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ments out of the fifty-five, instead of the old corps of twenty-four regiments, these ten regiments to be officered by selection from among the officers of the Veteran Reserve corps and all other officers and soldiers wounded in the Union cause in the suppression of this rebellion, the only requirement being that they shall be found competent upon examination.
These officers of the Veteran Reserve corps might well say, "It is hard that we should be required to undergo a reexamination, having once passed an examination when we received our appointments and were confirmed by the Senate." But these men do not ask for themselves, nor is it asked for them, that they shall be exempt from this reëxamination. But the door being thrown open for all wounded offcers and soldiers of the Union Army, it is proposed that they shall come in with the rest, and that from the whole the officers for these ten regiments shall be selected.
Again, how are the men for the regiment to be obtained? Generally by recruiting, as in other cases. But there is in one of the later sections of this bill a provision for obtaining and providing for men who have suffered wounds or contracted disability in service. At the close of the tenth section is the following provision:
unless such a provision is made as that we make in the bill. When gentlemen make an objection of that kind they do not see how far it will go. If you cannot legislate the Veteran Reserve corps or any selection of them into your Army because there is bad policy in it, then it is bad policy to have twenty-seven new regiments made up of the nine old regiments raised only for the war. I expect these gentlemen have forgotten that.
Who are these wounded officers? Let us look at their character, as they will be spoken of disparagingly here and elsewhere in reference to points connected with this debate. There is a great misapprehension, I expect, in relation to them. They were appointed to the Veteran Reserve corps in 1863, 1864, and 1865. In 1863, when this organization was first begun, the aggregate of officers appointed was six hundred and eighty. They were appointed without examination by transfer from the volunteer service.
It shall be competent to enlist men for the serrice who have been wounded in the line of their duty while serving in the Army of the United States, or who have been disabled by disease contracted in such service, provided it shall be found, on medical inspection, that by such wounds or disability they are not unfitted for efliciency in garrison or other light duty; and such men, when enlisted, shall be assigned to service exclusively in the regiments of the Veteran Reserve corps.
Those three provisions in these different and appropriate sections, show, taken together, how we would constitute this Veteran Reserve corps, to consist of these ten regiments. There is full provision made by which officers and men alike who have served their country and have been wounded or otherwise contracted disability shall not on that account be debarred from coming with their meed of help to the country in doing such duty as they may be fitted to perform, because they would be unable to undergo successfully that medical inspection which, both as to officers and men, is a part of the inquiry into their fitness when they are presented for service; but the rule being relaxed in their case, they are to be received notwithstanding their wounds or disability.
If you do not have a provision of that kind, both as to officers and men, what will be the consequence? No man who has been wounded in your cause can ever expect to be admitted into your service, whether he be an officer or a private, because the medical inspection always on inquiry into his fitness will exclude both officers and men unless you have some such provision.
But gentlemen say, these men being wounded ought not to be employed-let them live upon their pension; let them go into the pursuits of civil life. Let me apply that to those gentlemen who, being themselves already established in the regular Army, would exclude these wounded officers of volunteers. When one of them becomes wounded does he wish to go out of the Army upon his pension? When one of them becomes wounded does he wish to be relieved from all duty, from light duty, and receiving such entire pay as the law gives him? You never hear an argument of that kind come from that quarter.
But they say that it is to legislate a body of men into the regular Army who were only temporarily employed, passing by the question what these men were taught to expect in the Veteran Reserve corps when they were given the privilege of remaining in the Army or not. Let me say if we do that it is no more than what we are doing for the regular Army. What are these new regiments made up of? The nine regiments of the old Army. They were regiments of three battalions each, raised by law for the rebellion, and their term will expire by the limitation of law. Why, every one, whether he belongs to the School of West Point or was appointed from civil life, would be turned out
It was afterward determined to give a better character to the corps, and it was provided they should undergo an examination and be confirmed by the Senate. On that examination, of the six hundred and eighty appointed about one third failed and were dropped from the rolls, leaving the number of appointments in 1863 at four hundred and forty-six. In 1864 near four hundred appointments were made after rigid examination.
In 1865, at the close of the war, only fifty-five were appointed, making the total appointed and confirmed by the Senate eight hundred and ninety. About six hundred remain in the service who were regularly appointed, confirmed, and commissioned. Of these six hundred about four hundred are on duty with General Howard in the Freedmen's Bureau. I think it no breach of confidence to say I have his assurance-although like all other classes of officers there may be some who are unfortunate, who will be weeded out on examination-yet as a body he has no better, more efficient, capable, and intelligent officers than those sent to him for duty.
[Here the hammer fell.]
Mr. CONKLING. I move that the time of the gentleman be extended.
The motion was agreed to.
Mr. SCHENCK. This is the testimony of General Howard, and I think it is a better sort of testimony than that of gentlemen who think that one-armed men are not fit to be employed in the service of the United States, and who would dispense with any further committal of trust to that gallant and distinguished officer who sympathizes with and is in favor of providing for those who have suffered in the cause of their country.
