At the date of my last Report, October 1, 1864, there were in the service of the United States, from the State of Vermont, 12,237 men, and a surplus credit of 1,104 men was shown, applicable to any future call which might be made. From the first of October to the nineteenth of December, 1864, recruiting was continued to some extent through out the State, through the agency of the several Provost Marshals, but mainly by those towns which were desirous of obtaining an increased credit in anticipation of another call. One hundred and fifty-four men were enlisted during this time, increasing the surplus credit of the State to 1,168 men, as the records then stood.
On the nineteenth of December, 1864, the President of the United States issued his Proclamation, calling for three hundred thousand Volunteers, to be furnished by the fifteenth day of February, 1865, and ordering a draft on that day for any deficiency which might then exist.
In anticipation of this call, a circular was issued by the Provost Marshal General, on the fifteenth of November, 1864, calling attention to the necessity of correcting the enrolment lists in every district and sub-district; and the importance of this requirement was so obvious, in reference to the future proper and just assessment of the quotas of sub-districts, that the attention of the selectmen and citizens of the several towns in this State was called to it specifically and earnestly by Circular No. 1 (Appendix A), issued from this office November 26, 1864. Very general attention was given to this subject by the different towns, and the corrected enrolment lists showed an aggregate enrolment in the State, on the thirty-first day of December, 1864, of 24,329 men. In making these corrections, considerable difficulty was occasioned by the rule first adopted by the Boards of Enrolment, that in cases of removal of a man enrolled in a town, his name would not be erased from the enrolment of the town until the selectmen of the town had furnished evidence, that he had been enrolled in another district. My attention was called by the selectmen of several towns to the practical delay and liability to injustice, arising from the application of this rule, and correspondence was had with the Acting Assistant Provost Marshal General for this State, which resulted in such modifications of the rule as enabled the selectmen of towns to procure their enrolment lists corrected without serious difficulty. My communication of December 18, 1864, and Circular No. 2, issued by the A. A. Provost Marshal General, will be found in Appendix B.
Much delay occurred in obtaining the quota of the State under the proclamation of the President of December 19, 1864, and great doubt existed, and serious controversy was had, in all the States, in reference to the principles adopted under it for the computation of quotas, and particularly in reference to the results obtained. Circular No. 1, from the Provost Marshal General's Department, (Appendix B,) dated January 2, 1865, created anxiety among the selectmen of towns, who feared that they were to be deprived, under its terms, of all the benefits which had been promised them of surplus credits obtained. This Circular, however, was satisfactorily explained by telegram dated January 14, 1865, (Appendix B,) showing that all credits were to be accounted for in the assessment of quotas, and that Circular No. 1 had application only to the quotas, so assessed, subsequent to their assessment. On the twenty-third of December, 1864, the quota of Vermont, under the call, was assessed; but the assessment was vacated, January 5, 1865, and was never communicated to this office, but information given, that a new assessment would be made, embracing all credits to December 31, 1846, (Appendix B.) As the time previous to the draft ordered was very brief, the selectmen of towns became anxious to be informed what number of men was required of them. Nearly all the towns had an apparent surplus credit, and the local bounties paid for recruits were so excessive, that it had become a matter of pecuniary necessity with the towns to raise no more men than were necessary. Application to the War Department, however, procured only the reply, January 7, 1865, that a re-adjustment of the quotas, based on all credits to December 31, 1864, was in progress, and the result would be forwarded as soon as obtained.
On the twenty-fourth of January, 1865, the quota of the State was computed by the War Department at 1832 men, -- and information of the assessment was received about the twenty-seventh of January. Up to this time no information had been received, which was reliable, or that could be understood, as to the rule which had been adopted for this computation, or the basis upon which it was made. And, upon the assumption that the computation was upon the basis which had been adopted in the assessment of quotas under previous calls, the number assessed was largely in excess of what was shown, by the records in this office, to be the fair proportion of Vermont under the call. Accordingly information was at once given to the A. A. Provost MArshal General for the State, that the assessment could not be accepted as correct, and he was requested to suspend its official announcement to the towns, until the Governor could communicate with the War Department at Washington. But, without regarding this request, the A. A. Provost Marshal General for the State at once assessed the quota upon the towns, and on the first of February published the quotas and called upon each town to furnish the number thus assessed against them.
On the second day of February the Governor, accompanied by myself and Mr. Williams, Secretary of Civil and Military Affairs, proceeded to Washington for the purpose of conferring with the War Department, ascertaining the basis and rule for computation, and procuring, if possible, such re-adjustment of the quota, as should give the State the whole benefit of all troops previously furnished by her, and require only such number to be now raised as should be her fair proportion.
