for subsistence and transportation. Each camp has its commanding officer, its drill officers, its commissary, quartermaster, and surgeon. The conscripts are to be assembled, drilled, taken through the camp diseases, and distributed among the regiments of the State in proportion to their respective deficiencies.
The necessity of sending them immediately into the field has interfered with this plan of operations, but it has been carried out as far as practicable, and during any period of comparative inactivity it can be fully executed. Recruits thus prepared for the field will be little inferior to old soldiers, and the Army will be relieved from its crowded hospitals and the long train of ineffectives that now drags in its rear.
The greatest difficulty encountered in the execution of the law has been that which constitutes the chief impediment in all involuntary military systems-the enrollment of recruits. The third section of the act requires the enrolling officers of the State to be used with the consent of the respective Governors, and it is only on failure to obtain such consent that the President is authorized to employ Confederate officers.
The military systems of many of the States are fallen into such disuse that there are either no enrolling officers, or none that can be relied on. So far the experiment of using State officers has proved a failure, and I would suggest that permission be given to resort to other measures for enrolling recruits.
This may be done either by the appointment of a certain number of enrolling officers for each Congressional district, or by giving each corps supernumerary officers to act as enrolling officers for the corps. The latter plan would probably give more activity and efficiency to enrollments than the former, as the enrolling officers would by under military control, and if inefficient, might be ordered back to their regiments and be substituted by others.
The fourth and thirteenths actions of the act require all conscripts and volunteers to enter companies in existence at the passage of the act, thus cutting off recruits for companies mustered into service after that time. The object of this restriction was apparent, the new companies then forming were allowed thirty days to complete their organization, and had the advantage over companies in the field in recruiting. It was supposed necessary, therefore, to restore equality by giving the conscripts and volunteers after thirty days to the old companies.
The effect will be that many fine regiments brought into service since the passage of the act will go down for the want of recruits. I think it will be well to permit conscripts to be assigned and volunteers to enter all companies in service.
It is true that the number of regiments is already too great, and that it is impossible to keep them all up. This may have been a motive for restricting recruits to old regiments and permitting the others gradually to decline. But it will be better to discriminate in the reduction of the number of regiments, and to consolidate such as become too weak to be recruited. The power of consolidating regiments, battalions, and companies is so essenties cannot be maintained in a tolerable state of efficiency without its exercise. The Department has been compelled to disband corps because useless from loss of men or other cause, but as the law now stands this can only be done by discharging the entire corps and enrolling the men within the conscript age for service in other companies.