But it may be asked, why did not these veterans return to their duty when they so far recovered as to be fit for any duty whatever? The answer is most obvious. In about nine cases out of ten it arose from the fact that there
was an order of the Department in 1862, called the sixty day order, which provided that if an officer on account of wounds or disease should be absent sixty days or upwards, his name should be stricken from the rolls and his place supplied by another appointment. In this way men who were wounded and who ultimately recovered far enough to be able to be employed profitably in the service fell out of the Army entirely. They found their places filled on their return to duty.
But, sir, I was going to speak of the character of these men who are spoken of as unfit for service, men who have found their way into this Veteran corps as "loafers" so called. I happen to have among my papers a statement of the percentage of the number of the different character of the wounds received by these men against whom this tilt is now made, and I find that the percentage of wounds received by the present officers of the corps is as follows:
stitute twenty-five per cent.; those who have had three wounds in the servvice constitute nine per cent.; those who have had four wounds one and a half per cent.; those who have received five wounds, one per cent.; those who have suffered amputation of a leg, ten per cent.: those who have suffered amputation of an arm, nine per cent.; the number not wounded, but admitted because of disease or other causes disabling from duty, only nine and a half per
And yet people are talking about these soldiers as though they were made up of men who had no claim upon the country by reason of having actually served in the field of battle, and of having suffered in their persons by being exposed to the bullets and bayonets of the
Those of them who have had one wound constitute thirty-five per cent. of the whole; those who have suffered from two wounds con
But all these remarks are unnecessary when you take into account the fact that after all you are going to select from the whole number, that after all you throw the door wide open to all who have been wounded; and inasmuch as that is the fact, you bring it back to the reply to the general argument, that a wounded man is not fit for duty and a wounded officer cannot properly have command.
Sir, the true reason leaked out from a remark which dropped from one of the gentlemen from New York, which I have heard repeated again and again outside, and which is in fact based upon a general opposition on the part of those now constituting the regular Army to having any Reserve corps made up of wounded men, and, as far as possible, of wounded officers. The argument is this: that all the easy places, such as garrison duties and station duties in towns, will probably fall to the share of this corps, and the able-bodied gentlemen of the regular Army will have to rough it out on the frontier posts, in the field, or at hard work.
Well, sir, the only reply I have to make to that is this, that if any class of men deserve the easy places, deserve to be put on recruiting duty, in garrison along the coasts and as guards, where ever they can properly perform that duty, and not to be sent out to report on the frontier, it is exactly these men who have not only had an opportunity to prove themselves, but have actually proved themselves, brave soldiers in the cause of their country, and have got their disability in that way. And so long as that disability does not unfit them for a reasonable share of profitable duty, I say, employ them in that profitable way and give them the benefit of thus being provided for as some compen sation for that which they have undergone. If anybody is entitled to easy places, it is these
Ah! but it is said they would not be fit for the duty. I suppose not; I suppose not. A fellow with one arm could not make the salute properly! A fellow with one eye could not maneuver his opera-glass properly! A fellow with one leg could not lead the "German" he could not waltz properly, even with the aid of a piece of cork to supply his deficiency!
Now, I trust that all such arguments will be put aside. I trust that while we throw the doors wide open to all men of the volunteers and of the regular Army, and endeavor to build up a good and sufficient army upon a liberal system, we shall give every one a chance; that there will be no more of these miserable and narrow attacks upon and attempts at exclusion of those who, whatever be their merits otherwise, have at least proved that they have been in the way of danger.
Mr. SHELLA BARGER. Isympathize very heartily in the line of remarks of my distinguished colleague, and I am earnestly in favor of retaining in the service, as an act of mere national justice, this Veteran Reserve corps, but I do desire, before my colleague sits down, that he shall give the House the benefit of whatever knowledge he may have upon this point. It is a common objection in the Army against the retention of this Veteran Reserve corps that practically it will result in having ten regiments of officers and very few men. I
other, except that the course proposed by the committee will enable you to receive a class of men who otherwise will be excluded.
understand that it is said that the experience of the country heretofore in this matter has indicated pretty strongly that it will not be practicable to have these regiments filled with
Now, I would like my distinguished colleague to tell the House what there is that is known bearing upon that subject, and whether it would be practicable to fill up these regiments and keep them filled up; for that is the great point, I take it, that is made against this feature of the bill. I understand that it has been very strongly made at the other end of the Capitol.
Mr. SCHENCK. I am very glad to have had my attention called to that point by my colleague, and I shall but be repeating my reference to the tenth section of the bill when I indicate how that difficulty is provided for. Mr. SHELLABARGER. The difficulty is said to exist in the fact that you cannot get men to fill these regiments.
Mr. SCHENCK. If you can get men for any regiments you can get them for these, with the additional advantage that men recruited for the general service are eligible to employment in these ten regiments. Any man recruited for the Army may be assigned to duty in one of these ten regiments, whether he has been wounded in the service or not. But in addition to that we throw these ten regiments open so as to authorize the enlistment, which otherwise we could not permit under medical inspection, of men partially disabled by wounds, and provide that they may be transferred to these ten regiments.
The consequence will be practically this: if you get enough wounded men to fill the ten regiments you will have these regiments composed exclusively and entirely of men who, to some extent, are invalids or cripples, but not as much so as to be unfit for duty. But if you do not get enough such men to fill the ten regiments you can fill them up from the rest of the Army.
