Page:A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I.djvu/294

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
Messages and Papers of the Confederacy.

the first section provides "that the rank, pay, and allowances of a brigadier general in the Provisional Army of the Confederate States be, and the same are hereby, conferred on the Surgeon General of the same." There exists no such officer as the Surgeon General of the Provisional Army. The plain intent, therefore, of Congress to confer the rank of brigadier general in the Provisional Army on the Surgeon General of the Permanent Army would be defeated unless the language of this section be changed.

According to the provisions of the law as it now stands there is a Medical Department organized for the Permanent Army under the act of the 26th of February, 1861, entitled "An Act for the establishment and organization of a general staff for the Army of the Confederate States of America," the chief of which is styled the Surgeon General. The only legislation providing for medical officers for provisional troops is the ninth section of the act of the 6th of March, 1861, which enacts that when volunteers or militia are called into service of the Confederate States in such numbers that the "officers of the Medical Department, which may be authorized by law for the regular service, are not sufficient for . . . furnishing them with the requisite medical attendance, it shall be lawful for the President to appoint, with the advice and consent of the Congress, as many additional officers of the said Department as the service may require, not exceeding . . . one surgeon and one assistant surgeon for each regiment, . . . to continue in service only so long as their services may be required in connection with the militia or volunteers."

There is an act of 14th of August, 1861, on the same subject, but it confines the appointments authorized by it to such surgeons and assistant surgeons as may be necessary for the various hospitals.

The third and fourth sections of the act now returned to you permit and require the assignment of a number of surgeons and assistant surgeons to military departments, to divisions, to brigades, and to infantry and cavalry regiments largely in excess of the number allowed by the law just quoted, but no authority is given for the appointment of the increased number of medical officers, and it would be impracticable to execute the law unless by adopting the inadmissible construction that an authority to