The result was all that could have been anticipated, and the explanations given were entirely satisfactory. The proclamation was intended as a call for three hundred thousand men, to be actually furnished over and above all credits, to which the several States, or any of them, were entitled. The sum of all the credits of all the States, for men furnished in excess of previous calls, was added to the whole number of men for which the call wad made; and the gross amount thus obtained was apportioned upon the several States in proportion to the enrolment of each,--thus requiring each State to assume, under this call, its just proportion of the entire excess of men previously furnished by all the States, above calls previously made, and at the same time furnishing to the Government the number of men for which this call was made. From the proportion of the sum of the call and credits, as assessed upon each State, the credit, to which such State was entitled, was deducted,and the residue was the number of men required from such State, as its proportion of three hundred thousand men to be raised under this call. In making these computations, the three hundred thousand men, to be raised under this call, were computed as men for three years' service, -- making 900,000 years of service. The sum of the credits of all the States, added to the call, was equal to about 480,000 years of service; and the necessity for the addition arose from the fact, that there were no available deficiencies to be charged, and hence the credits would have absorbed the entire call, if allowed as they had been previously, and no men would have been obtained under it.
As the result of a re-examination of quota and credits, the number of men required from the State of Vermont, on the thirty-first day of December, 1864, was reduced from eighteen hundred and thirty-two, as previously assessed, to eleven hundred and ninety-six.
This quota, 1198, was immediately assessed upon the several towns in the States, and General Order No. 7 (Appendix A,) was issued. In making these computations, the quota of each Congressional District was multiplied by three, in order to reduce it to years of service,and the excess of years of service previously furnished was added, making the aggregate quota of the district. Then, as the total enrolment of the district was to the aggregate quota of the district, thus obtained, so was the enrolment of each town to its aggregate quota; and by deducting from the sum thus obtained the excess of years of service to which such town was entitled, the quota of such town in years of service was obtained, which, divided by three, gave the number of men to be actually raised by such town, as its proportion of the call for 300,000 men.
From the time when enlistments for one, two or three years were allowed by law, towns had been assured, that it would be for their ultimate interest to enlist as many men for three years' service, and as few men for one year's service, as possible. The method of computation under this call gave to each town the full benefit of this assurance. Until this call, the accounts kept with the towns have shown the excess in men which each have furnished. But when, under this call, the excess in men was reduced to years of service, if two towns were credited with an equal excess of men, but the men of one of the towns were all for three years, and the men of the other town were all for one year, the former town was allowed a credit three times as large as that allowed to the latter town. And, as the result of the computation, the credit of every town was extinguished, where the credit was less than the aggregate quota; but where the credit exceeded the aggregate quota, as it did in several towns, a number of years' of service, equal to the quota, was deducted from the credit, and the residue of the credit, in years of service reduced to number of men, remained to the future credit of the town.
The delay in the adjustment of the quota under this call was not the only embarrassment in the way of the local and State officers in obtaining enlistments. The recruiting system in the State had been from time to time changed, and improved, until it had become as effective as it could be made. At the commencement of the war, there was no difficulty in obtaining all the men that were required, and no organized system was necessary or was attempted. Subsequently, the plan was adopted, in 1861, of commissioning recruiting officers, whose duty was to canvass thoroughly their respective sections of territory and obtain all the recruits practicable; and the recruits thus obtained were assembled at the rendezvous and consolidated into companies. It was found, however, that the effect of thus uniting different squads of men, raise din different localities and by different recruiting officers, was unfavorable to the harmony of the company and promoted dissension and sectional jealousy. the system was then so far changed as to allow but one recruiting officer to be commissioned for each company, and to select for that position a person who intended to enter the service, and who, from his position and character, would probably be elected to command the company. Under this system, the seventh and eighth regiments were successfully raised. But as it became more difficult to obtain recruits, it was found that it was necessary, that the recruiting officer should have assistance; and the system was so far modified, as to allow one principal recruiting officer to be commissioned for each company, upon the same principle as previously, and to allow him a sufficient number of assistants to canvass thoroughly the territory assigned to him, who reported directly to him, and forwarded to him their recruits, as they were obtained. The ninth, tenth and eleventh regiments were recruited in this manner, and the same system was substantially continued for all the new organizations subsequently raised. But when, in 1862, it became necessary to raise in the State nearly five thousand men for nine months' service and twelve hundred recruits for old regiments, it was found, that some more effective system must be adopted for