The tenth section provides what shall be done with the recruits sent to the general rendezvous, and it then goes on to say:
It shall be competent to enlist men for the service who have been wounded in the line of their duty while serving in the Army of the United States, or who have been disabled by disease contracted in such service.
If there were not such a provision you could not enlist one of these men. Men who have lost an eye or lost a finger or an arm, men who have been injured in any way, would be rejected by the medical inspector. But we provide against that and say that any wounded man or officer shall be eligible, with this further proviso:
Provided, It shall be found, on medical inspection, that by such wounds or disability they are not unfitted for efficiency in garrison or other light duty; and such men, when enlisted, shall be assigned to service exclusively in the regiments of the Veteran Reserve
Mr. BOUTWELL. I would ask the gentleman whether as a matter of experience, as well as within the range of reasonable probability, it is not true that an army of fifty thousand men, composed of those who will pass a rigid examination, will not necessarily furnish, in the troubles and trials even of a time of peace, all the men disabled and incompetent for active military service who may be necessary for all the light duties of the peace establishment.
And I would also ask still further, whether, considering the extended and varied character of this country, and its variety of climate, it is not necessary in order to secure the physical and moral welfare of the Army that there should be capacity in the Commander-in-Chief to transfer regiments and brigades from one portion of the country to another. And is not the natural and necessary effect of this bill to place the able-bodied and vigorous portion of the Army in unhealthy and exposed and deleterious situations which will undermine in five or ten years the best and most vigorous physical constitutions?
Mr. SCHENCK. To that I answer "No." The SPEAKER. The second fifteen minutes of the gentleman from Ohio [Mr. SCHENCK] have expired.
Mr. INGERSOLL. I move that the time of the gentleman from Ohio be again extended.
Mr. SCHENCK. My time has been much taken up by interruptions and explanations. Hereafter when occupying the floor I will decline to yield to any one.
The time of Mr. SCHENCK was extended by unanimous consent.
Mr. STEVENS. Before the gentleman from Ohio [Mr. SCHENCK] proceeds, I desire to state to him that there is one objection in the minds of some gentlemen, not pertaining necessarily to this section, but which still has some bearing upon the votes which we are to give. And while I do not entertain the objection that others do, I desire some information.
Some gentlemen believe that the bill as it now stands is intended to include, first, all the officers of the Veteran Reserve corps, and then only to go among other wounded men for officers of these regiments. I do not myself so understand the bill, but others think so. But I desire to ask the gentleman from Ohio if there will be any objection on the part of the Committee on Military Affairs when we come to the next section, the fifth section, to strike out the words "by selection from the officers of the present Veteran Reserve corps, and ;" and thereby leave it open to all wounded men.
The section now reads:
The Veteran Reserve corps shall be officered by selection from the officers of the present Veteran Reserve corps, and by appointment from any officers and soldiers who have been wounded, &c.
If amended as I suggest it will then read: Shall be officered by appointment from any officers and soldiers of volunteers who have been wounded, &c.
Mr. BOUTWELL. I understand from the remarks just made by the gentleman from Ohio, [Mr. SCHENCK,] that, he thinks it possible at least, and not only possible but probable, from our past experience, that these ten regiments will not be filled and kept full by invalids of the Army. In that case, he suggests that these ten regiments are to be filled as the other regiments are filled; that is, by men who can pass a rigid examination. I desire to ask that gentleman whether that is not likely to bring together two classes, and to assign the better class to duties to which they ought not to be assigned. As I understand, one of the results contemplated by this bill is that the invalid regiments are to be assigned to certain specific and lighter duties.
That would remove all doubt on the subject. Mr. SCHENCK. I do not know that I should make any objection to the amendment suggested by the gentleman from Pennsylvania, [Mr. STEVENS;] that is precisely the meaning of the bill now. As the bill now stands, it is that this Veteran Reserve corps is to be officered by selection from the present officers of the corps and any other officers and soldiers who have been wounded. These officers having already been prominent before the country, having undergone their examination, and having been appointed, confirmed, and commissioned, would naturally be looked to among those who are to supply the officers for these ten regiments. And hence it will do no harm, one way or the other, I suppose, to leave out the words indicated by the gentleman from Pennsylvania.
Mr. SCHENCK. My answer to that is simply this: if you do not receive any man who has been wounded, then all these light duties have yet to be performed by somebody. For in that case all these ten regiments and all the otherregiments will be filled up with able-bodied hen. who must perform light duty, garrison' Massachusetts, [Mr. BOUTWELL,] let me say, in the first place, that your garrisons are organizations. You send a company, or half a company, or two or three companies, or a regiment,
Now, sir, to reply to the gentleman from
duty, and all the other kinds of duty which our soldiers are called on to perform. Therefore there is nothing gained or lost one way or the
to a post or to a fort. The gentleman says that there will always be, in an army of fifty thousand men or more, a great number wounded or disabled by the accidents or casualties of the service to make up these garrisons. But they will have no organization. They do not get sick by companies or by regiments. You cannot, therefore, send them, with their proper officers, to perform garrison duty. The reply to the whole matter is that you cannot garrison your posts by selecting one man from one regiment, another from another regiment, two from a third, and an officer from a fourth to command them. So that this substitute suggested for a Veteran Reserve corps is simply impracticable and is utterly inconsistent with military discipline and military practice.
