War of the Rebellion: Serial 128 Page 0224 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.

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nearest enrolling officer, and otherwise to facilitate the discharge of his duty. These instructions have been obeyed to the extent of my official information. It is certainly the case that many attempts have been made by designing men to avoid military service through niter as well as through commissary, ordnance, and other contracts of the service, and whatever ground there really exists for complaint comes from this source. But in no one instance thus far has any agent of this Bureau been found to be improperly connected therewith. One case is now under official investigation upon specified charges called for from the office complaining. The number of these communications is owing to the frequent change of the enrolling and recruiting officers and their entire misapprehension of the nature and wants of the niter service. Previous to the issue of Order 66 our workmen were forcibly taken from niter works, and three times from one of the Virginia caves. Frequent apologies have been made for wrong done when facts were ascertained, and in one case by a general commanding department. But I regret to perceive from an official indorsement of Judge Campbell, referred to, that the amended does not reach the office which files these complaints, and that a misapprehension injurious to the service and unjust to the officers of this corps is fast gaining ground, viz, that the niter service if not an evasion of public duty is at least of secondary importance.

With two or three unimportant exceptions, appointments in the Niter Corps as officers or agents were not solicited but were tendered; in several cases, upon an appeal from the superintendent, higher rank and more desirable service have been given up. I am sure that I speak for all the officers of this Bureau, in saying that they continue their present employment only under a sense of duty, and they do not wish to continue-though conscript labor be necessary.

Also, whether the labor necessary to produce saltpeter shall stand on the same footing as to exempt with that in ordnance shops and foundries, or otherwise.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Major and Superintendent.


In transmitting this communication I deem it just to the office of the Niter Bureau to say that whatever suspicions now cast upon their organization of the Bureau-irregularities which they have labored successfully to correct in most cases.

It was reported to me that an officer of the Subsistence Department in North Carolina undertook to give niter contracts to his neighbor, without the shadow of authority, and that he gave exemptions upon such contracts. Such unauthorized action it has been the duty of this corps of officers to correct, but they have nevertheless borne a this corps of officers to correct, but they have nevertheless borne a portion of the odium arising from them.

I commend the suggestion of Major St. John to special attention.