supposed impossibility or improbability of escaping conscription, and the superior advantages offered to the recruit by a voluntary
The results attained by the system of enrollment and assemblage at camps of conscription cannot be fairly appreciated without weighing the immense influences of prejudice brought to bear against its operation in a country ours, where the individual is peculiarly sensitive to public opinion; that adverse opinion unfortunately adopted by the country was originated and propagated by the Army. The recruiting officers sent out for a limited time to acquire a specified addition of numbers each for his own organization generally took the shortest path to their object, and without reflection on the future bearing of their course preached the terrors of the law the odiousness of conscription; hence the name of conscript and the camp of conscription are hateful to many as the slave-ship or the pest-house. This Bureau has endeavored to alleviate this evil, as far as possible, by having the conscripts sent from all quarters without delay to the field, instead of gathering them in bodies, as heretofore, for some preliminary instruction.
In self-defense, lest I should be misconstrued to have opposed the Army agencies of recruiting (and I will here state in parenthesis that in cheerfully accepting and seeking to facilitate the views of the recruiting circular of January 8, 1863 from the Adjutant and Inspector General's Office), I acted in conflict with the apprehensions expressed by many, if not most, of my subordinate commandants, and lest a spirit of jealousy or exclusive control be attributed to me I beg leave respectfully, though with regret, to point out some of the great inconsistencies of General Pillow' general profession of regard for law and order in the matter, with the facts, and with his own statements.
First. Cumulative testimony from several States has been constantly pouring into this office ever since that forwarded with my letter of March 19, 1863, to the War Department, not merely of practical disregard on a large scale of general orders by principal and subordinate officers acting under General Pillow, but of their assertion of specific orders from to that effect.
Second. Even at this late date General Pillow argues for his own construction of the circular of January 8, 1863, and treats as if nonexistent the explanatory order of the War Department, Adjutant and Inspector General's Office, General Orders, No. 16 February 7, 1863, which clearly defines the limits of jurisdiction and expressly forbids the supervisory action he claims and admits to have systematically exercised in 'setting aside" (see General Orders, N. 16) the "decisions and exemptions established under the authority of the commandants of conscripts I the respective States. " Had any case of supposed error been reported it would have been reviewed by the proper authorities, but not one such specific case ever been presented to me, nor, that I am aware of, to any of my subordinates.
Third. He claims for and assigns to his officers the right to overrule the medical decisions of the boards of surgeons, specially organized by law for the sole purposh questions of exemption for physical incapacity, and whose decisions are declared in General Orders, No. 82, of 1862, to be final.
In conclusion, I declare that had these arbitrary proceedings been
on a small scale I should have contented myself with endeavoring to procure remedial action in particular cases, and should not have