WAR DEPT., PROVOST-MARSHAL-GENERAL'S OFFICE,
Washington, D. C., October 17, 1863.
His Excellency ABNER COBURN,
Governor of the State of Maine:
SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your telegram of the 15th instant on the subject of granting the same bounty to recruits for new regiments as is granted to recruits for old regiments. The subject presented has been under consideration, and my views upon it are contained in a report, a copy of which is inclosed.
I sincerely hope that Your Excellency will heartily aid in the effort to fill up and thus preserve the organization of the old regiments, even at the sacrifice of the local interests involved in the raising of new ones. By filling up the old regiments the present Army will be kept in existence; the tried and experienced officers now in it can next year be recommissioned; the recruits now put in will by that time become good soldiers, and next year, notwithstanding the times of men now in expire, the same regiments will continue on. The system of raising new and disbanding old regiments is exceedingly injurious to military interests, and is calculated to keep us forever at disadvantage with an enemy who pursues the opposite and wiser policy. Nothing can now be better for the public interests than for the State and General Government to work harmoniously together in devoting this the most favorable recruiting season to raising men to swell the regiments now doing regimental duty with but a quarter or a third of the requisite numbers.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JAS. B. FRY,
The enrollment act contemplates the raising of recruits for old organizations. (Sec.34.)
All persons drafted under the provisions of this act shall be assigned by the President to military duty in such corps, regiments, or other branches of the service as the exigencies of the service may require.
The money offered as additional bounty for recruits for old organizations is that paid under the act by drafted men for the procuration of substitutes, and the men raised by this money should go to the same general purposes as those drafted; that is, to old organizations. There is probably no doubt in the mind of any military man but that "the exigencies of the service" require that the old organizations be filled in preference to the new ones. A recruit in an old regiment is worth two or three in a new one. The interests of the General Government absolutely require recruits for old regiments. The true interests of States lie in the same direction. It is far more Honorable to the State to fill up and preserve the existence of a decimated, battle- stained, honored regiment than to let it waste away and die, while the energies of those to whom it trusts at home are devoted to creating new organizations, which, if completed, will not be worth one-fourth as much as the old ones would be with the same care. And further than this, it is unjust to the individual officers and men of the old regiments to abandon them to the consolidation, discharge, or, for want of recruits, to the increased daily labor and danger which necessarily results from their depleted ranks. In the field details for picket duty and other hard and dangerous service are made by regiments,