disease in the camps, giving increased comfort and happiness to the life of the soldier, and imparting to our hospital service a more humane and generous character. Salubrity of situation and pleasantness of surroundings have dictated the choice of the hospital sites,and establishments for our sick and wounded of which we have every reason to be proud have been opened in saint Louis, Washington, Georgetown, Baltimore, and Annapolis, and will be attached to every division of the Army in the field. To the close of the war vigilant care shall be given to the health of the well soldier,and to the comfort and recovery of the sick.
I recommend that the system of promotions which prevails in the regular service be applied to the volunteer forces in the respective States-restricting, however, the promotions to men actually in the field. At present each Government select and appoints the officers for the troops furnished by his State, and complaint is not infrequently made that, when vacancies occur in the field, men of inferior qualifications are placed in command over those in the ranks who are their superiors in military experience and capacity. the advancement of merit should be the leading principle in all promotions, and the volunteer soldier should be given to understand that preferment will be the sure reward of intelligence, fidelity, and distinguished service.
By existing laws and regulations an officer of the Regular Army ranks an officer of volunteers of the same grade, notwithstanding the commission of the latter may be of antecedent date. In my judgement this practice has a tendency to repress the ardor and to limit the opportunity for distinction of volunteer officers, and change should be made by which seniority of commission should confer the right of command.
I submit for reflection question whether the distinction between regulars and volunteers which now exists should be permitted to continue. The efficiency of the Army, it appears to me, might be greatly increased by a consolidation of the two during the continuance of the war, which, combining both forces, would constitute them one grand Army of the Union.
Recruiting for the Regular Army has not been attended with that success which was anticipated, although a large number of men have