« AnteriorContinuar »
to endure only until the return of the officers regularly commissioned. Where it results from permanent disability incurred in the line of their duty, it would be proper to retire them, and fill the vacancies according to established mode. I would also suggest the organization of an invalid corps, and that the retired officers be transferred to it. Such a corps, it is thought, could be made useful in various employments for which efficient officers and troops are now detached.
An organization of the general staff of the army would be highly conducive to the efficiency of that most important branch of the service. The plan adopted for the military establishment furnishes a model for the staff of the provision.il army, if it be deemed advisable to retain the distinction; but I recommend to your consideration the propriety of abolishing it, and providing for the organization of the several staff corps in such number and with such rank as will meet all the wants of the service. To secure the requisite ability for the more important positions, it will be necessary to provide for officers of higher rank than is now authorized for these corps. To give to the officers the proper relation and cointelligcnce in their respective corps, and to preserve in the chief of each useful influence and control over his subordinates, there should be no gradation on the basis of the rank of the general with whom they might be serving by appointment To the personal staff of a general it would seem proper to give a grade corresponding with his rank, and the number might be fixed to correspond with his command. To avoid the consequence of discharge upon a change of duty, the variable portion of the personal staff might be taken from the line of the army, and allowed to retain their line commissions.
The disordered condition of the currency, to which I have already alluded, has imposed on government a system of supplying the wants of the army, which is so unequal in its operation, vexatious to the producer, injurious to the industrial interest, and productive of such discontent among the people, as only to be justified by the existence of an absolute necessity. The report of the Secretary on this point establishes conclusively, that the necessity which has forced the Bureau of Supply to provide for the army by impressment, has resulted from the impossibility of purchase by contract, or in the open market, except at such rapidly increased rates as would have rendered the appropriations inadequate to the wrants of the army. Indeed, it is believed that the temptation to horde supplies for the higher prices which could be anticipated with certainty, has been checked mainly by the fear of the operation of the impressment law; and that commodities have been offered in the markets, principally to escape impressment, and obtain higher rates than those fixed by appraisement. The complaints against this vicious system have been well founded, but the true cause of the evil has been misapprehended. The remedy is to be found, not in a change of the
impressment law, but the restoration of the currency to such a basis as will enable the department to purchase necessary supplies in the open market, and thus render impressment a rare and exceptionable process.
The same remedy will effect the result, universally desired, of an augmentation of the pay of the army. The proposals made at your previous sessions to increase the pay of the soldier by additional amount of treasury notes, would have conferred little benefit on him; but a radical reform in the currency will restore the pay to a value approximating that which it originally had, and materially improve his condition.
The reports from the ordnance and mining bureaus are very gratifying, and the extension of our means of supply of arms and munitions of war from our home resources has been such as to insure our ability soon to become mainly, if not entirely, independent of supplies from foreign countries. The establishments for the casting of guns and projectiles, for the manufacture of small arms and of gunpowder, for the supply of nitre from artificial nitre-beds, and mining operations generally, have bceYi so distributed through the country as to place our resources beyond the reach of partial disasters.
The recommendations of the Secretary of War on other points are minutely detailed in his report, which is submitted to you, and extending as they do to almost every branch of the service, merit careful consideration.
EXCHANGE OF PRISONERS.
I regret to inform you that the enemy have returned to the barbarous policy with which they inaugurated the war, and that the exchange of prisoners has been for some time suspended. The correspondence of the Commissioners of Exchange is submitted to you by the Secretary of War, and it has already been published for the information of all now suffering useless imprisonment. The conduct of the authorities of the United States has been consistently perfidious on this subject. An agreement for exchange, in the incipiency of the war, had just been concluded, when the fall of Fort Donelson reversed the previous state of things, and gave them an excess of prisoners. The agreement was immediately repudiated by them, and so remained till the fortune of war again placed us in possession of the larger number. A new cartel was then made, and under it, for many months, we restored to them many thousands of prisoners in excess of those whom they held for exchange, and encampments of the surplus paroled prisoners delivered up by us were established in the United States, where the men were enabled to receive the comforts aud solace of constant communication with their homes and families. In July last, the fortune of war again favored the enemy, and they were enabled to exchange for duty the men previously delivered to them, against those captured and paroled at Vicksburgh and Port Hudson. The prisoners taken at Gettysburg!), however, remained in their hands, and should have been returned to our lines on parole, to await exchange. Instead of executing a duty imposed by the plainest dictates of justice and good faith, pretexts were instantly sought for holding them in permanent captivity.' General orders rapidly succeeded each other from the bureau at Washington, placing new constructions on an agreement which had given rise to no dispute while we retained the advantage in the number of prisoners. With a disregard of honorable obligations, almost unexampled, the enemy did not hesitate, in addition to retaining the prisoners captured by them, to declare null the paroles given by the prisoners captured by us the same series of engagements, and liberated on condition of not again serving until exchanged. They have since openly insisted on treating the paroles given by their own soldiers as invalid, and those of our soldiers, given under precisely similar circumstances, as binding. A succession of similar unjust pretensions has been set up in a correspondence tediously prolonged, and every device employed to cover the disregard of an obligation which, between belligerent nations, is only to be enforced by a sense of honor.
