of the bill, that the President
shall fill all vacancies occurring in the volunteer regiments, with this counter requirement of the Constitution
The eighth section repeals all laws and parts of laws conflicting with the provisions of the bill under consideration.
Repealing thus the law or laws under which the volunteers enlisted and were mustered into the service, this section.
would, in the opinion of your committee, disband every volunteer regiment now in the field.
The committee believe that the distinction which the Constitution
has drawn between the regular and the militia service is too plain to need further elucidation, and too well grounded to be abrogated by a simple act of Congress, even in these revolutionary times.
It is not doubted that Congress has power to increase the regular army to the number contemplated by the bill under consideration, or to any larger number deemed necessary for the protection and vindication of the Union
and its laws, but it is doubted that the Congress
possess power, in defiance of the letter and spirit of the Constitution
, to transmute volunteers into regulars and regulars into volunteers.
The two systems are made different and distinct in their whole object and organization, by the Constitution
itself, and they must be kept so by law.
Had your committee felt no distrust of the present as the proper time for effecting radical changes in our military system, nor found any constitutional embarrassments in the way of recommending the passage of the bill by the Senate, there exist other substantial objections which would alone impel them to withhold such recommendation.
Our people are not a military people.
Practicing the gentler arts of peace, we have been builders, not destroyers; and the instruments by which we have reclaimed a land from barbarism to civilization have not been the gun, the sabre, and the lance, but the plough, the loom, and the anvil.
The genius of our people has thus been averse to war.
Our people are jealous of their personal liberty, and are impatient of restraint.
Enjoying, in a larger degree than the people of any other country, freedom of action and of speech, they do not willingly yield such enjoyment, except in the presence of some great public danger, which requires the sacrifice of individual comfort to the general good.
It is thus that the dispositions of our people have harmonized with the true interests of our country.
A large military establishment is the bane of any nation, exhausting its resources, and endangering its liberties.
Happily for us, the unerring instincts of our virtuous, intelligent masses, have uniformly thwarted all the attempts of ambitious men to create great standing armies; and the saving of our wealth, which has made us strong, and the preservation of our institutions, which has left us free, is owing, more than to all other causes, to the peaceful temper of our people, and to their jealous love of personal freedom.
The deep-seated prejudice against the profession of arms as an employment, has been amply illustrated since the beginning of this rebellion.
When the President
called upon the country for volunteers, more than a million of citizens tendered themselves for this branch of the military service.
When, on the other hand, the Congress
, by the act of twenty-ninth of July last, authorized the addition of eleven regiments to the regular army, the people gave, comparatively, no response.
It is true that the offices of these new regiments were quickly applied for and appointed; but their ranks remain unfilled to this day. No fact could demonstrate more fully than this the repugnance of the great mass of the people against entering the regular army as common soldiers.
The Congress recognized this popular repugnance in the act above referred to; for, in the fifth section, the term of enlistments made during the years 1861 and 1862 is reduced from five years to the volunteer term of three years, and in all respects, as to bounties already allowed, or to be allowed, the regular recruit is placed upon the same footing as the volunteer.
In spite of all this, the fact remains that the volunteer enlistments have been more than fifty to one over the enlistments in the regular service.
And this is a fact, the significance of which your committee do not feel at liberty to disregard.
It shows that the people consider service in the ranks
of the regular army as a personal degradation.
They have, in following their instincts and prejudices, unconsciously voted upon the proposition of the bill under review, that the “volunteers shall form, and be hereafter considered, a part of the regular army of the United States,” and their verdict is before the country, protesting, nearly a hundred voices to one, against its adoption.
If, therefore, there were no objections against the measure proposed, either in respect of the time when it is to go into effect, or of the constitutional barriers which stand in its way, the fact here demonstrated, that, with the vast bulk of the grand army now enlisted for the defence of the Union
, the measure will be regarded as one of degradation, and as an outrage upon their rights and character, would, of itself, determine the committee to report against its passage.
If, however, it shall be considered that your committee have misconceived the whole subject under consideration, and that they have been in error in regarding the regular as the least popular branch of the military service, they would yet be inclined to. doubt the expediency of the change proposed.
They can realize that if the regular branch of the army be considered the most desirable, its own character, and that of the volunteer branch may be improved by keeping the two organizations separate and distinct, as they now are. In such a view, the transfer from an inferior to a superior branch of the service, would be an ever present object of ambition, stimulating the volunteer to a higher valor, and to the more faithful discharge of his duties; while its beneficial effects would soon