Page:A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I.djvu/404

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Messages and Papers of the Confederacy.

be justified by the existence of an absolute necessity. The report of the Secretary on this point establishes conclusively that the necessity which has forced the bureaus of supply to provide for the Army by impressment has resulted from the impossibility of purchase by contract or in the open market, except at such rapidly increased rates as would have rendered the appropriations inadequate to the wants of the Army. Indeed, it is believed that the temptation to hoard supplies for the higher prices which could be anticipated with certainty has been checked mainly by fear of the operation of the impressment law, and that commodities have been offered in the markets principally to escape impressment and obtain higher rates than those fixed by appraisement. The complaints against this vicious system have been well founded, but the true cause of the evil has been misapprehended. The remedy is to be found not in a change of the impressment law, but in the restoration of the currency to such a basis as will enable the Department to purchase necessary supplies in the open market, and thus render impressment a rare and exceptionable process.

The same remedy will effect the result, universally desired, of an augmentation of the pay of the Army. The proposals made at your previous sessions to increase the pay of the soldier by an additional amount of Treasury notes would have conferred little benefit on him, but a radical reform of the currency will restore the pay to a value approximating that which it originally had, and materially improve his condition.

The reports from the Ordnance and Mining Bureaus are very gratifying, and the extension of our means of supply of arms and munitions of war from our home resources has been such as to insure our ability soon to become mainly, if not entirely, independent of supplies from foreign countries. The establishments for the casting of guns and projectiles, for the manufacture of small arms and of gunpowder, for the supply of niter from artificial niter beds, and mining operations generally, have been so distributed through the country as to place our resources beyond the reach of partial disasters.

The recommendations of the Secretary of War on other points are minutely detailed in his report, which is submitted to you, and, extending as they do to almost every branch of the service, merit careful consideration.