Page:A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I.djvu/401

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371
First Congress.

compensation to the conscript, who then would have added to the service a soldier not otherwise liable to enrollment.

On the subject of exemptions, it is believed that abuses cannot be checked unless the system is placed on a basis entirely different from that now provided by law. The object of your legislation has been not to confer privileges on classes, but to exonerate from military duty such number of persons skilled in the various trades, professions, and mechanical pursuits as could render more valuable service to their country by laboring in their present occupation than by going into the ranks of the Army. The policy is unquestionable, but the result would, it is thought, be better obtained by enrolling all such persons and allowing details to be made of the number necessary to meet the wants of the country. Considerable numbers are believed to be now exempted from the military service who are not needful to the public in their civil vocation.

Certain duties are now performed throughout the country by details from the Army which could be as well executed by persons above the present conscript age. An extension of the limit so as to embrace persons over forty-five years and physically fit for service in guarding posts, railroads, and bridges, in apprehending deserters, and, where practicable, assuming the place of younger men detailed for duty with the Niter, Ordnance, Commissary, and Quartermaster's Bureaus of the War Department, would, it is hoped, add largely to the effective force in the field without an undue burden on the population.

If to the above measures be added a law to enlarge the policy of the act of the 21st of April, 1862, so as to enable the Department to replace not only enlisted cooks, but wagoners and other employees in the Army, by negroes, it is hoped that the ranks of the Army will be so strengthened for the ensuing campaign as to put to defiance the utmost efforts of the enemy.

In order to maintain unimpaired the existing organization of the Army until the close of the war, your legislation contemplated a frequent supply of recruits, and it was expected that before the expiration of the three years for which the men were enrolled under act of 16th of April, 1862, the majority of men in each company would consist of those who joined it at different dates subsequent to the original muster of the company into service, and that the discharge of those who had completed their term would at