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Headquarters of provost-marshal-general, defenses South of the Potomac Provost-marshals were appointed for every military department, even if no active warfare was in progress within its limits. They assumed the right to arrest citizens on suspicion and confine them without trial. Not all the military commanders viewed the activity of these officers with satisfaction. General S. R. Curtis stated that the ‘creation of the so-called provost-marshal invented a spurious military officer which has embarrassed the service. . . . Everybody appoints provost-marshals and these officers seem to exercise plenary powers.’ General Schofield quoted this statement with approval, and said that these officers were ‘entirely independent of all commanders except the commander of the department, and hence of necessity pretty much independent of them.’ The provost-marshals continued, nevertheless, to exercise large authority.

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Schofield (1)
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