War of the Rebellion: Serial 126 Page 0698 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.

Search Civil War Official Records

intelligence, the indomitable zeal and devotion of the officers. On the 1st day of May over a large portion of the Confederacy the service will be paralyzed. Leaving out the plea of harsh and cruel dealing with these officers, a large majority of whom are disabled by wounds and disease, and have resigned higher to take inferior commission, I regard this statement I have made as sufficient warrant for me to suggest a recommendation that Congress make some provision for reinstating these officers in the enrolling service with their proper commission.

VI. Another grave interruption has come, of the occasional but too frequent assignment of officers commanding in the field, to the duty of conscription and recruiting in particular localities. In every instance this has unduly disturbed the production of the country-has violated legal rights-has failed to send men into the field-and has been unjust to the general service. In no instance has an officer commanding in the field, charged with local conscription, sent a conscript out of his department. The assumption by local authorities to determine liability to service has uniformly been detrimental, keeping unnecessarily many from the field and impeding and delaying the conscript officers in sending others.

VII. In my report of December 5, 1863, I estimated that nearly one-third more men went into the field directly under the compulsion of the law than passed through the camps of instruction. My belief is that the proportion has been increased since the passage of the acts of 5th of January and 17th of February-that is, that the conscript rolls and assignments will not exhibit one-half the number of men who have gone into the service since the 5th of January. Proper returns to the Adjutant and Inspector General's Office should make an accurate exhibit of these accretions. General orders have been inoperative to prevent this mode of direct volunteering; and requisitions for the men by enrolling officers and this Bureau have been unheeded. The abuse exists in every military department. Your attention is respectfully and earnestly invited to this matter, and a rigid inspection of company rolls is recommended.

VIII. The applications for details in the various departments of the Government and in other pursuits have increased and are daily increasing. The allegation of public necessity is generally set forth, and it is very difficult for this Bureau to determine. I have endeavored to limit such details as rigidly as possible, but have not succeeded to the extent which it appears to me the public service demands. My opinion is that all proper labor, except of mechanical experts and agriculturists, can, by due effort, be furnished from the exempt classes, the Reserves, the Light-duty Conscripts, and the Invalid Corps, and that there is no absolute necessity, at this time, for one detail in ten of the able-bodied men between eighteen and forty-five. I believe stern adherence to a rule embracing this conclusion would not diminish the vigor of the productive industry to any appreciable extent.

The exceptions, are very rare which involve a permanent necessity of departing from the provisions of section 8 and 9 of the act of February 17, 1864. At present there is not one department of the Government or one enterprise in the country which is not clamoring for such departure. The various bureaus of Government ask over 12,000 able-bodied men. The railroads ask at least one brigade beyond the allowance of exempts. The express companies demand nearly a regiment, and State authorities fully 10,000. Wherever a contract is made with the Government in which a large profit is provided, the Government is immediately called upon to do the work for which it pays. Thus a railroad, an express, telegraph, or manufacturing company contracts with the Government and lays its profits; it then asks the Government to detail from the Army or abstain from the military use of all the labor necessary to fulfill the contract. The evil is an enormous one. The authority of this Bureau is not competent to the remedy.

IX. In many localities it has been found expedient, indeed necessary, to suspend wholly or partially the operations of conscription. This has been done in localities between the lines of our armies and those of the enemy-so far as the reserve classes are concerned-for the obvious reason of preventing those classes from becoming prisoners of war, and it has been extend to all classes within the enemy's lines from the impossibility of the enrolling officers operating. In the First Congressional District of North Carolina the whole matter has been turned over to the Governor of that State, the men to be used for State defense.

X. Frequent complaints are made of the inefficiency and corruption of the enrolling officers. Such complaints are made against the generals in the field and all the departments of the Government. In the case of enrolling officers they are sometimes well founded, and active efforts are made to remedy the evils. In general, however, these complaints are the results of ignorance, or the baffled endeavor to escape the service, or of malice, because the duty of the officers of conscription requires them to exempt certain for sufficient legal reasons. I can congratulate you on the assurance that the chief officers in the enrolling