War of the Rebellion: Serial 124 Page 0954 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.

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Amounting as it did, to a recognization of past services, and the pledged promises of the United States that those who were found worthy might, through it, obtain positions in a corps to which they had become attached, and in which they had freely risked their lives, shut out from other avenues of distinction, it encouraged all, and led to renewed labors, with a reasonable hope of reward to be won by merit. This legislation has provided for the present wants of the corps. The pay is liberally fixed, and the grades of rank and the duties are properly established. The rule for entering the corps, either by commission or through the ranks are so drawn as to open the highest offices to the aspirations of all. There is every proper incentive which law can give to induce valuable men to the employ, and to lead them to a faithful discharge of their duties. There is placed in the hand of the Executive that control of the organization and of its duties, which is right, at the inception of a service which was at first only experimental. There is given to the corps all that is asked for or required. Until this law has been once tested, by filling the corps to its best organization and putting it in service, under the law, the results of success to be expected from its working,f the corps it provides, can be estimated only in imagination. I am of the opinion that no other legislation is needed. If the law, rightly constructed, is carried out, and the corps thereafter be wanting in success, the fault will be either in the officer who control it or with the material that represents it in the field.


In pursuance of the act of March 3, 1863, which provided for the organization of the Signal Corps of the Army, a board of officers was convened on April 13, 1863, by order of the War Department. The importance of the business to be brought before this Board had induced the request, on the part of the Signal Officer of the Army, that its membeicers of known character and acquirement. I do not think the selection made by the War Department could be improved, or that a body of officers could be found to more considerately and faithfully discharge their duties, or with a more conscientious regard for the interest of the service, than that which has actuated these gentlemen through the prolonged sections of the past summer. The order convening the Board has been modified from time by the War Department. The Board has acted with its best judgment to carry out its provisions. It was made a part of their duty to report on a plan of organization of the corps, and on other matters pertaining to its duties, as their military experience and their opportunities for investigation might suggest. This report has already been submitted to the War Department.

This report has been made by the Board after due consideration, and with full access to the record of the office, the official reports, papers, and other information to be there obtained in regard to the history of the corps, its duties, and its progress from the beginning of the war. I fully concurred in the recommendations of this report, and I respectfully advise their adoption.

The duties of the examination of officers and of recommendations for appointments which devolved upboard were of a delicate character. It was their province to discriminate between officers who have served gallantly and zealously from the beginning of the war and to fix their grades of rank and relative standing. The