The disbursements from the first two named appropriations, to wit, "Collecting, organizing, and drilling volunteers," and "Pay of advance bounty," were made by officers of the Regular Army, assigned especially to that duty, and stationed at convenient points in the different States. They were supplied with funds by requisitions on the Treasury, and made their returns to that Department in a manner similar to that of disbursing officers in the regular supply departments of the Army, acting under the direction of the Adjutant-General until May 1, 1863, and of the Provost-Marshal-General from that date to the present time.
In organizing the Bureau of the Provost-Marshal-General it was of course foreseen that the business would require in every district the expenditure of money for a great variety of purposes. There were many strong reasons why the accounts should, if possible, be paid without putting money into the hands of the provost-marshals as disbursing officers. Accordingly, a plan differing from that pursued by other bureaus was adopted. Provost-marshals were instructed as to what indebtedness they could properly incur, and were furnished with the forms of vouchers and returns to be used. They were directed, after preparing and certifying the vouchers, to send for payment to the Provost-Marshal-General at Washington. With a view to their prompt settlement, a special branch was established in this office, consisting, besides the necessary clerks, &c., of one officer in charge and four assistants, as disbursing officers, each in charge of a division. The accounts of the Bureau were distributed for examination and payment as fast as received among these four divisions, as follows:
First Division, payment of employes; Second Division, payment of employes; Third Division, payment of travel pay to drafted men, postage, telegrams, advertising, subsistence, and lodging of employes not in military service, and expenses of arrest of deserters; Fourth Division, payment of expenses in purchase of public property and of rents and transportation.
The officers in charge of these disbursing divisions were furnished with funds by requisitions on the Treasury. They kept deposits in the various U. S. depositories throughout the region of country in which they had to make payments. As soon as the accounts received from provost-marshals were examined and found to be correct the disbursing officers paid them by checks on the most convenient depository, drawn in favor of the part entitled to the money. (For details see Appendix, Document 9.)
This system had various advantages, among which may be mentioned the following, viz:
1. No accounts were paid until the Provost-Marshal-General (who was required by law to audit them) was satisfied that they were correct. An immense saving of money unquestionably resulted from this. As the amounts had to be examined in Washington and pronounced correct and just according to the rules of this Bureau and the Treasury Department before they could be paid, the officers and parties interested were thereby stimulated to promptness and accuracy in their preparation.
2. The Treasury Department had to keep accounts with only four officers instead of nearly 200, as would have been the case if provost-marshals had been made disbursing officers. Uniformity in the payments was secured and the chances for loss were greatly diminished by using a few instead of many disbursing officers, and having them in Washington, under the immediate supervision of the Bureau, and requiring that their time be given exclusively to this business.