of Congress seem to have selected, as a rule, only those who, on account of attainments, experience, and honesty,they considered best fitted for the position.
The position of the surgeon on boards of enrollment has been one of much responsibility.
Maligned by those whom he failed to consider entitled to exemption, and accused of exempting those not disabled, he has been placed between two dilemmas. If he exempted too great a proportion he was liable to censure from his official superiors. If the number of exempted men was small, the community accrued him of forcing cripples and men at the point of death into the Army. Should he reject a large per cent. of substitutes or recruits, the district, being anxious to fill the quota and thus escape the draft, accused him of being hypercritical in his examinations, and said that he rejected ablebodied men.
On the other hand, he was liable not only to official censure in case he accepted disabled substitutes and recruits, but his pay was liable to be stopped, and all expenses attending the enlistment of the disabled man deducted therefrom.
His position being then one by no means enviable, it is a matter of no little surprise that the services of medical gentlemen of such ability in their profession were secured or retained.
I would recommend, instead of the present method of appointing surgeons of boards of enrollment that they be supplied by detail of those medical officers in the service who, by experience and talent, are evidently fitted for the position. I would also suggest that they have, while serving on boards of enrollment, the rank, pay, and emoluments of surgeons in the Army.
Should this be found impracticable, I would recommend that surgeons of boards of enrollment be appointed and commissioned as such only after due and careful examination as to their ability to perform the duties pertaining to the position, and that they have the rank, pay,and emoluments of surgeons in the Army.
It is also iey be stationed in othericts than those in which they reside, and that their stations be changed at least once in six months,or after the completion of each draft.
This would obviate the great difficulty with which surgeons of boards of enrollment have had to contend, viz, the pressure of sectional feelings, and their being stationed where a proper discharge of duties would not interfere with their future professional prospects or their individual feelings.
Thee also should be detailed upon the staff of each acting assistant provost-marshal-general a commissioned medical officer of experience and ability to act as medical inspector, and, under the direction of such acting assistant provost-marshal-general, to have supervision of all medical matters pertaining to boards of enrollment in the State or division to which he may be assigned.
Such medical officer should examine and forward all medical reports of surgeons of boards, and report at least monthly the result of his labors. He should be guided in his decisions by the regulations of this Bureau, and by such other instructions as might be sent him by order of the Provost-Marshal-General.
The detail of such an officer would obviate many of the difficulties which have been encountered in the past experience of this Bureau.