War of the Rebellion: Serial 125 Page 0809 UNION AUTHORITIES.

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the service, or granting them leaves of absence, or returning them to light duty and to their regiments.

The official records of such officers are thus made more accurate, and unjust charges of absence without leave are in consequence frequently removed, while the evil of unauthorized absence has been very much reduced by the regulation requiring all officers absent from duty on account of disability to present themselves at the points where the boards are in session as soon as they are able to travel.

In connection with these boards a military commission is in constant session in the city of Washington to decide upon cases of alleged absence without leave and other offenses. With something of the formality of court-martial proceedings, this commission examines testimony, both documentary and oral, and receives the explanations of the accused. The names of officers cited before it are published in newspapers, with the warning that they will be subject to summary dismissal if they fail to appear within the specified time. Thus all absent officers are held to a strict account unless they comply with the regulation requiring them to advise the department of their address and authority for absence by periodical reports. The effect of this system is apparent from the fact that, whereas in the course of a single month from 100 to 200 officers were frequently reported absent without leave before its institution, but 364 have been published and referred to the commission, for offenses of every kind, from December 1, 1863, to October 31, 1864.


There seems to be some slight amendment necessary in the legislation concerning chaplains, by which the basis of their rank shall be better defined. The act of April 9, 1864, section 1, gives them "rank without command," and provides that they 'shall be borne on the field and staff rolls next after the surgeons. From this the inference is drawn, though, it is believed, erroneously, that chaplains are to hold a new intermediate grade below that the major, which is a full surgeon's rank, and above that of captain. It was probably the intention of the act that chaplains should be rescued from the anomalous position they before occupied, being neither commissioned officers nor enlisted men, and should take a position on the official records among the non-combatant commissioned staff; that their place was to be next after the medical officers, the term surgeon in the act being used simply in a general sense, and not being intended to attach to it the specific military rank of "major." The amendment suggested, then, is that the chaplain's rank shall be, as it formerly was in reference to pay and allowances, assimilated to that of captain, and that their names shall appear on the rolls and returns next after those of the medical officers.


By the act of June 20, 1864, the pay of enlisted soldiers was raised from $13 to $16 a month. Under a decision of the Second Comptroller of the Treasury, dated July 9, 1864, this increase has been with held in the item of allowance for private servants from the pay of commissioned officers. The subject having been referred by way of appeal, through the Adjutant-General, the following remarks were indorsed, which are here quoted, in the hope that the attention of Congress will