War of the Rebellion: Serial 128 Page 0055 CONFEDERATE AUTHORITIES.

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emergencies not now anticipated. The very large increase of forces recently called into the field by the President of the United States may render it necessary hereafter to extend the provisions of the conscript law so as to embrace persons between the ages of thirty-five and forty-five years. The vigor and efficiency of our present forces, their condition, and skill and ability which distinguish their leaders inspire the belief that no further enrollment will be necessary, but a wise foresight requires that if a necessity should be suddenly developed during the recess of Congress requiring increased forces for our defense, means should exist for calling such forces into the field without awaiting the reassembling of the legislative department of the Government.

In the election and appointment of officers for the Provisional Army is was to be anticipated that mistakes would be made and incompetent officers of all grades introduced into the service. In the absence of experience, and with no reliable guide for selection, executive appointments as well as elections have been sometimes unfortunate. The good of the service, the interests of our country, require that some means be devised for withdrawing the commissions of officers who are incompetent for the duties required by their position, and I trust you will find means for relieving the Army of such officers by some mode more prompt and less wounding to their sensibility than the judgment of a court-martial.

Within a recent period we have effected the object so long desired of an arrangement for the exchange of prisoners, which is now being executed by delivery at the points agreed upon, and which will, it is hoped, speedily restore our brave and unfortunate countrymen to their places in the ranks of the Army, from which by the fortune of war they have for a time been separated. The details of this arrangement will be communicated to you in a special report when further progress has been made in their execution.

Of other particulars concerning the operations of the War Department you will be informed by the Secretary in his report and the accompanying documents.

The report of the Secretary of the Navy* embraces a statement of the operations and present condition of this branch of the public service, both afloat and ashore; the construction and equipment of armed vessels both at home and aborad; the manufacture of ordnance and ordnance stores; and the establishment of workshops and the development of our resources of coal and iron. Some legislation seems essential for securing crews for vessels. The difficulties now experienced on this point are fully stated in the Secretary's report, and I invite your attention to providing a remedy.

The report of the Postmaster-General* discloses the embarrassments which resulted in the postal service from the occupation by the enemy of the Mississippi River and portions of the territory of the different States. The measures taken by the Department for relieving these embarrassments as far as practicable are detailed in the report. It is a subject of congratulation that during the ten months which ended on the 31st March last the expenses of the Department were largely decreased, whilst its revenue was augmented, as compared with a corresponding period ending on the 30th June, 1860, when the postal service for these States was conducted under the authority delegated to the United States. Sufficient time has not yet

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*Omitted.

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