STATE OF MAINE, HDQRS. ADJT. GENERAL'S OFFICE, Augusta, January 16, 1864.
Colonel JAMES B. FRY,
Provost-Marshal-General, Washington, D. C.:
SIR: I sincerely regret that your department disapproves of the measures adopted by the commander-in-chief for filling this State's quota of volunteers under the call of the President of October 17, 1863.
Justice to Governor Coburn (now in private life) requires me to say that he did not regard the critical period of the Union in this war as being so certainly passed as to warrant an outlay of several millions of dollars from our State treasury (which may be so much needed hereafter by Government) in bounties to volunteers while a reasonable probability existed of the men being furnished by the respective cities, towns, and plantations throughout the State without such assistance.
The privilege to volunteers of selecting a quota at will unavoidably followed the adoption of the above policy, inasmuch as the places of their residence could not be compelled to pay the customary bounties. The restriction, therefore, suggested in yours of the 13th instant could but have resulted only in the enlistment of thousands of our citizens upon the quotas of other States.
While there have been numerous enlistments by residents of towns upon the quotas of other towns in this State, I very much doubt if New Hampshire, Massachusetts, or New York have anything like so large a proportion of their quotas under the present call enlisted from the citizens of their own State as has Maine.
Although the Governor in general orders expressed a desire (for reasons most apparent and conclusive) that our town bounties should be uniform in amount throughout the State and not exceed $200, yet they have varied from that sum to $500, while some towns and plantations have offered not bounties whatever.
Recruits are, however, at this time readily obtained for town bounties of from $200 to $300, and the prospect is that a large portion of those places paying no bounties until recently will no be enabled to fill their quotas, for the above reason, and if a few hundred men should be lacking to make up the entire quota of the State under present call (which can hardly be possible) the Legislature now in session will obtain the menounties from the treasury of Maine.
While I have endeavored, through the agency of a wide margin of overlays in apportioning quotas, to provide for the shortcomings of poor and disloyal localities, it can scarcely be expected that towns will knowingly furnish more volunteers than can be legally required of them under any call, involving as it does an expense of $500 per man in many instances.
Your position that every town should raise its own quota of men was clearly intended to be understood by me as absolutely requiring the quotas of volunteers from towns to be procured from among their own citizens, respectively. The response afforded by the recent draft to this principle is equally applicable to the present effort to raise volunteers and demonstrate the utter impracticability of any such effort or calculation.
The poor town of Stoneham, in Oxford County, whose quota under the present call is seven, paid that number $300 each as town bounty,
3 R R-SERIES III, VOL IV