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Adjutant and Inspector General Reports

1864 Report

Town Credits

As the war has progressed, the importance of preserving perfect records of town credits has become of constantly increasing importance, until now, when towns are paying the present large bounties, entire accuracy is absolutely required. In the year 1861 this subject attracted but little attention. Men enlisted with enthusiasm, without regard to localities, few towns paid any attention to the enlistment of their resident citizens, and the recruits allowed recruiting officers to enter their residence upon the rolls without any regard to their accuracy, or even to omit entering any place of residence. The Roster of the Regiments was imperfect, the entire Cavalry Regiment having no entry of residences against the names of the men, and very many names occurring in all the other regiments in the same condition. In April, 1862, the Listers of the several towns were instructed to return, with their returns of the enrolled militia, lists of all the volunteers, who had enlisted from their respective towns; but the Listers attached but little importance to the requirement, and the lists proved to be very imperfect. I had, however, no choice but to accept them as accurate, as I had then no means of testing their correctness. The quotas of 1,200 men, required, in August of that year, to fill old regiments, were based upon these lists. As soon as it was ascertained, that the subject of town credits possessed importance in this view, complaints multiplied as to the inaccuracy of these lists. I therefore, when the enrolment of August, 1862, was made, directed the selectmen of each town to prepare and return new lists of the volunteers furnished by their respective towns. These lists proved nearly as inaccurate as those returned in April, but in a different way; for, while many men were omitted from the previous lists, the selectmen were so anxious, in August, to obtain all the credit that belonged to them, that they inserted the names of many men, to whom they had no claim, an yet, at the same time, omitted the names of many men, whom they might well have claimed. These lists were examined as carefully as the limited time would allow; but, having then no Alphabetical Roster, the detection of all the errors was impossible. In the summer of 1863, having in the meantime prepared an Alphabetical Roster of al the men in service, I caused as careful a revision of town credits to be made, as was practicable, and these were carried into the quotas assessed under the call of October 17, 1863. Every man, who had enlisted subsequent to the time when the raising of the Ninth Regiment had been commenced, in May, 1862, had been properly credited, by name, to the town mentioned in his enlistment contract as his place of residence,; and probably but few errors have occurred since that time. But, after making all the effort possible to perfect the lists of credits for enlistments previous to that time, it was found necessary to close the accounts by crediting to the State at large all the remaining enlistments, which had not been specifically claimed by and credited to towns. These credits at large were then apportioned to all the towns, upon the basis of population, and the accounts for men furnished previous to October 1, 1863, were closed, the quotas assessed, and a new account opened with each town. In closing these accounts, each own was credited with any surplus over previous calls, which was shown by the books to belong to it, and has had the benefit of such surplus in response to the calls since made. Some towns were apparently deficient on previous calls; but as it was impossible to determine, whether this was in all cases a real deficiency, or only apparent, and caused rather by the omission to make returns than by negligence in raising men, the deficiencies were not carried forward, and such towns were allowed to start with a fresh account under the call of October 17th. Had a different course been practicable, it would have been adopted; but under the circumstance, arising from the mod in which enlistments had been made and records kept in 1861, this was the only course which could be adopted, without hazard of doing injustice to really meritorious towns.

Since the assessment of the quotas under the call of Oct. 17, 1863, a strictly accurate account has been kept with every town, giving credit, on each new call, for any surplus previously furnished, and charging all deficiencies. This has been greatly facilitated by the present Mustering Regulations of the War Department, which require that every recruit shall be mustered to the credit of some locality, which shall be named upon the Muster-in Roll. Those Rolls constitute unimpeachable evidence of the credit, and cannot be varied, except by supplementary Rolls, prepared with equal formality, and based upon conclusive evidence of error in the original Rolls. Every recruit, as soon as his enlistment contract is received, is credited, provisionally, upon a book kept for that purpose, to the town named as his residence in the contract. When the Muster-in Rolls are received, if they show that the man has been rejected, or has otherwise failed of being mustered into the United States' service, the proper entry is made against his name, and the credit is not carried forward; but if the Rolls show the man mustered, then the credit is carried forward upon the "Town Ledger," and becomes absolute, to be varied only by full proof of error in the Rolls. This mode of keeping the accounts has enabled me not only to prepare and adjust, in monthly settlements, the accounts of the State with the United States for men furnished, but also to reply promptly to all inquiries made by selectmen, and show them at any time the exact standing of their respective towns. Although the system thus adopted involves much labor and great and constant care, yet it is believed to be strictly and closely accurate, and to be the best which can be devised.

Under the direction of the Governor, I have prepared lists of all the soldiers which stand credited to each town since the commencement of the war, and these lists are annexed in Appendix E.

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