THE DIFFICULTIES ENCOUNTERED.
The principal difficulties encountered in performing the duties of this office consisted in obtaining suitable quarters for the transaction of the business of the office (which has been treated at length under the head of establishment of headquarters), and in procuring enrolling officers.
The chief difficulty, however, was that of obtaining enrolling officers, but I am unable to discover any more practicable mode of making the enrollment than the one adopted. Surely no one could be more competent to make the enrollment than a person who resides in the locality and is familiar with the names and residences of those to be enrolled; and it only remains with the provost-marshal in making the appointment to select the officer with reference to strict integrity and capacity and urge upon him the importance and necessity of accepting the appointment.
It is my opinion that the enrolling officers should be examined by the provost-marshal as to their fitness before entering upon the duties. This would, in my judgment, have prevented much of the embarrassment which has been the result of incompetency.
MERITS AND DEMERITS OF THE LAWS, REGULATIONS, AND ORDERS COVERNING THE PROVOST-MARSHAL-GENERAL'S BUREAU.
I have not been able, as far as my experience and observation have gone, to discover any serious defects in existing laws, regulations, and orders governing the Provost-Marshal-General's Bureau. On the contrary, I have been impressed with their practical adaptation to the wants and interests of the service.
The only defect, in my judgment, which I have discovered in the laws which I deem of sufficient importance to mention is the restriction imposed by section 14, act approved March 3, 1865, touching credits to sub-districts, &c. This section reads as follows:
That hereafter all persons mustered into the military or naval service, whether as volunteers, substitutes, representatives, or otherwise, shall be credited to the State, and to the ward, township, precinct, or other enrollment sub-district where such persons belong by actual residence (if such persons have an actual residence within the United States), and where such persons were or shall be enrolled (if liable to enrollment).
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This section, if I give it a correct interpretation, disqualifies persons who have an actual residence in one sub-district, or persons who have been enrolled, from being credited to another under any circumstances. The protection afforded to persons enrolled in one sub-district against the encroachments of the people enrolled in others is, in my judgment, proper until the quota of that sub-district, under the call then pending, has been filled, but after this has been accomplished it is my opinion that all persons residing or who may be enrolled in such sub- district should be allowed to enlist to the credit of any other locality they may elect in the Congressional district.
The reason which prompts me to make this suggestion is that the citizens of most of the sub-districts have heretofore offered local bounties as an inducement to persons to enlist to the credit of their respective sub-districts until the quotas thereof under the pending call have been filled, and the State and the several counties have also offered large bounties to persons who would enlist and be credited as part of the quota under said call.
55 R R-SERIES III, VOL V