No farther comment is needed on this subject; but it may be permitted to direct your special attention to the close of the correspondence submitted to you, from which you will perceive that the final proposal made by the enemy, in settlement of all disputes under the cartel, is, that we should liberate all prisoners held by us, without the offer to release from captivity any of those held by them.
In the mean time a systematic and concerted effort has been made to quiet the complaints in the United States of those relatives and friends of the prisoners in our hands who are unable to understand why the cartel is not executed in their favor, by the groundless assertion that we are the parties who refuse compliance. Attempts are also made to shield themselves from the execration excited by their own odious treatment of our officers and soldiers now captive in their hands, by misstatements, such as that the prisoners held by us are deprived of food. To this last accusation the conclusive answer has been made that, in accordance with our law and the general orders of the department, the rations of the prisoners are precisely the same, in quantity and quality, as those served out to our own gallant soldiers in the field, and which have been found sufficient to support them in their arduous campaigns, while it is not pretended by the enemy that they treat prisoners by the same generous rule. By an indulgence, perhaps unprecedented, we have even allowed the prisoners in our hands to be supplied by their friends at home with comforts not enjoyed by the men who captured them in battle. In contrast to this treatment, the most revolting inhumanity has characterized the conduct of the United States toward prisoners held by them. One prominent fact, which admits no denial or palliation, must suffice as a test. The officers of our army, natives of Southern and semi-tropical climates, and
unprepared for the cold of a Northern winter, have been conveyed, for imprisonment, during the rigors of the present season, to the most northern and exposed situation that could be selected by the enemy. There, beyond the reach of comforts, and often even of news from home and family, exposed to the piercing cold of northern lakes, they are held by men who cannot be ignorant of, even if they do not design, the probable result. How many of our unfortunate friends and comrades, who have passed unscathed through numerous battles, will perish on Johnson's Island, under the cruel trial to which they are subjected, none but the Omniscient can foretell. That they will endure this barbarous treatment with the same stern fortitude that they have ever evinced in their country's service, we cannot doubt. But who can be found to believe the assertion that it is our refusal to execute the cartel, and not the malignity of the foe, which has caused the infliction of such intolerable cruelty on our own loved and honored defenders?
Regular and punctual communication with the Trans-Mississippi is so obstructed as to render difficult a compliance with much of the legislation vesting authority in the executive branch of the government To supply vacancies in offices; to exercise discretion on certain matters connected with the military organizations; to control the distribution of the funds collected from taxation or remitted from the Treasury; to carry on the operations of the Post-Office department, and other like duties, require, under tho Constitution and existing laws, the action of the Presi-i dent and heads of departments. The necessities of the military service frequently forbid delay, and some legislation is required, providing for tho exercise of temporary authority, until regular action can be had at the seat of government. I would suggest, especially in the Post-Office department, that an assistant be provided in the States beyond the Mississippi, with authority in the head of that department to vest in his assistant all such powers now exercised by the PostmasterGeneral as may be requisite for provisional con. trol of the funds of the department of these States, and their application to the payment of mail contractors, for superintendence of the local post-offices, and the contracts for carrying the mail; for the temporary employment of proper persons to fulfil the duties of postmasters and contractors in urgent cases, until appointments can be made, and for other like purposes. Without some legislative provision on the subject, there is serious risk of the destruction of the mail service by reason of the delays and hardships suffered by contractors under the present system, which requires constant reference to Richmond on their accounts, as well as the returns of the local paymasters, before they can receive payment for services rendered. Like provision is also necessary in the Treasury department; while, for military affairs, it would seem to be sufficient to authorize the President
an<J Secretary of War to delegate to the commanding general ao much of the discretionary power vested in them by law as the exigencies of the service shall require.
