War of the Rebellion: Serial 126 Page 0804 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.

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The Bureau of the Provost-Marshal-General had just been established, and its practical operation, as well as its adaptation to meet the great national exigency which called it into being, had yet to be tested. The gigantic proportions which the war had assumed, the recent reverses to the Federal arms, and the enormous expansion of the military policy of the Government, together with the hitherto untried expedient of raising men by conscription, had, at the time I assumed the duties of my office here, conspired to create a state of feverish excitement and apprehension in the public mind, all of which added to the embarrassments already referred to.

Two small rooms, not very accessible or commodious, sufficed for a few months for the comparatively limited requirements of the office; but by the close of the summer of 1863 the rapidly expanding business of the position made it necessary to secure larger quarters, and I accordingly rented a small frame building, consisting of four rooms with ample grounds attached, and much more eligibly situated than the place at first occupied. I had scarcely become established in my new quarters when the inauguration of the vigorous system of recruiting adopted in September, 1863, of which I was made superintendent for Illinois, required a still further increase of office accommodations, which was for the time being supplied by an additional building containing seven rooms, conveniently situated immediately opposite the one just referred to. These two buildings answered the purpose until the spring of 1864, when the continued and rapid increase of the business of the office demanded a still further enlargement of office facilities, and resulted in the transfer of my headquarters to the building which I now occupy, being a large brick structure containing fifteen rooms, with ample grounds, and most eligibly and pleasantly situated. While referring to this subject I would add that my experience in the use of office rooms and facilities, through all the gradations from the poorest up to the best, is dven on the score of economy to the Government, the increased amount and improved quality of the work that can be done in an office possessing all necessary conveniences more than counterbalancing the additional expense.


For about a month after opening the office I managed to transact the business with the assistance of but one clerk, and during the next three months I had but two; after which, the great expansion of the work of the office already referred to required a corresponding increase in my clerical force. The largest number of clerks on duty at any one time in my office, as acting assistant provost-marshal-general of Illinois, was ten. For a full tabular view of the several clerks on duty in this department, with the dates of their several contracts, dates of approval, and discharge or resignation, rates of compensation, and the duties to which each was assigned, see Schedule No. 1, in the Appendix to this report.

The Provost-Marshal-General is aware of how much depends upon the ability and fidelity of the necessary clerical force in the effective conduct of any business, but specially in the discharge of duties requiring such promptitude and accuracy as those connected with the subordinate departments of his Bureau. In this respect I cannot but consider myself as having been particularly fortunate, and refer with especial pleasure to the devotion and faithfulness, and to the spirit of