War of the Rebellion: Serial 126 Page 0126 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.

Search Civil War Official Records

GENERAL ORDERS,

WAR DEPT., ADJT. GENERAL'S OFFICE,

Numbers 152.

Washington, October 17, 1865.

Hereafter no person shall be arrested as a deserter for having failed to report under any draft, or for any other non-compliance with the enrollment act or the amendments thereto. Any and all persons of this class now held will be immediately discharged.

By order of the Secretary of War:

E. D. TOWNSEND,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

HEADQUARTERS ARMIES OF THE UNITED STATES,

Washington, October 20, 1865.

Honorable E. M. STANTON,

Secretary of War:

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the reduction of the Army, and to make some suggestions for the reorganization of the Regular Army. The surrender of the rebel armies and the collapse of the rebellion rendered a large part of our military force unnecessary, and immediate steps were taken to reduce it by stopping enlistments, discharging non-effectives, and the muster out of men and regiments whose terms of service expired before given dates.

By the 1st of July, 1865, the spirit in which the results of the war were accepted by the South was known. Already two months have passed without a collision of any importance between the soldiers of the rebel army returned to their homes and our troops. Everywhere submission was perfect, and all that was asked by them was permission to resume the ordinary pursuits of civil life. The reduction of the Army was now made by organizations, and during the month of July the two most important armies in the country- that of the Potomac and of the Tennessee-returned to the people from whom they had come four years before. Since that time the reduction of troops left in the Southern States to secure order and protect the freedmen in the liberty conferred on them has been gradually going on in proportion as continued quiet and good order have justified it.

On the 1st of May, 1865, the aggregate of the military force of the United States was 1,000,516 men.* On October 20th this had been reduced, as it is estimated, to 210,000, and further reductions are still being made. These musters out were admirably conducted, 800,000 men passing from the Army to civil life so quietly that it was scarcely known, save by the welcomes to their homes received by them. The ordinary process was to muster out the regiments in the field or wherever they might be, transport them as organizations to the States from which they came, and there pay them off and discharge them from service.

The apprehensions felt by some, of disturbance and disorder at so vast a force being suddenly thrown upon the country to resume the occupations of civil life after having been so long absent from them, proved entirely unfounded, the soldiers showing by their conduct that devotion to their country in the field is no disqualification for devotion to it at home.

At the beginning of the war our small Regular Army was barely adequate to protect our overland routes and our Indian frontier and

*But see Vol. IV, of this series, p. 1283, for a latter official compilation showing an aggregate of 1,052,038.