To the orders of the admiral commanding the Mississippi Squadron and to the various quartermasters and masters of transportation their services have been rendered for a remuneration far less than the same would have commanded from private individuals, although accompanied by infinitely more danger; and they have been rendered not only with promptitude and alacrity, but can with truth be said that the uniform success which has attended the Union arms upon the Western waters is to be attributed in some degree to the firmness, courage, and skill with which both transports and gun-boats have been directed in times of emergency and danger by the Western pilots.
Without delaying to specify other reasons which are apparent without being stated, we submit for your enlightened consideration whether it [is] just to subject our members to the operations of this draft, when they have been constantly liable to these drafts for three years and more, and will be so liable until the termination of the war.
We are aware that mere personal and private interests should not be permitted to impede the Government in the least degree in the prosecution of the great work which it now has on hand, but we submit that the members of this association can render it much more efficient service in the accomplishment of this and by the pursuit of their ordinary avocations than they possibly can by being subjected to military [duty] in the ranks. It is essential at all times to have within reach at a moment's call a sufficient number of skillful pilots to meet any emergency that may arise, and the number of licensed pilots now to be obtained is not more than sufficient to supply the imperative demands of commerce and the requirements of the service.
Emergencies have arisen, may arise at any moment (ane one is actually upon us now) when the services of every pilot may be required to insure the success of the most important expedition. The want of even a few may prove disastrous to the most important enterprise. It can not subserve, therefore, the real interests of the Government to divert one skillful pilot from the position where he may be of essential service to a sphere where he will be comparatively useless. The place of one thus taken cannot be readily supplied. Five years of toil, study, and exposure are indispensably necessary to fit one for the services required of him by the Government. Nor is this all. As a consequent of the constant changes and shifting in the channel, continual employment is necessary to insure efficiency; to remove one from the scene of his labors for a season will proa considerable period. During the present fall and winter and the coming spring all the transportation that can be obtained will probably be indispensable to the success of the administration of the public service. All indications seem to show that the speedy and safe removal of large bodies of troops and great quantities of munitions and supplies from place to place will be absolutely necessary. To insure this, the services of the members of this association must at all times be attainable.
But we cannot stop to enumerate the multitude of considerations which present themselves. They doubtless will be apparent to your mind, as they are obvious to ours. We beg leave to assure you that we are not actuated by any selfish motives in presenting these views, but believe ourselves simply to be discharging a duty we owe to our country in so doing. Nor do we seek to avoid any danger that our members might incur by a service in the field. The place of pilot is always the post of danger. Occupying an exposed position in the vessel, and discharging a duty without which it cannot be navigated,