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Doc. 1.-Military measures of Congress.


No. 1. employment of volunteers.

In pursuance of the Proclamation of the President, of the fifteenth of April, 1861, the Thirty-seventh Congress assembled on the fourth of July. On the sixth, Mr. Wilson, of Massachusetts, Chairman of the Committee on Military Affairs, agreeably to notice given on the first day of the session, introduced into the Senate the following bills and joint resolution:

A bill to authorize the employment of volunteers to aid in enforcing the laws and protecting public property;

A bill to increase the present military establishment of the United States;

A bill providing for the better organization of the military establishment;

A bill for the organization of a volunteer militia force, to be called the National Guard of the United States; and

A joint resolution to ratify and confirm certain acts of the President for the suppression of insurrection and rebellion.

These bills and this joint resolution were referred to the Committee on Military Affairs, consisting of Mr. Wilson, of Massachusetts, Mr. King of New-York, Mr. Baker, of Oregon, Mr. Lane, of Indiana, Mr. Lane, of Kansas, Mr. Rice, of Minnesota, and Mr. Latham, of California. Mr. Wilson also introduced a bill to promote the efficiency of the army, which was referred, on motion of Mr. Grimes, of Iowa, to a special committee of nine, consisting of Mr. Wilson, Mr. Hale, Mr. Sherman, Mr. Powell, Mr. Cowan, Mr. King, Mr. Kennedy, and Mr. Howe.

On the eighth of July, Mr. Wilson, from the Committee on Military Affairs, reported back the bill to authorize the employment of volunteers, with amendments. The original bill proposed that the President be authorized to accept the services of volunteers in such numbers as he might deem necessary, and that the sum of four hundred millions of dollars be appropriated to carry the act into effect; that each regiment of infantry should have one colonel, one lieutenant-colonel, one major, one adjutant, one paymaster, one quartermaster, one surgeon, and one assistant surgeon, one sergeant-major, one regimental quartermaster sergeant, one regimental commissary sergeant, one hospital steward, two principal musicians, and twenty-four musicians for a band; and should be composed of ten companies, each company to consist of one captain, one first lieutenant, one second lieutenant, one first sergeant, four sergeants, eight corporals, two musicians, one wagoner, and from sixty-four to eighty-two privates; that these forces should be organized into divisions of three or more brigades each; and each division should have a major-general, each brigade should be composed of four or more regiments, and should have one brigadier-general; that the President should be authorized to appoint, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, for the command of the forces provided for, a number of major-generals, not exceeding six, and a number of brigadier-generals, not exceeding eighteen; that the officers, non-commissioned officers, and privates should, in all respects, be placed on the footing, as to pay and allowances, of similar corps of the regular army, and their allowances for clothing be three dollars and fifty cents per month;

That volunteers who might be wounded or otherwise disabled in the service, should be entitled to the benefits which might have been or might be conferred on persons disabled in the regular service; and the legal heirs of such as died or might be killed in service, in addition to all arrears of pay and allowances, should receive the sum of one hundred dollars;

That there should be allowed to each regiment, one chaplain, who must be a regular ordained minister of a Christian denomination, and who should receive the pay and allowances of a captain of cavalry;

That the general commanding a separate department, or a detached army, be authorized to appoint a military board or commission of not less than three nor more than five officers, whose duty it should be to examine the capacity, qualifications, propriety of conduct, and efficiency of any commissioned officer of volunteers within his department or army;

That whenever a regiment of volunteers should be mustered into the service, the colonel, lieutenant-colonel, major, adjutant, and quartermaster thereof, should each have the privilege of franking any letter from any person belonging, in any capacity, to such regiment, not weighing over two ounces. [2]

