to disturbance from possible misapprehension on the part of individual officers growing out of the extraordinary though, in my opinion, well-conceived measures instituted in the circular from the Adjutant and Inspector-General's Office, January 8, 1863, to expedite the recruiting of the armies in the field. Accordingly, at my suggestion, General Orders, No. 16, current series, from the Adjutant and Inspector-General's Office, February 7, 1863, were issued, clearly defining the boundaries between the duties of officers regularly on conscription and those detached from the Army for recruiting.
Here it was hoped all difficulty would cease. The officers of conscription were informed of their own duties, and, as occasion required, were instructed to facilitate the special business of recruiting by others, within the limits marked.
Unfortunately about the 13th day of February, ultimo, it began to appear that Brigadier-General Pillow, claiming, under the orders of General Bragg, to be chief of a "Volunteer and Conscript Bureau of Army of Tennessee," and officers under him were exercising, on a large scale, a general authority to make conscripts, decide questions of exemption, and overrule the officers regularly on conscription duty in four or more States. The character of this interference will appear from papers inclosed. It was promptly met by the War Department in telegraphic instructions bearing date the 13th day of February, ultimo, to Generals Bragg and Pillow, not only stating the general doctrine that the War Department exercises through this Bureau exclusive control of the whole subject of conscription, but affirming that "if any officer otherwise appointed is styling himself an officer of conscription, or acting as such, the confusion thus created should be immediately ended.
"This telegram was replied to, I am informed from the War Department, within a few days by the two generals, and a further telegram was sent from the Department February 18 to General Bragg, through General Johnston, in effect reiterating and enforcing the doctrine of that first cited.
Brigadier-General Pillow's printed circular, herewith inclosed, of February 16, of "Instructions for the government of officers of this (his) bureau," states that "officers of his bureau will not interfere with camps of instructions established by State or Confederate authority, nor attempt the exercise of authority over officers on duty under either, nor with recruits or volunteers already sworn in and enrolled by them. "
Before that date, however, his officers were abroad, and, so far as I can learn, with very different ideas as to the extent of their powers. But the same circular contains the following instruction:
Exemptions which have been allowed by enrolling officers and others are liable to re-examination, and if found to have been granted in violation of the law will be set aside and the parties placed in the army.
This latter instruction is not only in violation of General Orders, No. 82, of 1862, No. 16, of February 7, 1863, and others, but of the law which makes the decision of the medical examining boards (created for the purpose by law) final on all questions of physical capacity for military service. It substitutes as interpreters of the law in other matters officers fresh from the Army and unversed in the business for those who have acquired experience and undergone training and systematic instruction in correspondence with higher authority.
My object in this communication is simply to ask the enforcement by the War Department of its orders, that recruiting officers of whatever rank detached from armies in the field shall not only keep within