If the casualties of service destroy a brigade or a division the commission of the general expires, and if separated from his command by ill-health, wounds, or detached service, it is left without a head, there being no authority to appoint a successor without vacating the commission of the first appointee.
The Army, moreover, requires the service of generals not attached to brigades and divisions. There are certain duties which can be better performed by general officers than by officers of lower grade, but the merit requisite for the discharge of these duties secures promotion in the line and officers of the line are therefore unwilling to surrender their positions for staff appointments. Brigades and divisions are sometimes temporarily deprived of their commanders by the casualties of service, and it is desirable to assign general officers to such commands. It will be well, therefore, to increase the number of general officers to a definite excess above the whole number, not exceeding 8 or 10 per cent., for the purposes above mentioned.
Congress at its last session authorized the appointment of eighty artillery officers for ordnance duties, the addition of fifty engineers to the Provisional Corps, and the organization of a Signal Corps, and a Niter Corps.
All of these acts have been carried into execution. Eighty-artillery officers for ordnance duty have been appointed and their duties prescribed and systematized. General orders, Nos. 24* and 46+, herewith returned, require that every army corps shall have an ordnance officer with the rank of major, every division one with the rank of captain, every brigade one with the rank of first lieutenant, and every regiment an ordnance-sergeant. These form a corps under the Chief of?Ordnance at Richmond, to whom they are required to report. Their services are important for the proper distribution and preservation of arms. Ordnance officers are also required for arsenals. For the proper discharge of ordnance duties at arsenals and in the field it will require a corps of at least 150.
I recommend, therefore, that application be made for the enlargement of the corps to that number, and that a limited number be authorized with the grade of major for service with army corps.
Most of the additional engineers have been appointed and the corps has done good service. The present law permits no higher grade than that of captain, while the other corps of the Provisional Army are organized in conformity with corresponding corps in the C. S. Army. This discrimination is unjust and impolitic. If men of talent and acquirement are needed in this corps, promotion should be offered equal to that attainable in other branches of the service.
Engineering talent is of a higher order of endowment, and should be stimulated by proper rewards. I recommend, therefore, that the grade of the Provisional Engineer Corps should be made to conform to those of the same corps in the C. S. Army.
A Signal Corps has been organized by General Orders, No. 40, a copy of which is herewith returned. ++ For the purpose of systematic instruction a confidential pamphlet has been prepared by a member of the corps and printed with due precautions to avoid publicity. Should it, however, fall into the enemy's hands no great harm would be done, as it contains the principles of the art merely, and does not disclose the key to any signal or cipher.
*See VOL. I this series, p. 1065.
+See July 1, p. 1.
++See VOL. I, this series, p. 1131.