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Adjutant and Inspector General Reports

1864 Report

Substitutes

The foregoing statements of troops raised during the year include 621 substitutes for enrolled men, and 25 substitutes for drafted men. These have been procured mainly by individual effort, aided in some cases by local bounties, and principally through a class of men known as "substitute brokers." Some of the men thus furnished have been citizens of the State and in every respect reliable and faithful soldiers, induced to enlist as substitutes, rather than as volunteers, by the increased bounty, which they could thus obtain. But by far the great majority of the substitutes have been from the lowest class of refuse city population, of no service to the Government, and serving only a valuable purpose in procuring credits upon paper, -- if that can be considered valuable, which extinguishes the right of the Government to call for men, without giving them men as an equivalent. As a general rule, these men have deserted at the earliest day practicable, after they had been duly mustered and had received their bounties. They have required to be treated and guarded in a manner disgraceful to them as soldiers, and even this has been insufficient to secure their continuance in the service. Of 483 substitutes, who were sent to and actually joined their regiments in 1863, there have already been 141, or nearly thirty per cent, who have been reported as deserters; while a much larger number than this have deserted before reaching the regiments. The really good men of this class are entitled to the same commendation for valuable service rendered, which is accorded to the volunteer soldier. The Roster, printed in Appendix D, shows the names of such men, in such way as to avoid all hazard of doing them personal injustice by any general remarks in reference to substitutes, as a class. But no words of opprobrium are too strong to apply to the "bounty jumpers," who enlist for bounty and desert and enlist again, -- unless, indeed, it is just to consider them slightly less criminal than the "substitute brokers," who procure and sell them, and as often as otherwise aid them to desert, that they may sell them again.

Although some men of this class have been honorable in their dealings with both the principals and substitutes, and have scru- pulously performed whatever promise they have made, yet we lose sight of them, in that much larger body of men, with whom they associate, whose only thought is how to make the most money, who would as soon aid a soldier to desert as to enlist, and who are alike faithless to their employers and to the men whom they obtain. By the effort of the State officers, aided by the active co-operation of the several Provost Marshals, and of the A. A. Provost Marshal General, this class of men has been much diminished in the State, and their operations curtailed and limited in every way practicable. It has been demonstrated, under the last call for men, that the best recruiting territory, which any town has, is within its own borders; and the towns, which acted steadily upon this principle, -- as most of them have, -- have filled their quotas with the same class of men as those who have already, in the field, proved themselves competent, on every battle-field, to vindicate the honor of the State and their own claim to be considered fearless, dashing and determined soldiers.

If, by legislation, the evils arising from the obtaining of recruits through "substitute brokers" can be remedied, or prevented, the remedy, even though of the most stringent character, should be applied.

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