men, a call designed to produce 300,000 men, allowing surplus to be credited on the call, would necessarily have been for 500,000 men.
Instead, therefore, of making the call for 500,000, the sum of the surplus and the number to be raised, the surplus was excluded, and the actual number of men required was called for, thus making the deduction for excess before issuing the call, instead of after, as had been done formerly.
The latter rule fixed with certainty the number of men to be obtained, while the former embraced a margin covering all surplus, and necessarily increased the number called for.
A call for 500,000, which was only intended to raise 300,000 new men, would not only produce the same effect at home and abroad as a call designed to put 500,000 men in service, but would mislead commanders in the field, who had no reason to suppose that the whole number called for would not be furnished.
It was the custom of the people to compute the number of men raised by adding together the different calls, thus showing a much greater number than had actually been furnished. It is scarcely necessary to allude to the constant efforts of the enemies of the Government to discourage enlistments for the Union Army, and to inspire the hopes of the rebel Government and people by magnifying the cost at which we had thus far prosecuted the war.
According to the formula adopted the proper quotas were arrived at, and though much of its workings seemed to the people inexplicable, its final results were correct and just. In subsequent calls, if there had been occasion therefor, this appearance of oppression and injustice, together with the seeming mystery in the operations of the formula, would have vanished, and in course of time we should have had a system of conscription whose symmetrical details and efficiency would have been satisfactory to all.
I have deemed it proper to treat this branch of the subject somewhat in detail because it has been made the objen by the press, and by parties affected by the rule which required deficient districts to make good their deficiency. The discussion of the rule adopted, and the experience had under it, confirm the fact that not only was the rule the right one, but that it was the only one which could have been properly used.
Before leaving this subject it may not be out of place to refer to the judicious guidance derived by this Bureau from the official advice of the Solicitor of the War Department. The military statutes regulating the action of the Provost-Marshal- General have been numerous, complicated, and sometimes apparently conflicting. To carry them into execution many orders had to be issued, and from time to time modified or entirely withdrawn. Some of these orders may have seemed arbitrary or illegal; but whenever a doubt was expressed in regard to the legality of the action of this Bureau the questions of law were submitted to the Solicitor. His opinions were in some instances printed and promulgated with or as a part of my orders. It is remarkable that not a single instance occurred in which the correctness of any of these opinions was disputed, so far as is known to this Bureau. In every case the legal opinion answered all objections to the order. It was enough to satisfy the people that the position taken was in accordance with the law. This silenced all further complaints and opposition. When it is remembered that the questions thus decided affected the personal rights and duties of many thousand of citizens, no better proof can be offered of the high moral character of the people