War of the Rebellion: Serial 128 Page 0286 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.

Search Civil War Official Records

extorted from our obdurate foes, in their own Capital or on their own conquered soil, permanent peace and independence. At the culminating point of our late successful advances could 50,000 more troops of the Confederacy have been added to the victorious armies of Generals Lee and Brag the full fruition of our highest hopes would almost have been assured. In no spirit of vain regret is this reflection indulged, but because of its deep practical monition for the future. In lieu of such happy consummation our triumphal progress war arrested and our victorious armies compelled to retire before the hosts summoned to the field by the large draft of the Federal Government. The same necessity is therefore again pressing on our people whit scarce less stringent urgency. In wise provision of it the second act of conscription, heretofore referred to, was judiciously provided by Congress at its last session, givilency the power to call into the Provisional Army all subject to military duty between the ages of thirty-five and forty-five, or such part thereof as in your judgment was necessary to the public defense. Under this act you have called into service, for the present, only those between the ages of thirty-five and forty who are subject to military service and not exempted by an act passed soon after, known as the exemption act, exempting certain classes of persons and such others as the President shall be satisfied, on account of justice, equity, or necessity ought to be exempted. This call, as well as the first act of conscription, are now being actively executed by the Department. A sub-bureau, attached to the Adjutant-General's Department, has been organized, charged with this subject exclusively. In every State one or more camps of instruction for the reception and training of conscripts has been, or is being, established in judiciously selected locations. To each State an officer, styled a commandant of conscripts, is appointed, charged with the supervision of the enrollment and instruction of conscripts, and he recommends a surgeon, a quartermaster, a commissary and the drill-masters requisite.

Pursuant to another act of Congress, approved October 11, 1862, in each city, county, parish, or district in the several States a place of rendezvous for persons enrolled is established, where they are examined by surgeons, and in each Congressional district a board of three surgeons is appointed to make the examinations aforesaid. It has not been found practicable to spare from the service of the armies and hospitals a sufficient number of Confederate surgeons to constitute these, but at least one in each district will be associated with local surgeons of repute for the duty, and the effort will be made to prevent, by exchanges with other districts, surgeons of any particular county from officiating on the conscripts therefrom. In at least each country or city an enrolling officer is expected to act, and he is instructed to enroll all not of the exempted classes between the specified ages of eighteen and forty, so that those who have evaded or been neglected in former enrollments and the number, smartingly large, of soldiers who, on one pretense or another, are avoiding service, as well as those embraced by your late call, may be subjected to duty. In the enforcement of the law of conscription the Department is constrained to be inflexible, and even appear harsh. The sacrifices exacted for service are painfully realized, but they are felt to be imperatively demanded for public safety. The exemptions, though far more liberal in the last than the former acts, still affect comparatively few, and those of certain limited classes, while the exempting power vested in your discretion seems to contemplate only individual