War of the Rebellion: Serial 126 Page 0559 UNION AUTHORITIES.

Search Civil War Official Records

of the respective companies to which the invalids were assigned. Months of the soldier's time were saved thus, and the soldier's time was the Government's money.


The men and officers of the Second Battalion have from the first been used almost entirely for hospital duty. In the early part of this official year an order was issued (General Orders, Numbers 306, Adjutant-General's Office, December 27, 1864) to the effect that companies or detachments of the battalion, with or without officers, according to the pleasure of the Surgeon-General, might be detached for guards, attendants, nurses, & c., at general hospitals, and that such companies should be mustered by the surgeon in charge, and should not be relieved except by order of the Secretary of War.

Finally it was judged expedient that the department which needed and employed this organization should have entire control of it.

An order was issued (General Orders, Numbers 43, Adjutant- General's Office, March 21, 1865) that all Second Battalion companies should be under the command of the Surgeon-General, to be assigned to duty at his discretion, and that their returns and rolls should henceforth be transmitted through him to the Adjutant-General of the Army. At this point, therefore, ceases the responsibility of the Bureau for the Second Battalion of the Veteran Reserve Corps.


The third notable event of this official year was General Orders, Numbers 116 (June 17, 1865), of the Adjutant-General's Office. The war had concluded with the destruction of the rebellion, and the vast volunteer army was being mustered out as rapidly as prudence would permit. What should be done with the men of the Veteran Reserve Corps? The War Department decided that, while those who had enlisted or re-enlisted in it were bound to serve as long as needed by the Government, the transferred men could allege strong claims to be mustered out with their former comrades. They had volunteered with them; they had taken the same oath, with the same purpose; they had shared as long as strength lasted their dangers and labors; why should they not share in their release? It was ordered that all transferred men who had not re-enlisted in the corps might claim their discharge from the date of the muster out of their original regiments. This order has swept the organization of 12,353 men and will eventually remove between 1,200 and 1,300 more.


General Orders, Numbers 76, Adjutant-General's Office, April 27, 1865, is important as being the result of the official experience of two years and a half in the organization of an invalid corps. It is unquestionable, it is entirely natural, and yet is it eminently praiseworthy that its provisions are more simple, practicable, and efficient than those of many of the preceding orders relating to the same subject? In the opening of the rebellion, when a million of soldiers were forced suddenly upon the Bureau of the War Department, mistakes and short-comings were inevitable. Amidst the gigantic novelty of the situation it was necessary to use old systems of official business until new ones of a larger grasp and quicker action could be drawn from the