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It is true that in some cases we have been deceived or misled by the prima facie evidence which has been furnished to us by the opinion of surgeons in the country whose certificate we required as to the state of health of the applicant, and the cause from which his disabilities are claimed to have arisen. Yet we have endeavored to correct such mistakes as far as possible by having careful examinations made by the very competent surgeons of the Home; and where the evidence is clear that the disability arises from other cause than wounds or sickness incurred in line of duty, or that there are no sufficient disabilities now existing to bring the beneficiaries within the purview of the statute, in such cases the soldier has been honorably discharged from the Home. Indeed, in some of those cases where the Board of Examining Surgeons of the Home have certified that there was no disability, we have been obliged to readmit the beneficiary so discharged afterward, because of the appearance of diseases and disabilities which were not potent at the time of their examination.
There is one question to which we desire the attention of Congress which has been a source of great perplexity. The law provides that the soldiers of the war of 1812 and the Mexican war shall be entitled to the benefits of the Home; but from the length of time that has elapsed it is almost impossible to obtain evidence of the origin of the disability of this class of soldiers. The board was at first inclined to adopt as a proper construction of the law that Congress intended that a soldier of the war of 1812, or the Mexican war, honorably discharged, now afflicted with disabilities, was, at all events, entitled to the benefits of the Home. But, upon a closer examination of the law, the board is inclined to the opinion that there must be some evidence that the soldier was "disabled in line of duty." A strict compliance with this condition would render the act, in behalf of this class of soldiers, almost inoperative. The board submits to Congress the necessity, therefore, of a declaratory act in this behalf, and would recommend that such an act should be so framed that where a Mexican soldier or a soldier of the war of 1812 is found disabled, and without any other means of support, if honorably discharged, shall be admitted to the benefits of the Home."
The board has caused reports, in answer to questions submitted by its secretary to the commandants of the several branches of the Home, to be carefully prepared and made to it, which are hereto appended as part of this report, which it is believed will furnish all the information that can be desired by Congress, in detail upon every subject relating to the administration, and its results of the several Homes, and to these several reports we refer Congress for all necessary details.
The greatly-increasing numbers largely increases our expenditures; and it is by the most rigid economy of administration that we have been able to keep within our appropriations.
In the past we have been largely assisted in clothing our beneficiaries by utilizing, in what we deemed the most prudent and economical manner, the supplies of surplus clothing remaining in the hands of the Quartermaster's Department, which came to us by a separate act of Congress, by drawing from the Quartermaster's Department a suit of clothing, or its equivalent in clothing, for each soldier on the occasion of his first admission to the Home. And we have been able in the past to clothe our men with relatively a very light expenditure of money, and have made valuable a very great deal of condemned Army clothing.
But this supply now fails us. There remain now no full suits of surplus clothing coming down from the war, so that that supply must fail. As by increasing age and corpulency of the beneficiaries the sizes of
such clothing renders it wholly useless to us, in the future we must make arrangements for the manufacture or purchase of clothing, and provision will have to be made by Congress to meet this hereafter very considerable expenditure.
We manufacture at our Homes two articles of clothing at the present time needed for the use of our beneficiaries; at one, boots and shoes; and at the other, stockings; at a very reduced cost; and the board intends, if not otherwise directed by Congress, to make up all the clothing for the soldiers in its care in the Homes. When it is remembered that we have had over eight thousand beneficiaries in our care during the past year, and that their numbers are increasing, all of whom by law have a right to one suit of clothes, to be given them on their admission, and if they have any means, from their pensions or by their labor while in the Home, to buy others, it will be readily seen that no small sum, with every economy, will be required for this purpose. In the most economical way it can be done the cost of clothing the men will exceed one-third of all our other expenditures, and this must be added in future appropriations when our present supply of clothing is exhausted.
The board desires to call the special attention of Congress to the fact that the pensions of the soldiers are not within the control of the Board of Managers at all where the beneficiary has a parent, wife, or child dependent upon him; but in other cases we have so endeavored to administer the pensions as in part to contribute to the support of the soldier. and his comfort and happiness.
The Board of Managers are happy to say that they have had no occa-sion for any exercise of restraint or repression upon more than 98 per cent. of our beneficiaries; and from the more than 98 per cent. no complaints have ever yet been made to Congress or anybody else as to the conduct and management of the Home. We recognize the fact that complaints have been made to Congress by a very few of our beneficiaries, and into those complaints we have asked the fullest and most careful investigation, in the full belief that all such complaints would be found substantially groundless or frivolous. It has been the habit of the board at its quarterly meetings at the several Homes to have full notice given to all beneficiaries having complaints to make of any supposed ill treatment received by any one at either of the Homes, or any maladministration, that they will be heard, and to examine the complaints separately and apart from the local officers of the institution, so that each may be free to make known his criticisms to the board in the fullest manner without being influenced by the presence of his officers. Wherever any abuse has come to the knowledge of the board it has been promptly and efficiently corrected.