Then, again, the inquiry is, whether the ablebodied men will not necessarily be sent off to places where they will be exposed to the deleterious influences of climate; whether they ought not to be changed. Of course they should be changed from time to time, and they may be changed. As a great part of the peace duty will be garrison duty, it is probable that these regiments of the Veteran Reserve corps will be occasionally changed from post to post, from, fort to fort, from guard duty at one point to guard duty at another, from garrison duty to guard duty, and from guard duty to garrison duty. So also with the able-bodied troops; so also with the remaining forty-five regiments of infantry who will not constitute the Veteran Reserve corps. They will be on duty sometimes on the Pacific coast, sometimes upon the Florida coast, sometimes along the Indian frontier, and sometimes elsewhere. There will be room enough for changes and transfers of all, notwithstanding the continuance of the Veteran Reserve corps; for there will be a vast deal more of garrison and post and guard duty to be performed than can possibly be performed by these ten regiments.
Now, as to the efficiency of the Veteran Reserve corps for such purposes, let us see what the present corps has done. A portion of that corps was sent out to Johnson's Island at a time when other troops had been withdrawn; and during their service as guard to that rebel prison the weather was sometimes so cold that the men froze at their posts. This shows that the members of this corps have been employed for duty at inclement places as well as ablebodied men. Men of this corps, mounted as cavalry, were sent up through Pennsylvania at the time of the riots in the mining region; and they scouted the country for miles. Again, they were mounted as cavalry and scouted the country in front of the fortifications of Washington toward the close of the war. They guarded the public property here at Washington at every point. At the time of the approach of the rebel enemy to this city in the summer of 1864, they occupied and garrisoned the northeast fortifications of the city, from Fort Stevens entirely around to Fort Reno. They were in conflict with the enemy. Many of them, although they had suffered wounds or contracted disease in former battles, were able to renew the fight, to take again their position as efficient soldiers; and many of them suffered even unto death in the battles which occurred when Washington was thus threatened. Their conduct upon that occasion received, as it merited, great praise. I might go on multiplying notices of the services of this Veteran Reserve corps, showing that it is a slander upon officers and men alike to say that they have not performed their duty, and performed it well.
Now, sir, it may be said that these men are men who have gone from civil life into volunteer organizations, and that now we pass them over to the regular Army. I admit that this is so; but if it be a sound objection, it is one which extends to all other volunteers.
What is your army now? It is an army made up largely from civil life. I have taken the trouble to have a table prepared to show how the present line officers, field and company officers, of the regiments in the regular Army have been appointed. I find it is by no means a
West Point army. West Point has gone fur-
You would exclude these men who in the volunteer service have been wounded, and yet when these nine new regiments were made up the officers who were appointed in great part had nothing to commend them except political influence to get them their places. There are men in your regular Army who never until they were put into that Army served anywhere. I do not complain of this. You had to make a sudden expansion of your regular Army amid the exigencies of the rebellion, while yet there were no men wounded, no men who had prac.tical experience and who had seen service, to put in these places. The consequence was they were filled up, these original and other vacancies, by men from civil life without any experience whatever. These men are not to be legislated out, but are to be left for what they may have done since. When we come to the present Army in the field you take the men and there is no inquiry to prove who they are or what they are, no matter to what organization they have belonged, but you object that this is legislating a class into the Army, that it is taking men in a body and transferring them to a position to which they are not entitled.
I have occupied more of the attention of the House than I intended, but whatever I had to say might as well have been said now.
Mr. CONKLING obtained the floor.
a bill providing pensions or relief, we are upon
With the utmost rigor of examination as to physical fitness at the time of enlistments, and with the best sanitary regulations afterward, which the most favored service admits of, the grad-percentage of human ailments is so great, that in the Army, as in every other walk of life, a large proportion of the whole is constantly unfit for hardship or activity.
Beyond all this, the military life makes regiments and whole commands the sufferers from seasons and climates and hardships and campaigns, from which they must have relief by change and rest.
The necessities of a soldier's life require all the relief that the best system will allow, and the opportunity to afford this relief has been found inconsistent with allotting light service, or any special service, perpetually to one portion of an army and hard duty of the same kind perpetually to the other.
This is no new idea. It is not started to be applied to the proposed Veteran Reserve corps. Experience declared it long ago; and it has been recently and pointedly declared for our instruction in the very matter in hand.
I suppose it is no secret that the public au-
rately considered in the Senate, and passed
Mr. HALE. The gentleman will allow me. Mr. CONKLING. I have been waiting a long while to say something myself.
Mr. HALE. In justice to the officers of the nine new regiments, the fact should be stated that those regiments were organized within sixty days after the war broke out, so that they could not be officered from those who had seen service in the field.
Mr. CONKLING. Mr. Speaker, I am persuaded we ought not to petrify the Veteran Reserve corps in the permanent military system of the country. This conviction remains unchanged by the earnest appeal made by the chairman of the Committee on Military Affairs; unchanged by the extraordinary efforts which have been made from the outside to convert this House to the opinion that the officers of the Veteran Reserve corps en masse ought to be taken up and preferred before all the other officers and men to whom the country owes so much.
Those whose experience and observation entitle them to instruct me will not deem me in error when I say that it is at least a question whether an invalid corps should ever exist in a permanent military establishment. I mean, of course, a purposely created invalid corps.
