national forces by draft when required; third, to arrest deserters and return them to their proper commands.
The public safety would have been risked by longer delay in the enactment of this law. A general apathy prevailed throughout the country on the subject of volunteering. Recruiting had subsided, while desertion had greatly increased and had grown into a formidable and widespread evil. The result of the important military operations during the first months of 1863 had been unfavorable and exercised a depressing effect on the public mind. The battle of Stone's River left the Army of the Cumberland crippled upon the field and forced it to inactivity for months in an intrenched camp. Our advance on Vicksburg by way of Haynes" Bluff had been repulsed with serious loss. A knowledge of the extent of the disaster at Fredricksburg had reached and dispirited the loyal people. The first attack disastrous campaign of Chancellorsville was made, and the Army of the Potomac once more confined to the defensive. The rebel army was stronger in numbers than at any other period of the war. And last, no least, a powerful party in the North, encouraged by these events, opposed the raising of the new levies and especially the enforcement of the new conscription law.
At this inauspicious stage of affairs this Bureau was brought into existence.
The duties required of it under the enrollment act were of vast exter securing the ends proposed were inadequately provided. No appropriation of money was made for its support. The only officers authorized under the law were Provost- Marshal-General with the rank of colonel and a provost-marshal for each Congressional district with the rank of captain. For the purposes of enrollment and draft a board was created in each district, consisting of the provost-marshal, a civilian, and a surgeon. This board had power to appoint persons to make the enrollment. No other means were designated by the original act to carry out its designs.
Organization of the Bureau of the Provost-Marshal-General.
On the 17th of March, 1863, I was assigned to duty as Provost- Marshal-General by order of the Secretary of War, a in pursuance of section 5 of the enrollment act.b
The raising of troops by draft was alone assigned by law to this Bureau. But on the 1st of May, 1863, an order was issued c giving it the superintendence of the entire volunteer recruiting service. The connection between these two modes of raising troops was so close that in order to insure harmony and success in their management it was necessary that both should be under the same bureau.
On the 28th of April, 1863, the Bureau was charged by general orders d framed by the chief of the Bureau with the organization of an Invalid Corps (later called Veteran Reserve Corps). The troops of the corps were to be under its control.
The business of the Bureau having become regulated in a general way, my own office was organized into seven several branches, viz:
First branch-general and miscellaneous business.-This embraced all that did not belong to other branches designated below. Two officers were put on duty in it. The first was, in fact, principal
a See Appendix, Doc. 21.
b See Appendix, Doc. 35.
c See Appendix, Doc. 22.
d See Appendix, Doc. 23.