The establishment of medical depots within reach of armies in the field and their prompt supply upon the field of battle; the transportation of sick and wounded by ambulance, railroad, and hospital transports; the sufficiency and successful administration of the best system of general hospitals; the sanitary precautions as well as the minor details of this department, tending to the greater comfort of the sick and wounded as well as to the health and efficiency of the troops, have during the year undergone the severest possible test, and in no instance have the movements of successful generals been impeded or delayed from any cause within the control of the Medical Department.
House bill Numbers 543, Thirty-eighth Congress, having passed the House of Representatives, was not reached in the Senate and awaits final action. The proposed and well-deserved promotion of meritorious medical offices cannot fail to increase their efficiency by placing them upon equal footing with those of other staff corps in regard to local rank, and it is respectfully submitted that the faithful performance or arduous duties by officers of the medical staff should be recognized and rewarded by brevets equally with the other branches of the service.
The Army Medical Museum continues to increase in value, and is already one of the most instructive pathological collections in the world. A descriptive catalogue is in course of preparation, an examination of which will, it is thought, fully establish the importance of this institution in connection with the surgical and medical history of the war.
From the report of the Provost-Marshal-General* will be seen-- the national forces, the lists on the 1st of November last containing the names of 2,794,226.
Second. The results of the drafts made in 1863 and 1864, given in tabular form, from which it appears that on the 31st day of July last there was no material deficiency in the United States on the quotas of troops required, such localities as were behind having been drafted for the amounts due from them. The draft made under the call of July 18, 1864, was in progress at the date of the Provost-Marshal-General's report. This draft came on during the heat of the late Presidential campaign, and resistance to its was threatened in many places, and in some actually organized. The Provost-Marshal-General justly claims special credit for the officers acting under him for the firmness and fairness with which they executed the law of Congress and the orders of the Government in making this draft, and for the success which attended their efforts.
Third. The results of the volunteer recruiting service, under the different calls for troops dated February 1, March 14, and July 18, 1864, are given. In reference to the re- enlistment of veteran volunteers during the fall of 1863, the Provost-Marshal-General says:
Over 136,000 tried soldiers, who would otherwise, ere this, have been discharged, were secured for three longer. Organizations which would have been lost to the service were preserved and recruited, and capable and experienced officers were retained in command. The force thus organized and retained has performed an essential part in the great campaign of 1864, and its importance to the country cannot be overestimated.
I concur in the foregoing remarks, and know of no operation connected with the recruitment of the Army which has resulted in more advantage to the service than the one referred to.
*See p. 925.