The medal of honor is of bronze, of neat device, and is highly prized by those on whom it has been bestowed. Hitherto no medals have been conferred upon commissioned officers, apparently under the idea that at some future day their acts of distinguished bravery would be recognized by brevets. It is believed that in the majority of vases the award of a gold or a silver medal would be quite as acceptable as the brevet and of more substantial value, especially in the volunteer-service. Under the act of March 3, 1863, brevet rank carries with it no increase of pay or allowances in the volunteer service, and at the expiration of the term of the officer the brevet will, of course, cease with his other rank. If an act were passed to authorize it, a prompt and gratifying acknowledgment of distinguished services could be made by publishing a general order awarding to the officer "the gold medal" or the 'silver medal," with the privilege of engraving the on the name and date of the battle in which his gallantry was conspicuous. In case of his again winning distinction, he would be authorized in general orders to add to the inscription upon his medal the name and date of his new exploit. If both gold and silver medals were authorized, there would be no objection to the same officer being the recipient of both if won by meritorious conduct at different times and different in degree. The system of medals need in nowise interfere with the conferring of brevet rank in cases where such rank might be actually exercised in high commands or at the discretion of the President, but it would relieve the pressure for brevets on the part of the many officers who justly believe they have won a title to some mark of honor and would avoid the many vexed questions likely to arise from the possession of brevet rank by so large a number of officers as can reasonably prefer a claim to reward.
PRINTING OFFICIAL REPORTS.
In compliance with the resolution of Congress approved May 19, 1864, to provide for the printing of official reports of the operations of the armies of the United States arranged in their proper chronological order, since December 1, 1860, a large part of the report have been copied, and the work of copying the remainder is progressing. All officers of the Army from whom such reports are due and who have not forwarded them have been called upon the transmit them without delay. The work, when properly arranged and indexed as required by the resolution, will be of great historicad to completion until it can be properly done.
The report of Byt. Colonel C. W. Foster, assistant adjutant- general of volunteers, of the affairs of the Bureau for Colored Troops, is herewith submitted.* Colonel Foster has exhibited much ability and good judgment in conducting his business.
The officers of the Adjutant-General's Department are employed as follows:
One brigadier-general on special service organizing troops in the Southwest; one colonel in charge of the Adjutant-General's Office, War Department; one colonel and five majors, assistants in the Adjutant-General's Office; one lieutenant-colonel (brigadier-general of volunteers), adjutant-general of the Army of the Potomac; one lieutenant-colonel on duty at headquarters of a military department; one lieutenant-colonel, Provost-Marshal- General; one lieutenant-colonel,
*See p. 788.