On the tenth, the Senate proceeded to the consideration of the bill and the proposed amendments. The first amendment, authorizing the President to call out five hundred thousand men, and appropriating five hundred millions of dollars, was agreed to; but, on motion of Mr. Sherman, of Ohio, the appropriation was stricken out. On motion of Mr. Rice, of Minnesota, the ninth section was so amended as to give chaplains the compensation of army chaplains instead of captains of cavalry. Mr. Rice then moved to strike out the eleventh section, allowing officers of volunteers to frank soldiers' letters. He avowed his willingness to vote an allowance of money to each regiment to defray postage expenses, but he believed the authority to frank soldiers' letters would lead to great abuses. Mr. Wilson opposed the amendment. He had franked thousands of soldiers' letters, and had done so freely. Mr. Collamer, of Vermont, did not think it would add to the expenses of the Post-Office Department, and he was opposed to the amendment. Mr. Rice withdrew his motion to amend.

Mr. Nesmith, of Oregon, said he knew men to-day sweating under the epaulets of brigadiers and major-generals who could not pass a board of any intelligent army officers in the world, if they were applicants for the position of first lieutenant, and he moved to amend the fourth section by adding:

That the President might select the major-generals and brigadier-generals provided for in the act, from the line or staff of the regular army; and the officers so selected, should be permitted to retain their rank therein.

Mr. Wilson said the proposition was in harmony with the policy he had advocated. “There are,” he said, “several officers in the army, of great distinction, who would make excellent major and brigadier-generals. I think, and have thought, that those men ought to be selected in preference to civilians, however eminent they may be in talent or character. I shall, therefore, vote for this amendment; and I think that if it be sustained, it will enable the President of the United States to appoint some major and brigadier-generals from officers in the regular army, reserving to them the places they now hold in the army at the end of the contest, and that the country will be benefited by such a selection.”

Mr. Nesmith's amendment was agreed to.

Mr. Powell, of Kentucky, moved to strike out the provision giving the franking privilege, and insert an amendment abolishing the franking privilege altogether; but the motion was lost. Mr. Saulsbury, of Delaware, moved to strike out of the first section “five hundred thousand men,” and insert “two hundred thousand men.” “He was,” he declared, “fearful the Union would not be preserved by the mode contemplated in this bill, and suggested in the message of the President.” He would vote men enough to protect the Capitol, and defend the States from invasion, and he believed the force he proposed sufficient for that purpose. Mr. Foster, of Connecticut, thought “two hundred thousand men too many to make peace, and too few to make war.” The amendment was defeated — yeas, five; nays, thirty-two. The bill passed the Senate.

On the eleventh, a message was sent to the House, on motion of Mr. Wilson, requesting the return of the bill. The House having returned it, the Senate, on the twelfth, reconsidered the vote on its passage. Mr. Wilson then moved to strike out the first section, and insert: “That the President be authorized to accept the services of volunteers, in such numbers, not exceeding five hundred thousand, as he may deem necessary for the purpose of repelling invasion, suppressing insurrection, enforcing the laws, and preserving and protecting the public property. The volunteers mustered into the service under this act, shall serve for the term of three years, unless sooner discharged by the President; but nothing in this section shall affect enlistments for a shorter period of volunteers already mustered into the service. Before receiving into service any number of volunteers exceeding those now called for and accepted, the President shall, from time to time, issue his proclamation stating the number desired, either as cavalry, infantry, or artillery, and the States from which they are to be furnished, having reference in any such requisition to the number then in service from the several States, and equalizing, as far as practicable, the number furnished by the several States according to the Federal population.” And this amendment was agreed to. Mr. Wilson then moved to amend the fourth section by adding that “the Governors of the States furnishing volunteers under this act shall commission the field, staff, and company officers requisite for the said volunteers; but in cases where the said authorities refuse or omit to furnish volunteers at the call or on the proclamation of the President, and volunteers from such States offer their services under such call or proclamation, the President shall have power to accept such services, and to commission the proper field, staff, and company officers;” and it was agreed to. Mr. Wilson then moved to reconsider the vote by which chaplains were to receive the same compensation as chaplains in the army, instead of the compensation of captains of cavalry. In support of the motion, Mr. Wilson maintained that the faith of the nation was plighted to chaplains who came out with the regiments mustered into service.

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