War of the Rebellion: Serial 124 Page 0037 UNION AUTHORITIES.

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Washington, February 4, 1863.

Paragraph 1341, General Regulations, and General Orders, Numbers 86, of July 23, 1862, paragraph IV, are hereby modified so as to require that application for payment in cases where certificates of discharge or final statements are lost or destroyed, shall be made to the Second Auditor of the Treasury instead of the Second Comptroller.

By order of the Secretary of War:




Washington City, February 9, 1863.

Honorable E. M. STANTON,

Secretary of War:

SIR: In obedience to your verbal directions I have the honor to submit the following report concerning the Provost-Marshal- General's Bureau organized by General Orders, No 140, of 1862.

The time which has elapsed since the order was issued has only served to show more conclusively than ever the necessity of some vigorous and effective measures for arresting and returning to the service stragglers, and deserters from the Army.

Their number is continually increasing, and their influence on the Army and the community is becoming every day more injurious, not only reducing the forces in the field and exciting discontent throughout the contra, but tending greatly to bring into contempt the authority of the Government. Desertion is no longer regarded as a crime among the class of men who are of it, but has come to be considered as only and expert method of obtaining money by bounties and hire as substitutes.

The system established by General Orders, Numbers 140, has certainly failed, in a great measure, to effect its intended object.

This may be owing to defects in the plan, but I respectfully suggest that it may be otherwise accounted for, and I beg leave here to state some of the causes which appear to me to have produced its failure. The first one is the insufficient number of special provost-marshals. It is supposed that more than 100,000 persons are now absent from the Army who ought to be on duty in it.

To arrest and send back so large a number is a work of no ordinary magnitude, and the means for accomplishing, it should be commensurate with its extent. The expense is doubtless an important consideration, but when compared with the importance of the work it ought not to be an obstacle. It should be done at any necessary cost. I am still of the opinion that one special provost-marshal to each Congressional district is not too many. It would save the necessity of appointing deputies, and bring the entire system more directly under the control of the office at Washington.

The second cause of failure in the plan is the lack of certainty in the compensation of these officers. Their pay should be fixed, and the time and manner of payment should be definitely arranged. Without this they cannot take that interest in the service which will secure efficiency.

The expenses also of arresting and returning deserters, as well as other expenses attending the discharge of duty by these officers, should