districts have been consolidated, and one provost-marshal is acting for two or morel consolidated districts. The arrest of deserters by this Bureau cannot therefore be effected, unless it is deemed best by the Secretary of War to order that provost- marshals employ and pay suitable persons for that purpose, or that a reward be allowed for the arrest and delivery of deserters to provost-marshals, the reward being made large enough to induce outsiders to engage in the business. Section 21 of the act approved March 3, 1865, is as follows:
SEC. 21. And be it further enacted. That, in addition to the other lawful penalties of the crime of desertion from the military or naval service, all persons who have deserted the military or naval service of the United States, who shall not return t said service, or report themselves to a provost-marshal, within sixty days after the proclamation hereinafter mentioned, shall be deemed and taken to have voluntarily relinquished and forfeited their rights of citizenship and their rights to become citizens; and such deserters shall be forever incapable of holding any office of trust or profit under the United States, or of exercising any rights of citizens thereof; and all persons who shall hereafter desert the military or naval service, and all persons who, being duly enrolled, shall depart the jurisdiction of the district in which he is enrolled, or go beyond the limits of the United States, with intent to avoid any draft into the military or naval service, duly ordered, shall be liable to the penalties of this section. And the President is hereby authorized and required forthwith, on the passage of this act, to issue his proclamation setting forth the provisions of this section, in which proclamation the President is requested to notify all deserters returning within sixty days as aforesaid, that they shall be pardoned on condition of returning to their regiments and companies, or to such other organization as they may be assigned to, until they shall have served for a period of time equal to their original term of enlistment.
To make this law operative the fact of desertion should be established and announced in each case, if possible. The undertaking however, would be one of magnitude. Two hundred and sixty thousand there hundred, and thirty-nine men have been reported too this office as deserters from the Army. I estimate that 25 per cent. of these are not deserters in fact, but are men who became absentees unintentionally or unavoidably, and afterward returned to duty. Adopting this estimate, the total number of desertions appears to be 195,255 from the ranks of the Army. Seventy-six thousand two hundred and fifty-three deserters have been arrested by this Bureau, as required by the seventh section of the enrollment act, approved March 3, 1863, which is still in force and is as follows:
SEC. 7. And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of the provost-marshals to arrest all deserters, whether regular, volunteer, militiamen, or persons called into the service under this or any other act of Congress, wherever they may be found, and to send them to the nearest military commission or military post.
Only 1,775 deserters surrendered themselves under the President's proclamation of March 11, 1865, offering pardon to all who would return to duty. There are therefore still at large 117,247 deserters from the ranks of the Army. This number does not include the non reporting drafted men, who are deemed deserters by the law; of this class there are, by the reports, 161,286. It may be estimated that 30 per cent. of these are excusable, some having entered the service after having been drafted, others were absent at sea, and for various other causes the absence of many was unavoidable and excusable. Making the reduction of 30 per cent. gives 112,901 as the number of non reporting drafted men who are deemed deserters, which, added to the number of deserters from the ranks, makes the total number of deserters still at large 230,148.
JAMES B. FRY,