their prescribed limits, but shall end confusion by divesting themselves of the titles on which they have assumed a nominal connection with the subject of conscription proper. The use of the heading "Conscript Bureau" in the orders of General Pillow and those acting under him throws the regular enrolling officers into difficulties which they would not have to encounter if fully aware that the authority thus claimed is wholly assumed. The high rank of the officer claiming such jurisdiction nullifies to a great extent the value of instructions sent them to the contrary from this Bureau.
Some of the first reports, brief and general, from commandants of conscripts have been already laid before the War Department. I respectfully refer you to others herewith inclosed.
March 13, one month after the War Department had sent its special instructions by telegram to General Pillow, the commandant of conscripts for Alabama sends a message, evidently rendered with some inaccuracy by the telegraph, which I quote as a sample,* other reports of the same character having reached me from other sources, orally and in writing.
It has not escaped me that these extreme measures may receive a sort of justification from their apparent immediate good effects in recruiting the Army more rapidly; but I see no reason to judge, from the various reports I receive, that all the substantial good attained might not have been reached with calmness, system, and an apparent as well as real respect for law, without unsettling whole communities and engendering a spirit of hatred and resistance to the very name of conscription. But for these irregularities we might have hoped to bring our people to realize that after all conscription has nothing in it dishonoring, but is the most equal and justly discriminating mode in which a country can summon to the field its proper defenders.
Under a system of indiscriminating force how many may be uselessly converted into inmates of hospitals; fer for want of the protection of duly administered law; what essential industries may be dislocated; what inconvenience the army supplies may suffer by subordinate and individual overruling of deliberately made details, and how much more the military force may hereafter have to be drawn on to hunt up evaders of conscription and deserters from service, are all questions which conjecture can only approximate to solving. The tendencies appear to me unmistakable, and as to the discharge of duty by this Bureau, I am satisfied that my officers throughout the country will lose all heart, authority, and energy if they cannot sustain themselves in their position as responsible and accredited agents in the eyes of the community.
The return of the accompanying papers is respectfully requested, as some of them contain matter other than that herein alluded to, and all of them are important to the records of this Bureau.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
G. J. RAINS,
Brigadier-General and Superintendent.
[Inclosure No. 1.]
BROOKHAVEN, February -, 1863.
Brigadier Gen. G. J. RAINS:
General Pillow has sent officers into this State to recruit, under circular of 8th of January from Adjutant and Inspector-General's Office.
*See inclosure No. 10, p. 440.