War of the Rebellion: Serial 124 Page 1052 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.

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Nearly 22,000 deserters and absentees have been apprehended by the officers of this Bureau between the 1st of May and the 1st of November.

The number of deserters in October is not yet known; it is probably less than in September. Assuming, however, that it is the same, it is found that the number who deserted and absented themselves in September and October is but one-half as great as the number in May and June. This diminution is attributable to the increased probabilities afforest, and to the punishments recently inflicted upon deserters. Continued success in the arrest of deserters, and adequate punishments, will, I think, reduce the evil of desertion to small proportions.


The first steps taken toward organizing the Bureau of the Provost-Marshal-General showed the necessity for a military force for special service in the Bureau. The laws prevented calling out and organizing as a reserve corps, or home guards, the men in part or whole of the second class. The organization, therefore, of men who had been in service and become unfit for further field duty was resorted to, and was commenced, by your approval of my report on this subject, dated April 17. General Order 105, dated April 28, announces the principles upon which the organization has been conducted. The objects to be accomplished by creating the corps were:

First. To secure the military services, for garrison, hospital, and provost duty, of that class of deserving officers and men who, from wounds received in action or disease contracted in service, were unfit for further duty in the field, and who would otherwise be discharged from the service, but yet were able to do light duty, and to bring back for like purposes those who had been previously discharged on similar grounds and were still unfit for active duty and not liable to draft.

Second. To provide Honorable and useful occupation and suitable compensation for a class of persons whose claims upon the nation no one can question.

Men who have become disabled in the military service of the country are thus supported by the Government; they take the places, in the interior, of troops fit for the field, and so strengthen the active armies, and, though more or less disabled, they earn, and have the satisfaction of feeling that they earn, the compensation bestowed upon them, and by their position in this corps of honor the pride and soldierly spirit which produced their battle scars is fostered and protected by giving them useful and Honorable employment, instead of leaving them inactive and in want, a burden to themselves and to the community.

The corps on 1st of November consisted of 491 commissioned officers and 17,764 es force is organized as infantry, composing 203 companies. One hundred and sixty of these companies have been formed into sixteen regiments. The remainder are not yet formed into regiments, but soon will be.

Each regiment contains six companies of the First Battalion and four companies of the Second Battalion. The first battalions are armed with muskets and perform garrison duty; the second battalions are armed with swords and pistols and are on hospital duty, as guards, cooks, clerks, nurses, attendants, &c. IT is designed, in having the regiments composed of companies of both first and sec-