In future wars the rule requiring regimental commandants to hand in an official report after each battle, should be rigidly enforced.
Each colonel should be instructed to order a count made of his men just before going into action, instead of referring to the morning report for information regarding the strength of his command.
Commandants should not only hand in a casualty list, but should see that it is properly classified, and that a copy is promptly transmitted to the proper bureau or to some place of safety.
The totals of the casualty list should be included in the official report, accompanied by an accurate statement of the number of officers and men in line or actually engaged.
In each regiment there should be some officer, attached to the non-commissioned staff, who should be entrusted with the care and preparation of the regimental statistics and casualty lists; and this person should be exempted from all liability to accidents in battle, and should not be allowed to go into action.
During such times as the regiment was not engaged in an active campaign, this officer would find ample employment in ascertaining the fate of missing men, and of the wounded and sick who were absent in hospital or on furlough.
All statements of casualties in battle made by him should be accompanied by a report of the number engaged, and such statements, together with all other mortuary reports, should be made in manifold, one copy to be forwarded to the War Department and one to the Adjutant-General
of the State
to which the regiment belonged.
There should, also, be a definite agreement between belligerents that all captured records of this class should not be destroyed; and, that a full record should be carefully made of the fate of all prisoners within their respective lines.
To all this some may sneer and some will say, “Cui bono
If so, let it be remembered that there are other reasons than money or patriotism which induce men to risk life and limb in war. There is the love of glory and the expectation of honorable recognition.
But the private in the ranks expects neither.
His identity is merged in that of his regiment.
To him the regiment and its name is everything.
He does not expect to see his own name on the page of history, and is content with a proper recognition of the old command in which he fought.
But he is jealous of the record of his regiment, and demands credit for every shot it faced and every grave it filled.
The bloody laurels for which a regiment contends will always be awarded to the one with the longest Roll of Honor.
Scars are the true evidence of wounds, and the regimental scars can be seen only in the record of its casualties.
In our last war many a noble regiment lost the place in history to which it was entitled through a failure to file the proper records of its gallant deeds.
Will it always be so?