The report of the Secretary of the Navy gives in detail the operations of that department since January last, embracing information of the disposition and employment of the vessels, officers, and men, and the construction of vessels at Richmond, Wilmington, Charleston, Savannah, Mobile, Selma, and on the rivers Roanoke, Neuse, Pedee, Chattahoochee, and Tombigbee; the accumulation of ship-timber and supplies; and the manufacture of ordnance, ordnance stores, and equipments. The foundries and workshops have been greatly improved, and their capacity to supply all demands for heavy ordnance for coast and harbor defences is only limited by our deficiency in the requisite skilled labor. The want of such labor and of seamen seriously affects the ^ operations of the department
The skill, courage, and activity of our cruisers at sea cannot be too highly commended. They have inflicted heavy losses on the enemy, without suffering a single disaster, and have seriously damaged the shipping interests of the United States by compelling their foreign commerce to seek the protection of neutral flags.
Your attention is invited to the suggestions of the report on the subject of supplying seamen .for the service, and of the provisions of the law 'in relation to the volunteer navy.
The Postmaster-General reports the receipts of that department for the fiscal year ending the thirtieth June last, to have been three million three hundred and thirty-seven thousand eight hundred and fifty-three dollars and one cent, ar.d the expenditures for the same period two million six hundred and sixty-two thousand eight hundred and four dollars and sixty-seven cents. The statement thus exhibits an excess of receipts amounting to six hundred and seventy-five thousand forty-eight dollars and forty-four cents, instead of a deficiency of more than a million of dollars, as was the case in the preceding fiscal year. It is gratifying to perceive that the department has thus been made self-sustaining, in accordance with sound principle, and with the express requirements of the Constitution, that its expenses should bo paid out of its own revenues after the first March, 1863.
The report gives a full and satisfactory account of the operations of the Post-Office department for the last year, and explains the measures adopted for giving more certainty and regularity to the service in the States beyond the Mississippi, and on which reliance is placed for obviating the difficulties heretofore encountered in that service.
The settlement of the accounts of the department is greatly delayed by reason of the inability of the First Auditor to perform all the duties
now imposed on him by law. The accounts of the departments of State, of the Treasury, of the Navy, and of Justice, are all supervised by that officer, and more than suffice to occupy his whole time. The necessity for a Third Auditor, to examine and settle the accounts of a department so extensive as that of the Post Office, appears urgent, and his recommendation on that subject meets my concurrence.
CONDUCT OF THE ENEMY.
I cannot close this message without again adverting to the savage ferocity which still marks the conduct of the enemy in the prosecution of the war. After their repulse from the defences before Charleston, they first sought revenge by an abortive attempt to destroy the city with an incendiary composition, thrown by improved artillery from a distance of four miles. Failing in this, they changed their missiles, but fortunately have thus far succeeded only in killing two women in the city. Their commanders, Butler, McNeil, and Turchin, whose horrible barbarities have made their names widely notorious and everywhere execrable, are still honored and cherished by the authorities at Washington. The first-named, after having been withdrawn from the scenes of his cruelties against women and prisoners of war, (in reluctant concession to the demands of outraged humanity in Europe,) has just been put in a new command at Norfolk, where helpless women and children are again placed at his mercy.
Nor has less unrelenting warfare been waged by these pretended friends of human rights and liberties against the unfortunate negroes. Wherever the enemy have been able to gain access, they have forced into the ranks of their army every able-bodied man that they could seize, and have either left the aged, the women, and the children to perish by starvation, or have gathered them into camps, where they have been wasted by a frightful mortality. Without clothing or shelter, often without food, incapable, without supervision, of taking the most ordinary precaution against disease, these helpless dependents, accustomed to have their wants supplied by the foresight of their masters, are being rapidly exterminated wherever brought in contact with the invaders. By the Northern man, on whose deep-rooted prejudices no kindly restraining influence is exercised, they are treated with aversion and neglect There is little hazard in predicting that, in all localities where the enemy have gained a temporary foothold, the negroes, who under our care increased six fold in number since their importation into the colonies of Great Britain, will have been reduced by mortality during the war to not more than one half their previous number.
Information on this subject is derived not only from our own observation and from the reports of the negroes who succeeded in escaping from the enemy, but full confirmation is afforded by statements published in the Northern journals, by humane persons engaged in making appeals to the charitable for aid in preventing the ravages of disease, exposure, and starvation among the negro women and children who are crowded into encampments.
