HEADQUARTERS CAMP OF INSTRUCTION,
Near Richmond, November 6, 1862.
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General:
GENERAL: Accompanying my report, herewith inclosed, I have the honor to submit the following statement: The report only gives the operations of this and the camp of instruction at Dublin Depot. The counties of the Valley have been nearly drained of conscripts by officers sent for the purpose by Major-General Jackson, and the men never accounted for to me, with the exception of those reported by Colonel M. G. Harman, Fifty-second Virginia Regiment, enrolling officer at Staunton. The same is the case with all the counties within the influence of Major-General Loring's command. Undoubtedly a very large number of conscripts have been collected and sent to the armies of the Valley and Southwestern Virginia who do not appear upon my report, which is chiefly confined to the eastern portion of the State. The discrepancy between the "total number enrolled as liable to duty" and the total number actually received into the camps of instruction is due to the fact that a great may of the men fail to report at the time and place appointed, and others desert en route. The enrolling officers, as a general thing not being provided with competent guards, have not the means of preventing this, but many of these men subsequently join volunteer companies already in the service, and should be properly accounted for to me by the officers receiving them. The number of desertions from this camp have been about 140 up to this time; four-fifths of these have been substitutes deserting within twenty-four hours of their being received as such. I have endeavored in every way to protect the Government in this matter of substitutes, even to retaining the money until they are assigned, but with no success. Either some example should be made of them or the principal be in some manner held responsible. I should be pleased to receive any suggestions or instructions concerning this subject from the Department. A majority of the enrolling officers have failed or not deemed it necessary to report to me the number or deserters, stragglers, &c., arrested by them and returned to their respective regiments. I am confident the number so arrested is very large, nearly equaling the conscripts, from the verbal statements of these officers, and it should be credited to the recruiting conscripts service. I shall instruct the officers hereafter to make their reports embrace this class as well as the conscripts. At the beginning of the conscripts service I was mainly dependent upon the State officers for purpose of enrollment, but subsequently received the services of many regular C. S. officers. Nine out of ten State officers and a large number of C. S. officers proving inefficient, have been from time to time relieved. Now that the act has been extended to embrace all persons between eighteen and forty, I respectfully request that I may be permitted to select from the regular service such officers as I know will render efficient service in enrolling and reporting the conscripts promptly into camp. In this connection I have already brought to your attention the names of Major Cabell, Captain McPhail, and one or two others. I propose to assign a superior officer to each Congressional district, who will have entire charge of the business in his district, receiving the reports of subordinate officers int he different counties, and forwarding the conscripts as enrolled to the nearest camp of instruction. He will also