Again, candor and truth compel us to say to Congress that a very large majority of the cases of complaints have been wholly trivial and groundless, and the complaints have come from a class of persons whom it had been found necessary for the local officers to punish for gross infractions of the necessary rules of the Home; but it is due to the soldiers complaining, and who have been so punished, to say that the infractions of the rules and the necessity of the discipline have come to them very largely because of their habits of intemperance. If intoxicating liquors could be wholly put and kept beyond the reach of the beneficiaries of the Home, we should have, substantially, neither cases for discipline nor complaints from any sane man. Complaints have been made by men with morbid or distempered minds, and their statements made the basis of articles in the public prints, and in some cases direct application to the President of the United States and the Secretary of
War, both of whom are ex-officio members of our board, and in other cases to members of Congress, which from impartial investigation have been found to be wholly illusory and malicious, and unsupported by affidavits. Indeed, the wonder seems to the board to be that so few complaints are made rather than so many.
Heretofore, the death-rate at the Homes has been surprisingly small. Surrounded by all the comforts of life, fed with wholesome and wellcooked food, living in cleanliness and sobriety, with every opportunity for innocent recreation and exercise, cared for by experienced, competent, and sympathizing surgeons, the lives of our beneficiaries have been wonderfully prolonged during the twelve years of the active existence of our institution.
At first the board had supposed that the decrease by death would have equaled the number of new applications for admissions long since; but as year by year goes on the applicants for support largely exceed our depletion from all causes. As we are now nearly eighteen years away from the beginning of the war, we must naturally expect in men with shattered bodies who must soon average over fifty years of age, that the death-rate will be so large as to almost furnish evidence to the unthinking of an epidemic. But the board are persuaded that for some years longer in spite of this we must look for still increasing numbers.
There will be found annexed to this report the account of the acting treasurer of the board of the receipts and disbursements during the past year, and the details of such disbursements will be found in the reports of the several commandants.
We also append hereto the official record of all the acts of the Board of Managers during the past year.
The board takes occasion again to renew its recommendation to the fostering care of Congress this most noble beneficence to the disabled soldiers of our country, greater than ever furnished by any country, and to ask of Congress the most careful oversight of its administration on the one side and a continuance of liberal appropriations for it on the other. All of which is respectfully submitted.
BENJ. F. BUTLER,
President of the Board of Managers National Home for
The National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers in account with General Benjamin F. Butler, acting treasurer.
To cash paid, as per vouchers duly audited, in carrying on the
$200, 279 31
To cash paid, as per vouchers duly audited, in carrying on the
By balance due from acting treasurer..
Feb. 7 By United States Treasurer's cheek, amount appropriated at
April 4 By United States Treasurer's check, amount of appropriation
Nov. 23 By United States Treasurer's check, amount of appropriations
By amount received from Hon. Lewis B. Gunckel, former secretary of the Board of Managers
E. and O. E.
947, 714 96
BENJ. F. BUTLER,
Acting Treasurer National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers.
ANNUAL REPORT OF THE SECRETARY OF THE BOARD OF MANAGERS FOR THE YEAR 1878.
To Maj. Gen. B. F. BUTLER,
President of the Board of Managers:
I have the honor to transmit herewith the reports of the governors of the four several branches of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers for the year ending December 31, 1878.
The reports are in suitable form to be appended to the annual report of the Board of Managers to Congress, and will give accurate and detailed information as to the receipt and expenditure of moneys appropriated for the support of the several branches, as to the numbers of disabled soldiers cared for, and as to the particular methods of management and the results.
I cannot profitably abridge or condense these reports. I think they will prove satisfactory in demonstrating that the objects designed by Congress in the incorporation of this National Home for Disabled Soldiers have been faithfully and successfully subserved. If there are defects, or excess, or omissions in this regard, the complete history of the internal administration of these institutions contained in the reports will afford accurate information for critical suggestions and amendment. Attention is called to the fact that during the past year the terms of office of three of the managers had expired, to wit: the terms of Hon. L. B. Gunckel, General John S. Cavender, and General James S. Negley.
For convenient reference in the records of the National Home, I have appended to this report an extract from the act of Congress appointing their successors. This extract is also important as containing a clause regulating purchases of supplies.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOHN H. MARTINDALE, Secretary of the Board of Managers.
[Extract from chap. 357 of U. S. Statutes, Forty-fifth Congress, second session, passed June 20, 1878.] Support of National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers-Current expenses, including repairs: For the Central Branch, for the Eastern Branch, for the Northwestern Branchi, for the Southern Branch, and for hospital and other necessary construction purposes; for clothing of extra sizes and underclothing; for outdoor relief and incidental expenses, eight hundred and eighty thousand dollars: Provided, That all purchases of supplies, exceeding the sum of one thousand dollars at any one time, shall be made upon public tender after due advertisement: And further, That Colonel Leonard A. Harris of Ohio, General Richard Coulter of Pennsylvania, and Colonel John A. Martin of Kansas, be, and they are hereby, appointed Managers of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, to fill vacancies occasioned by the expiration of the terms of office on the twenty-first day of April, anno Domini eighteen hundred and seventy-six, of Lewis B. Gunckel of Ohio, General James S. Negley of Pennsylvania, and General John S. Cavender of Missouri.
NEW YORK OFFICE OF THE NATIONAL HOME,
SIR: I have the honor to report that during the year 1878 this office issued transportation to 232 disabled volunteer soldiers to the several branches of the National Home. That during the year 1878 there has