The laws of decay in peace, and of destruction in war, multiply invalids fast enough, and it is the mission of ingenuity and of duty to prevent the members of an army from becoming invalids, and to provide for the ever sickening and ever suffering and ever failing. Even this task is, from its nature, too difficult to be well performed.
Even if the proposition were free from favoritism; even if all the heroic and disabled were to be allowed to compete alike for the benefits proposed, it seems to me when I remember the object of the bill before us that such a measure would be of doubtful wisdom. We are not upon
The paper is signed by Generals Sherman, Meade, and Thomas, and I am not sure whether by General Grant also.
Beside the bill, however, which these officers blocked out, they made a record of their recommendations. One was upon the point now before us. I will read it. It is, as will be discovered, in answer to a communication sent them with a bill, to which had been added a provision creating a Veteran Reserve corps.
"The only essential change proposed in the Army bill is to omit the Veteran Reserve corps altogether." This is the reason they give:
"In any army, no matter what pains be taken in selecting recruits, when we come to put them into service experience teaches that nearly thirty per cent. fail by reason of the ordinary imperfections of human nature. Now, if eight regiments of the fifty be taken from the invalids, or men of impaired strength, we add fifteen per cent., or in all forty-five per cent. of invalids, which is too large a proportion. In the end it is cheaper to provide directly, by way of pensions, for this class of soldiers. If the officers of the Veteran Reserves have a good record and restored health, they can be appointed just as other officers of the volunteer army."
I hope the gentleman will remember the subject with which these generals were dealing when they expressed that opinion, and the subject with which we are dealing when we listen to it. I ask gentlemen to remember what seems to have been sometimes forgotten to-day, namely, that the bill is not one to estab lish a military asylum or to provide for disabled men, but to invigorate and compact the armies of the Republic. Looking to the object in view, they say that an invalid corps, however organized, is a mistake. Why? Do we not all know; do we not all see obvious reasons, some of which were suggested by the gentleman from Massachusetts, Mr. BocTWELL?] Is not the reason of the matter so plain that even those of us who can lay no claim to military attainments may see and affirm it? Passing over the thirty per cent. of disability which inheres, in every army, however well selected, we see the need of relief duty, of light service like gar rison and post duty to recruit. the weary and the worn.
Regiments sent to Texas, for example, and to other distant parts even in ordinary times, become worn, jaded, and impoverished, and there must be some relief for them, and for companies and battalions requiring change of climate and life. While post and garrison service are left open to be allotted from time to time among those most in need of the rest thus afforded, one hand is made to wash the other, the service is performed, and there are always enough and to spare of those whose hardships, and absence far away, and actual bodily condition, not only deserve but require repose and the relaxation which light service gives. If they are not to be thus relieved they must have seasons of entire uselessness and idleness accorded them.
I am assured by gentlemen who would not be questioned here as military authorities, that a great element of the morale of the Army, of the spirit and content of the Army, is the fact that all know that each regiment and battalion and company will have its fair turn at home duty as well as distant duty, at the relaxations which repair as well as the trials which jade. This has been always the rule in our service, and it has never been violated, I believe, in legislation.
It was in no way violated by the formation for the time being of the existing Veteran Reserve corps.
The gentleman from Illinois said yesterday that this corps was given reason to suppose that it was created permanently. I say to him, if he will look into the fact he will find it precisely otherwise. The Invalid corps, as it was first called, was created not by statute but by an order which I have before me. It was created for a temporary purpose. What was it? It was created as an auxiliary to the Bureau of the Provost Marshal General, which bureau, by the terms of the statute creating it, died with the war. This corps was created to guard prisoners, to assist in drafting, in short, to perform duties rather of police than of war at draft rendezvous, and elsewhere. It was created for these purposes, and for these pur poses alone. There was a necessity for it, and that necessity was as temporary as it was great, while the war continued, and while every able bodied man in the service was needed at the
wounds, to drag themselves back to the camp, the trench, and the battle-field.
Bear in mind, then, that these men as a body have been during three years drawing pay and performing the lightest duty of the service to the exclusion of all others; and bear in mind that there now remain as officers of the Veteran Reserve corps, say six hundred || and twenty-one men, some detailed and some unemployed. I hope the gentleman from Ohio [Mr. SCHENCK] will not take me up upon the exactness of that statement. It may not be literally accurate. I will stop and refer to the figures if he does, as I have them somewhere on my desk.
front. The necessity has passed, the duties for which the corps was formed are no longer to be done. Of course everybody foresaw that the purpose was temporary, and everybody knew, who knew anything about it, that the organization was not to be permanent.
The Government has by act and word held but one language on this point, and no expec tations have been created that any set of officers were to be preferred to others in the final reorganization.
I should like to make further observations apon the questionable expediency of any permanently established special invalid corps, but time does not permit. Let us assume that such a corps if impartially constructed, so as to give all disabled officers a fair chance, would be valuable and wise. Then why should those who have already enjoyed advantages over their companions in arms be still further favored? I ask this question because in spite of the language of section five and of the interpretation put upon it by the chairman of the Military Committee, I believe the practical effect will be virtually to prefer en masse a large portion of the officers of the present corps to other wounded and disabled officers and soldiers.
