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[276] 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 provisional 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 cointelligence 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 wants 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 been 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 and 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 Gettysburgh, however, remained in their hands, and should have been

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