The frontier of our country bears witness to the alacrity and efficiency with which the general orders of the enemy have been executed in the devastation of the farms, the destruction of the agricultural implements, the burning of the houses, and the plunder of every thing movable. Its whole aspect is a comment on the ethics of the general order issued by the United States on the twenty-fourth of April, 1863, comprising "instructions for the government of armies of the United States in the field," and of which the following is an example:
"Military necessity admits of all direct destruction of life or limb of armed enemies, and of other persons whose destruction is incidentally unavoidable in the armed contests of the war; it allows of the capturing of every armed enemy, and of every enemy of importance to the hostile government, or of peculiar danger to the captor; it allows of all destruction of property and obstructions of the ways and channels of traffic, travel, or communication, and of all withholding of sustenance or means of life from the enemy; of the appropriation of whatever an enemy's country affords necessary for the subsistence and safety of the army, and of such deception as does not involve the breaking of good faith, either positively pledged regarding agreements entered into during the war, or supposed by the modern law of war to exist Men who take up arms against one another in public war do not cease on this account to be moral beings, responsible to one another and to God."
The striking contrast to these teachings and practices, presented by our army when invading Pennsylvania, illustrates the moral character of our people. Though their forbearance may have been unmerited and unappreciated by the enemy, it was imposed by their own self-respect, which forbade their degenerating from Christian warriors into plundering ruffians, assailing the property, lives, and honor of helpless non-combatants. If their conduct, when thus contrasted with the inhuman practices of our foe, fail to command the respect and sympathy of civilized nations in our day, it cannot fail to be recognized by their less deceived posterity.
The hope last year entertained of an early termination of the war has not been realized. Could carnage have satisfied the appetite of our enemy for the destruction of human life, or grief have appeased their wanton desire to inflict human suffering, there has been bloodshed enough on both sides, and two lands have been sufficiently darkened by the weeds of mourning to induce a disposition for peace.
If unanimity in a people could dispel delusion, it has been displayed too unmistakably not to have silenced the pretence that the Southern States were merely disturbed by a factious insurrection, and it must long since have been admitted that they were but exercising their re
served right to modify their own government in such manner as would best secure their own happiness. But these considerations have been powerless to allay the unchristian hate of those who, accustomed to draw large profits from a union with us, cannot control the rage excited by the conviction that they have, by their own folly, destroyed the richest source of their prosperity. They refuse even to listen to proposals for the only peace possible between us—a peace which, recognizing the impassable, and which divides us, may leave the two people separately to recover from the injuries inflicted on both by the causeless war now waged against us. Having begun the war in direct violation of their Constitution, which forbade the attempt to coerce a State, they have been hardened by crime, until they no longer attempt to veil their purpose to destroy the institutions and subvert the sovereignty and independence of these States. We now know that the only hope for peace is in the vigor of our resistance, as the cessation of their hostility is only to be expected from the pressure of their necessities.
The patriotism of the people has proved equal to every sacrifice demanded by their country's need. We have been united as a people never were united under like circumstances before. God has blessed us with success disproportionate to our means, and, under his divine favor, our labors must at last be crowned with the reward due to men who have given all they possess to the righteous defence of their inalienable rights, their homes, and their altars.
Kichmoid, December 7,1S6S.
Doc. 22., NEGRO TROOPS AT FORT WAGNER.
REPORT OF MAJOR T. B. BROOKS. Headquabtxrs Drpahtmbot or Th« Sooth, I
Exoijur's Office, Foixt Island, S. C, Dec. 10, 1863. )
General: In accordance with your instructions, I have the honor to submit the following statement, relating to the amount and nature of the fatigue-duty performed by the colored troops of this command, as compared with the white, in those portions of our recent operations against the defences of Charleston harbor, which were under my direction, namely, the defensive line across Morris Island, the approaches against Fort Wagner, and part of the breaching batteries against Fort Sumter.
In the engineering operations, thirty-three thousand five hundred days' work, of seven hours each, were expended, of which five thousand five hundred were by engineer troops, and six thousand by infantry; nine thousand five hundred days' work, being more than half of that performed by the infantry, and two fifths of the whole, were by blacks, all being volunteer troops.