Mr. SCHENCK. There is no such thing in the bill, and the gentleman either cannot read or will not understand.
Mr. CONKLING. I hope the gentleman from Ohio will not get too energetic. He has had three extensions of his time, and has expressed himself so fully that he should be content for a space. I do not wish to wrench myself by attempting to execute that_celebrated pelvic gesture, by which the gentleman makes himself forcible, but I hope the House will consider that I have executed it as far as is necessary, and that I say with just as much distinctness as the gentleman employs that the result under the language he refers to will, in my belief, be just what I have stated. Let us see how this is.
Now, a Veteran Reserve corps of ten regiments is to be rendered permanent and to be officered by "selection"-mark the word-not by appointment afresh, but by "selection from the officers of the present Veteran Reserve corps, and by appointment from any officers and soldiers of volunteers who have been wounded in the line of their duty," &c. Does not everybody see what is likely to result from such a mode of organizing? All these officers are in already, they can act in concert, they and their friends can and will see to their interests and pilot them through red tape and other obstacles.
Being already imbedded in the corps, and having their places and commissions, they will be "selected," and although here and there other wounded officers may fight in or beg in from the outside, the ready-made officers of this corps are to happen in, and outsiders are to have the right to shear the wolf; their trouble will be how to cut the fleece. Those who know the ins and outs of the matter can tell just how it can be worked; it has been explained to me by officers, and volunteers, too, who oppose the whole thing. But without going into the minutiæ, we can all see about how it will be. So it is understood in the corps and out of the corps. How else shall we explain the influences around us?
A provision on this subject, substantially if not exactly like the present, was suggested originally in the Senate bill as first introduced. No one then denied or doubted that under it the officers of the existing Veteran Reserve corps were to be continued. The whole provision was struck out in the Senate committee. When the bill was under consideration in the Senate, an amendment was offered not in the same language here employed. The whole subject was sifted in debate, and before a vote was had the mover of the amendment adopted the original language which, as I said, was in effect if not literally the same as we have here, namely, "to be selected from officers of the Veteran Reserve corps, and appointed from other wounded officers." Still, nobody in the Senate doubted that the provision was for the especial benefit of the officers of the present Veteran Reserve corps. So it was held and treated, and so it was condemned and defeated. So much to show that I am not solitary in my mistake, if mistake it be. But let us look for ourselves at the probable result of such a provision. Who are the perBons upon whom the provision is to act, and how are they now situated? The privates of the Veteran Reserve corps protested against being kept in service, and nearly all upon their Own application have been discharged. Six hundred and twenty-one officers preferred not to be mustered out, and so remain in service. Three hundred of this number have already been provided for in the Freedmen's Bureau and in the Treasury service; the rest are unemployed. Look at these facts a moment, first, for another purpose. Here is a body of men conceded, for this purpose, to be all without exception meritorious, conceded to have suffered in the service of their country, and for three years they have been kept on light service and on full pay, while other men who have been wounded and disabled have been cast aside, or compelled, in spite of their wounds, to go to the front. All other heroes and martyrs have been doomed either to retire from pay after being disabled, or else, wounds or no
39TH CONG. 1ST Sess.-No. 126.
Whence the enormous anxiety of the officers connected with this corps to have this provision retained if they are to come in only for a slight percentage of commissions? Because on the theory of the gentleman from Ohio, [Mr. SCHENCK,] when you come to put the three or four hundred officers of the Veteran Reserve corps who now remain out of employ in among all the wounded officers and soldiers of the country, they would be lost. They would be
"Like the snow-flake in the river, A moment white, then lost forever." Every one must see that if this little few were to be mingled with the many, put on a par with all the wounded soldiers of the war, and only allowed to receive their share of commissions in proportion to their numbers, that share would be virtually nothing at all.
Is that the understanding of those who have besieged Congress on behalf of the Veteran Reserve corps? Is that the understanding of the volunteer officers who bear honorable and disabling scars who oppose and denounce the proposed legislation as unjust to them and their unnumbered comrades?
Circulars have been sent throughout the Veteran Reserve corps officers, as I understand, and as has never been denied, calling upon those addressed to contribute money in order to have their interests properly attended to before Congress. Has this expense and this equivocal expedient been resorted to for the benefit of somebody else?
No man can wink so hard as not to see that the practical operation of this bill as it stands is likely to be to substantially include all the officers of the existing Veteran Reserve corps, and only by accident; to include anybody else. Therefore I say again, that while the bill does provide that the officers shall be taken not only from the present officers of the corps, but also appointed from among others who have been wounded in the late war, the effect will be as I believe in the first instance to secure in their places all those who are now in the corps.
The SPEAKER. The time of the gentleman from New York [Mr. CoNKLING] has expired.
Mr. PAINE. I move that the time of the gentleman from New York be extended. No objection was made.
Mr. CONKLING. An insinuation has been made, I hope not by design, that those who oppose this measure oppose the defenders of the country, or are wanting in a sense of justice and gratitude to the defenders of the country.
The case is put as if here was an occasion to do an act of justice for the general good of those who went out from the fireside to the camp to maintain on far distant battle-fields the life and glory of their country. For one I deny this in toto. I repel the insinuation, and I can show that nothing could be a more heartless mockery than to pretend that the real sufferers by the war have any interest on earth in adding five regiments to the number of men required for the regular Army, for the purpose of organizing ten of them in the manner proposed.
