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 engaged in the field, the first class of duties was the more important. But since provost-marshals were appointed for every military department, though no active warfare was in progress within its limits and they assumed the right to arrest citizens on suspicion and confine them without trial, very often the magisterial side of the office was uppermost. Not all the military commanders viewed the activity of these officers with satisfaction. General Schofield, while commanding in Missouri, quotes with approval the statement of General S. R. Curtis that the ‘creation of the so-called provost-marshal invented a spurious military officer which has embarrassed the service. . . . Everybody appoints provostmar-shals and these officers seem to exercise plenary powers.’ General Schofield goes on to say that these officers are ‘entirely independent of all commanders except the commander of the department, and hence of necessity pretty much independent of them.’ The provost-marshals in a department had, or assumed, powers depending in extent somewhat upon the character of the commander. No position in the service demanded greater discretion and sounder judgment. Some of the officers appointed, both civilian and soldier, displayed unusual tact and decision, while others were both obstinate and arbitrary. Perhaps it was too much to expect that all of the hundreds of deputies appointed should be men able to impress their personality and enforce the laws without friction. While all of the duties mentioned above were important, it is chiefly with the provost-marshal acting under his authority to make searches, seizures, and arrests of the premises, property, and persons of citizens that we are chiefly concerned in this chapter. The action of the provost-marshal brought to a consciousness of the citizen the fact that war existed as did that of no other officer. Later, the supervision of the draft was placed in charge of the provost-marshal-general at Washington, who had no other duties, and the incidents and events
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