The whole of this work was done under a fire of artillery or sharp-shooters, or both, and the greater part of it in the night
My own observation, confirmed by the testimony of all the engineer officers who had the immediate superintendence of the work, proves that the blacks, as a rule, did a greater amount of work than the same number of whites; but the whites were more skilful, and had to be employed on the more difficult part of the work, comprising about one fifth of the whole.
We found the black soldier more timorous than the white, but in a corresponding degree more docile and obedient, doing just what he was told to the best of his ability, but seldom with enthusiasm.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Major-General Q. A. Gillmore,
Commanding Department of the South.
HEAP. ADMIRAL BAILEY'S REPORTS.
United States Flag-ship San Jacinto, )
Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy:
Sir: I have the gratification of reporting a very important service performed by the blockading force at St Andrew's Sound, under command of Acting Master William R, Browne, in destroying a very extensive and valuable quality of salt-works, both at Lake Ocala and in St. Andrew's Bay. The circumstances are as follows: On the second of December, a boat was despatched from the bark Restless, then lying at St. Andrew's, bound to Lake Ocala, some twenty miles to the westward, where Acting Ensign James J. Russell landed with his men, and marched some five miles inland to Kent's Saltworks, consisting of three different establishments, and utterly destroyed them. There were six steamboat boilers at this place, cut in half lengthwise, and seven kettles made expressly for the purpose, each holding two hundred gallons. They were in the practice of burning out one hundred and thirty gallons of salt daily. Beside destroying these boilers, a large quantitv of salt was thrown into the lake. Two large flat-boats and six ox-carts were demolished, and seventeen prisoners were taken, who were paroled and released, as the boat was too small to bring them away.
On the first of December, Acting Ensign Edwin Cressy arrived at St Andrew's Sound, from the East Pass of Santa Rosa Sound, with the sternwheel steamer Bloomer, and her tender, the sloop Carolina, having heard of the expedition to Lake Ocala, and placed his command at the disposal of Acting Master Browne for more extensive operations near St Andrew's; and accordingly three officers and forty-eight men were sent from the Restless to the Bloomer, and she proceeded to West Bay, where the rebel government's saltworks were first destroyed, which produced four hundred bushels daily. At this place there were
twenty-seven buildings, twenty-two boilers, and some two hundred kettles, averaging two hundred gallons each, all of which were destroyed, together with five thousand bushels of salt and some storehouses containing some three months' provisions—the whole estimated at half a million of dollars. From this point the expedition proceeded down the bay, destroying private saltworks, which lined each side for a distance of seven miles, to the number of one hundred and ninety-eight different establishments, averaging two boilers and two kettles each, together with a large quantity of salt; five hundred and seven kettles were dug up and rendered useless, and over two hundred buildings were destroyed, together with twenty-seven wagons and five large flat-boats.
The entire damage to the enemy is estimated by Acting Master Browne at three million dollars.
Thirty-one contrabands employed at those works gladly availed themselves of this opportunity to escape, and were of great service in pointing out the places where the kettles were buried for concealment In the mean time, while these operations were going on, Acting Master Browne got under way in the bark Restless, and ran up to within one hundred yards of the town of St. Andrew's, which had been reported by deserters to him as being occupied by a military force for the last ten months, and commenced shelling the place and some soldiers, who made a speedy retreat to the woods.
Selecting the weathermost houses for a target, the town was fired by the third shell, and thirtytwo houses were soon reduced to ashes. No resistance was offered to our people throughout the affair. Acting Master Browne speaks in high terms of Acting Ensigns James J..Russell and Charles N. Hicks, and the forty-eight men from the Restless, as also of Acting Ensign Edwin Cressy and the six men belonging to the Bloomer, for the prompt manner in which they carried out his orders. Respectfully,
Acting Rear-Admiral Commanding E. G. B. Squadron.
V. 8. Flag-ship Sab Jancmto, I
Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the ffatiy:
Sir: It gives me great pleasure to call the attention of the department to a very important service performed by the schooner Fox, a tender of the San Jacinto, under the command of Acting Master George Ashbury. The circumstances are as follows:
On the twentieth of December, a steamer was discovered in the mouth of the Suwanee River, apparently at anchor or aground. The Fox immediately beat up toward her until, when within about three quarters of a mile of the steamer, she grounded in eight and a half feet of water, and opened upon her with the howitzer, at the same time sending an armed boat in to capture the steamer. An attempt was made to intimidate our people by mounting a piece of stove-pipe on a chair, to represent a forecastle gun, and a log of