I see by the public journals that a draft is to be made, and that 100,000 men are to be assigned to fill up the old regiments, and 200,000 to be organized as new troops. I do not believe that Mr. Lincoln, or any man, would at this critical period of our history repeat the fatal mistakes of last year. Taking this army as a fair sample of the whole, what is the case? The regiment do not average 300 men, nor did they exceed that strength last fall when the new regiments joined us in November and December. Their rolls contained about 900 names, whereas now their ranks are even thinner than the older organizations. All who deal with troops in fact instead of theory know that the knowledge of the little details of camp life is absolutely necessary to keep men alive. New regiments for want of this knowledge have measles, mumps, diarrhea, and the whole catalogue of infantile diseases, whereas the same number of men distributed among the older regiments would learn from the sergeants and corporals and privates the art of taking care of themselves, which would actually save their lives and preserve their health against the host of diseases that invariably attack the new regiments. Also, recruits distributed among older companies catch up, from close and intimate contact, a knowledge of drill, the care and use of arms, and all the instruction which otherwise it would take months to impart. The economy, too, should recommend the course of distributing all the recruits as privates to the old regiments, but these reasons appear to me so plain that it is ridiculous for me to point them out to you, or even to suggest them to an intelligent civilian.
I am assured by many that the President and sustain the Army, and that he desires to know the wishes and opinions of the officers who serve in the wood instead of the 'salon". If so, you would be listened to.
It will take at least 600 good recruits per regiment to fill up the present army to the proper standard. Taking 1,000 as the number of regiments in actual existence, this would require 600,000 recruits. It may be the industrial interests of the country will not authorize such a call, but how much greater the economy to make an army and fight out this war at once. See how your success is checked by the want of prompt and adequate enforcement to guard against a new enemy gathering to the rear. Could your regiments be filled up to even the standard of 700 men for duty, you would be content to finish quick and well the work so well begun. If a draft be made, and the men be organized into new regiments instead of filling up the old, the President may satisfy a few aspiring men, but will prolong the war for years and allow the old regiments to die of natural exhaustion. I have several regiments which have lost honestly in battle and by disease more than half their original men, and the wreck or remainder, with colonel, lieutenant-colonel, major, ten captains, lieutenants, &c., and a mere squad of men, remind us of the army of Mexico-all officers and no men. It would be an outrage to consolidate these old, tried, and veteran regiments and bring in the new and comparatively worthless bodies. But fill up our present ranks, and there is not an officer or man of this army but would feel renewed hope and courage to meet the struggles before us.
I regard this matter as more important than any other that could possibly arrest the attention of President Lincoln, and it is for this reason that I ask you to urge it upon him at this auspicious time. If adopted, it would be more important than the conquest of Vicksburg and Richmond together, as it would be a victory of common sense