but in such a manner only as might be compatible with safety to the service.
For reasons already stated, this order and the instructions accompanying it were necessarily referred to General Johnston
, who deemed it best, at the time, to withhold its publication.
On the 17th, circulars under cover to General Beauregard
, and separately addressed to his care, were received from Richmond
, for all the colonels in the army, providing for the issue of recruiting commissions from all regiments, battalions, and independent companies.
This new official freak, on the part of the Acting Secretary of War
, following, as it did, closely upon the ‘bounty and furlough law,’ as it was called in the army, was calculated to do the greatest harm, and pressed heavily, not only upon company and regimental commanders, but, likewise, upon the generals in chief
. General Johnston
, alluding to this unfortunate intervention of Mr. Benjamin
, says in his ‘Narrative of Military Operations,’ page 90: ‘Either from defects in the law itself, or faults in the manner in which it was administered, it had the effect of weakening the army, by its immediate operation, without adding to its strength subsequently.
Its numbers were greatly reduced before the end of the month by furloughs under the recent law, given directly by the Acting Secretary of War
It was further weakened, and its discipline very much impaired, by Mr. Benjamin
's daily interference in its administration and interior management.
That officer was in the habit of granting leaves of absence, furloughs, and discharges, accepting resignations, and detailing soldiers to labor for contractors, or on nominal service, taking them out of the army upon applications made directly to himself, without the knowledge of the officers whose duty it was to look to the interests of the government in such cases.
He also granted indiscriminately, to officers, privates
, and civilians, authority to raise companies of cavalry and artillery—especially the latter— from our excellent infantry regiments, in some instances for merely local services.’
Meanwhile, a widespread spirit of discontent arose, from withholding the publication of the orders of the department respecting furloughs; and General Beauregard
again found himself in the embarrassing position of being addressed and looked to by the War Department as the commander of the army, while in reality he had not been invested with such command by the commander of the military department.