obtaining men, than merely soliciting them to enlist; and the quotas of the several towns in the State were assessed, each town was charged with the duty of raising its proper proportion, under penalty of a draft, and the selectmen of each town were commissioned as recruiting officers,--thus giving to the government the full benefit of our municipal organizations, and aiding the recruiting services by all the incentives of local pride and patriotism. My annual report for the year 1862will show how successfully this system worked. Where all were uninstructed, and the duties imposed were new, and sufficiently onerous, it was to be expected, that many difficulties would be experienced in the performance of all the practical details necessary, and that many inquiries would be made and doubts suggested. But the system worked effectively, and was founded upon the only fair and just principle for raising large bodies of troops. Under the call of October 17, 1863, for 300,000 men, the system was still farther perfected. Quotas were charged to towns and the selectmen authorized to enlist recruits, as previously; but the State was sub-divided into districts, averaging to to each county, and a superintendent of recruiting appointed for each, who was charged with the duty of aiding the work of recruiting in the several towns, through the agency of the selectmen, by every means practicable, who received from the selectmen, at his central station, all recruits enlisted by them, and who delivered the recruits at the General Rendezvous for the State to a clerk detailed from this office to receive them and present them for muster into the service of the United States. Under this system the work was well and rapidly accomplished, but still was attended with considerable expense. Under the call of July 18, 1864, for 500,000 men, the system of recruiting, by the co-operation of the Acting Assistant Provost Marshal General of the State, and with the assent of the War Department, was farther perfected, by the appointment of a superintendent of recruiting for each county, to whom the selectmen of the several towns in the county made their reports and delivered their recruits, and a General Superintendent of Recruiting for the State, who was present at the Station of each Provost Marshal two days in each week, receiving from the county superintendents within the district, all recruits delivered to them by selectmen, and presented the recruits for muster by the Provost Marshal. The general instructions, under which the recruiting service was thus conducted, will be found in Appendix A of my annual report for the year 1864. This system worked as perfectly, and was attended with as little expense, as was possible. I believe that nor more effective system could be devised. Under it, the whole number of men required from the State was obtained in very short time, and the expense was much less than had been incurred under any previous call.
But on the seventh of December, 1864, a communication was received from the Provost Marshal General's department, entirely abrogating the recruiting system in the State, revoking the power of the selectmen to enlist recruits and confining that authority to the several Provost Marshals, and allowing to selectmen only the privilege of presenting men at the office of the Provost Marshals for enlistment. The effect was, that selectmen, instead of having their entire time for labor in their several towns, and being enabled there to secure their recruits to service by perfecting their enlistment contracts, and thus obtaining authority to control their recruits, as against interference by others, were obliged, when they found men who professed to be willing to enlisted for the bounty offered, to take them, ni many cases, and especially in the third Congressional District, more than one hundred miles, to the office of the Provost Marshal, without power to control them, running the gauntlet of substitute brokers and rival selectmen, and liable to have their men seduced from them at any time by the offer of a higher bounty than they had agreed to receive. to obtain any considerable number of recruits in this manner, without unreasonable expense to the towns and the imposition of unnecessary and largely increased labor upon the selectmen, was mere impossible. Immediate remonstrance was made against this action of the Provost Marshal General, and the continuation of the system, as existing in the State, was urged by the Acting Assistant Provost MArshal General for the State, as being "the best he had ever known." But on the twenty-ninth of December, a decision was received from the Provost Marshal General's department, purporting to be final and absolute, refusing authority to selectmen to enlist recruits and abrogating the entire system previously authorized. Nothing was left for the officers of the State to do, in the way of facilitating enlistments; and to obtain a reversal of this decision was one important matter requiring the journey of the Governor to Washington, above mentioned.
The result of a personal application at the War Department was entirely successful, the advantages of the system were fully recognized, the re-establishment of the system was authorized, and on the ninth of February, 1865, Circular No. 11, was issued by the Acting Assistant Provost Marshal General, fully restoring the system in all its details. the correspondence and orders upon this subject will be found in Appendix B.
Before the quota of the State had been adjusted and announced, and the system for recruiting service re-established, the time named in the President's Proclamation for the draft had arrived. But there had so obviously been no fault on the part of the State, or its officers, the draft was delayed, recruiting, under General Order No. 7, rapidly progressed, and the entire number of men required from the State, and a large surplus over that number, was expeditiously and satisfactorily raised and forwarded to the regiments in the field. The instructions to the several superintendents and selectmen, under which the recruiting service was performed, will be found in Appendix A.
Introduction Frontier Cavalry