In the first place, what is to become of the great bulk of those, a multitude sad to number, who have never been kept upon pay and in light service, but who went out and returned ruined by wounds and disease? How many of them will be unsuccessful for every one who succeeds in obtaining a commission in one of these ten regiments?
But again, are the most unfortunate to be included at all? An examination is required as to bodily ability. This will have the effect to cause the rejection of the most unfortunate of these men, to exclude those whose bodily disability is the greatest, and whose power to maintain themselves is the least. The advantage is to be enjoyed by those who are able in some sort to come up to the military standard. Therefore, as to the bestowal of the commissions, the plan is to favor the least needy.
How as to the men? Does any one suppose that regiments which are to do nothing but garrison duty need to be kept filled with men? Why, not at all. Does any one suppose they will be filled up and kept filled with men wounded heretofore? We know that it would be impossible to keep them filled by such wounded men even if it should be desirable. Why? Here is a regiment to be made up of five hundred wounded men. There are fifteen hundred other wounded men who would be glad to have places in the regiment, but they do not get there, and the occasion passes by. Does any one suppose that these fifteen hundred men are to stand as tide-waiters, watching for vacancies, that they will forego, or could or should forego, other modes of life so as to be || ready to enlist?
Each stepping where his comrade stood The instant that he fell."
Then how, after the first formation of the regiments, is the body to be kept filled with men wounded "in the late war?" The first enlistment of privates might answer the description, but the recruiting must be done in other fields. One portion of wounded men are to be taken and the others are to be left to shift for themselves and to become occupied in various ways in life. The relief, then, is merely for those who in the first instance form these regiments.
Mr. STEVENS. If the gentleman will allow me, I desire to make a single suggestion. I think he cannot have understood the question which I put awhile ago to the chairman of the Committee on Military Affairs. Seeing that this suggestion might be made, I asked him what was the intention of the bill in this respect, and whether he had any objection to an amendment striking out the words "by selection from among officers of the present Reserve corps." He assured me that he would not object to it. This does away with that part of the argument of the gentleman from New York. I do not know whether the gentleman heard the remark.
Mr. CONKLING. I did not overlook it, and I am very glad that the gentleman from Pennsylvania has made this suggestion. For
one, I shall vote for that amendment when I have the opportunity. And I am glad to have the gentleman's attention at this moment, because I want it directed to the fact that even if those words were stricken out, the fault of the bill will not be cured in the particular he suggests. It will still be open to evasion and easy abuse. How are the officers of the Veteran Reserve corps to be gotten out to take their chance fairly with other men? That is the question. The Veteran Reserve corps exists; and you propose to prolong and perpetuate it. Now, unless you have some provision which dissolves this organization, which turns these officers out, which makes the officers of the Veteran Reserve corps as well as the others applicants in the same sense and on the same footing for appointment, the purpose of the gentleman from Pennsylvania will not be accomplished, although the bill will be improved.
Mr. STEVENS. I desire to inquire of the gentleman whether he understands that if this bill passes, these officers are necessarily retained? May they not be mustered out by the Department in the same way as other officers are?
vided for by this bill. I fear that the amendment of the gentleman from Pennsylvania [Mr. STEVENS] will not insure the contrary, and if the section is retained I shall move a further amendment in the same direction.
Mr. BLAINE. I desire to suggest to the gentleman from New York that it would be more satisfactory if he would point out the section of the bill which conveys that meaning, instead of indulging in loose and vague assertions with nothing in the bill to support them.
Mr. CONKLING. I have endeavored to refer to the provisions of the bill; and I will suggest to the gentleman from Maine [Mr. BLAINE] that possibly by listening he will have his attention directed to some provisions of the bill which he may not understand any better than the rest of us.
Mr. CONKLING. Mr. Speaker, I do understand precisely that, and so I think will the gentleman from Pennsylvania when I remind him how all this has been managed. When we came here this session the officers of the Veteran Reserve corps were in the position in which the gentleman assumes they are now. They had been brought into being by an order; and they could be sent out by an order. But in the early part of the session, upon the motion of the chairman of the Committee on Military Affairs, a resolution was adopted calling upon the War Department not to muster out these officers, as the Department was doing, until provision to that effect had been made by Congress. That was the substance of it. Now, I challenge any gentleman to show me in this bill any provision overriding that declaration of the House.
Mr. SCHENCK. Does the gentleman really want an answer?
Mr. CONKLING. My friend's manner is rather appalling; but if there is no danger at this distance
Mr. STEVENS. I desire to ask my friend from New York whether the resolution to which he refers was a joint resolution, or merely an expression of the opinion of the House.
Mr. CONKLING. I am not sure whether it was a joint resolution or not, and therefore I have refrained from saying anything of it except that it passed the House. I know that such a resolution passed this House; and I remember very well that I inquired at the time whether it was to lead to such a result as it is like to.
Mr. GARFIELD. I think that was a mere resolution of the House, making a request of the Secretary of War.
Mr. CONKLING. And here, in the return made from the Adjutant General's office, with which my colleague [Mr. VAN AERNAM] Supplies me, there is a note in the case of a number of officers, stating that they are retained under the resolution of Congress to await further action in their cases. Three hundred and ninety-nine are retained in that way.
