War of the Rebellion: Serial 126 Page 1037 UNION AUTHORITIES.

Search Civil War Official Records

Active and careful measures have been instituted for successfully and speedily carrying into effect the generous provisions of Congress for the benefit of surviving soldiers of the war for the Union. The subject of the payment of extra bounties to discharged soldiers and extra pay to discharged officers has received assiduous attention. The recent law devolving upon the War Department, instead of the accounting officers of the Treasury, the duties of examination and settlement of claims of this nature imposed a vast accumulation of labor and required the consideration of numerous acts of Congress and the regulations and practice of several bureaus. Upon the proper performance of these extraordinary depends the disbursement of nearly $80,000,000 among more than 1,000,000 claimants. Soon after the adjournment of Congress a competent board of officers was organized to prepare rules and regulations for the payment of the authorized bounties. Diligent application was given to the work, and the regulations, having found to be in strict accordance with law, were promptly approved, published, and directed to be carried into effect. To the same board the subject of bounties for colored soldiers was also referred, with a view to provide any additional checks that might guard the bounty from fraudulent assignees and secure it to colored soldiers and protect the Treasury against fraud; and when the report was received payment of the bounties was ordered. As to the other class of bounties, the Paymaster-General regards it impracticable to make payment until all applications shall have been received and claims classified and registered by States and organizations, but by this preliminary process the ultimate payment of all will, it is believed, be greatly expedited. Attempted otherwise, probably the work would never be fully accomplished. Of the valuable public records by which the validity of the bounty claims is to tested, there is in the archives of the Government but one copy, already much worn, for each period. An examination for each individual case would soon reduce them to illegible shreds.

The duty of the Government to the soldiers who have been maimed or have fallen in its defense has not been neglected. Much care has been taken, by precautions and practical tests, to secure for the former the most durable, useful, and comfortable artificial limbs. From July 16, 1862, the date of the act of Congress authorizing artificial limbs to be furnished, to July 1, 1866, there have been supplied to disabled soldiers 3,981 legs, 2,240 arms, 9 feet, 55 hands, 125 surgical apparatus, and it is supposed that not more than 1,000 limbs remain still to be supplied, at an estimated of $70,000. In order to include unfortunate cases in which, from the nature of the injury or operation, no limb or other surgical appliance can be advantageously adopted, the Surgeon-General has recommended that if the appropriation for this purpose shall be continued, the money value of an artificial limb, in lieu of an order for the apparatus, be given to the maimed soldier. Forty-one national military cemeteries have been established, and into these had already been gathered, on June 30, the remains of 104,562 Union soldiers. The sites for ten additional cemeteries have been selected, and the work upon them, for some time delayed by the climate and a threatened epidemic, is now in course of vigorous prosecution. Although it may not be desirable to remove the remains of those now reposing in other suitable burial grounds, it is estimated that our national cemeteries will be required to receive and protect the remains of 249,397 patriotic soldiers whose lives were