STATE OF MAINE, EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT,
Augusta, August 17, 1864.
Honorable E. M. STANTON,
Secretary of War:
SIR: It is with great regret that I address you, knowing your multiplied perplexities, but the subject of this letter is of such importance and involving such consequences I do not feel at liberty to refrain from troubling you.
The Provost-Marshal-General has decided, as I am informed by authority here (Major J. W. T. Gardiner, acting assistant provost-marshal-general of this State), that enrollments may be corrected, but quotas must stand unchanged; that is, the basis may be altered, but not so substantial results.
In a number of sub-districts in this State the enrollment lists are manifestly erroneous, and though this may be corrected, yet, by order of General Fry, the assignment of the present quota, based on the erroneous enrollment, cannot be altered.
To illustrate: I have before me from one small town a list of 200 names improperly entered on the roll. Many over age, some aliens, some dead, some killed in service, others in service. That town has been assigned thirty or forty more than its just quota in consequence of these names being improperly added to the list.
According to the ruling of General Fry the enrollment may be corrected, but the quota founded on it must stand. This may be very military, but it is, to say the least, very illogical, not to characterize it by any stronger terms.
This is by no means a solitary instance. I appeal to you to know if something cannot be done to have these matters set right. If there is any reason for correcting an enrollment, good sense dictates that it should be carried out, and the quota which is, so to speak, the fruit of the enrollment, should be altered to conform to that.
I know delays are incident to making the corrections which, doubtless, will be called for in all parts of the country, and, as has been said to Governor Seymour, may defeat the call. A single suggestion on this point. To obviate the objection as to delay, order the draft to be made for a portion only of the 500,000 at first, leaving a margin sufficiently large for the correction of quotas. You will get a good many men in this way at an early day, time will be allowed for correcting the enrollment, and after this is done then let the draft proceed.
There are other considerations of a grave character which imperatively demand that the conscription act should be enforced in spirit of justice and equality. Conscriptions have always been unpopular-I had almost said hateful-in all communities, and we have plenty of men who will avail themselves of every opportunity and every possible circumstance to irritate and prejudice the people. A draft so enforced as to produce a political revolution would be useless; and worse, the men could hardly be got to the field before they would be ordered back. I do not deem it necessary to say any more than that far more improbable events have happened than a political whirlwind in this country at the ensuing elections which will sweep everything before it.
I do not find fault because measures are adopted which seem to me untimely, but am ready at all times to do the best I can under any circumstances.