Mr. SCHENCK. If the gentleman really wants information on this point
The SPEAKER. Does the gentleman from New York yield to the gentleman from Ohio, [Mr. SCHENCK?]
I will if it does not come
out of my time. The SPEAKER. It will come out of the gentleman's time.
Mr. CONKLING. Then I decline to yield. I have had a great deal of curiosity on this point; and I have asked at the Department and outside of the Department, what was to be the effect of such a provision as this; and I am advised that by the bill as it now stands the officers of the present Veteran Reserve corps will be transferred in a body to the corps pro
In the fragnreut of time left to me I will make another remark. I submit to the chairman of the Military Committee that he states rather strongly when his auditors are people not accustomed to military distinctions the proposition that officers can never enter the Army if they have been wounded. He does not mean that. He does not mean, I think, to say that officers are so examined as to be rejected merely because they do not come up to the bodily standard required in the case of privates.
Mr. SCHENCK. I do, most certainly. Mr. CONKLING. Does the gentleman say an officer in the service goes out as a private goes out, in consequence of being wounded? Mr. SCHENCK. The gentleman asks whether an officer is subject to medical examination on his appointment, and I say he is. One of the best officers of the Veteran Reserve corps was a candidate for the place of second lieutenant in the regular Army and was rejected on medical inspection.
relief of our soldiers and their families of a proper and fair character than I will vote for. The more it favors wounded and disabled men the heartier shall be my support. This provision does nothing wise or just in that direction, and therefore it wins no favor with me on that account.
Mr. CONKLING. I have no doubt an officer may be so disabled as to be unable to do duty in the Army and may be rejected for that reason. I have no doubt there are such cases. Phil. Kearney, though, went one-armed, with his bridle in his teeth, through all the war till he fell in fight, and nobody but death mustered him out. Officers who are fit to do duty are not, as I understand the application of the law, rejected because they have been wounded at some time and could not pass examination as privates.
It seems to me the true way to provide for officers and men wounded in the war is to adopt measures which will deal equitably and impartially among them all. This cannot be done by mixing one bill with another, and ingrafting upon a bill to make the Army more efficient an invalid corps, holding out benefits to them which ought to be given in another way. No man can invent a stronger measure for the
Mr. PAINE obtained the floor, but vielded to Mr. BLAINE, who said: Mr. Speaker, I want the floor for five minutes to correct a gross misapprehension, I will not call it a misrepresentation, of the gentleman from New York. When the gentleman from New York speaks of his own knowledge on a subject he is a gentleman of accuracy to whom I always listen with great pleasure. He is not so accurate when he speaks upon the suggestions of others who are interested adversely to this bill.
He makes the broad assertion that this bill incorporates the Veteran Reserve corps as it stands into the regular Army. He has evidently not read the bill. The fourth section of the bill says:
Of ten regiments to be raised and officered as hereinafter provided for, to be called the Veteran Reserve corps.
The fifth section:
The Veteran Reserve corps shall be officered by selection from the officers of the present Veteran Reserve corps, and by appointment from any officers and soldiers of volunteers who have been wounded in the line of their duty while serving in the Army of the United States in the late war, or have been disabled by disease contracted in such service, and may yet be competent for garrison or other duty, to which that corps has heretofore been assigned.
Now, if the gentleman from New York will turn to the thirty-fifth section of the bill, he will find that no person shall be appointed to office in the line or staff corps of the Army until he shall have passed a satisfactory examination before a board to be convened under the direction of the Secretary of War, so that as a matter of fact, I assert it in its broadest and most unexceptionable sense, officers of the Veteran Reserve corps now in commission are not given one single inch advantage over any other wounded officers along the length and breadth of the loyal States. And the gentleman from New York certainly made a loose and vague assertion on that subject, contrary to the very letter and spirit, line and precept of the bill. I say this in vindication of the committee, of whom he has spoken as having cunningly gotten this in. It is drawn with very great care and proper safeguards are thrown around it.
Mr. PAINE. I am in favor of this provision of the bill which constitutes the Veteran Reserve corps. I am at the same time in favor of making careful provision for wounded officers and soldiers both of the volunteer and regular Army who have not hitherto been in that corps. If I supposed for one moment that the result of the provision contained in this section would be to give preference to men who are already in the Veteran Reserve corps, at the expense of those wounded officers and men who have never yet been placed in that corps, I should be opposed to the provision and struggle for its amendment.
And I am pleased to see the anxiety manifested by the gentleman from New York [Mr. CONKLING] in favor of these wounded officers and soldiers who have not hitherto been members of that corps. I only wish it had gone a little further, and had promised to take some practical form in this House which might ben efit them. I only wish he had manifested a willingness so to amend this bill as to give these wounded officers and soldiers of the volunteer and of the regular Army, who have not hitherto been provided for in the Veteran corps, a chance under this law. But no; he turns with scorn from every attempt to amend this bill so as to include them, and makes that provision the basis of his opposition, and then turns around and positively refuses to do any thing by way of amendment which shall obviate that objection. Now, the amendment proposed by the gentleman from Pennsylvania [Mr. STEVENS] does obviate that objection. Mr. CONKLING. Did the gentleman say