1145 Series IV Volume III- Serial 129 - Correspondence, Orders, Reports and Returns of the Confederate Authorities from January 1, 1864, to the End
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of the Army would be effected by its repeal and the substitution of an absolute power of detail by the Executive.
The committee, however, were of opinion that the exemptions now allowed might be still further reduced without serious public detriment, and at an early day of the session reported a bill for that purpose, which, after being partially considered, was postponed, with the view to the immediate passage of the "act to diminish the number of exemptions and details," regarded as more efficient for recruiting the Army.
The recommendations of the President to abolish all class exemptions, and to confer upon him alone the unlimited power of detail, presents the question whether the representatives of the people or the Executive shall decide what persons shall constitute the Army in the field and what pesons shal remain at home in pursuits indispensable to the vital interests of the country.
Without discussing the policy of subjecting all classes, individuals, and avocations to the exclusive control of the Executive department of the Government, experience has demonstrated that the power of detail as heretofore exercised has afforded more unnecessary immunity from military service than the well-guarded legislation upon the subject of exemptions. The committee entertained the opinion that serious abuses had been developed under the system of detail; that this opinion was general and tended to create "discontent and jealousy in the Army" and in the country, which it was advisable to abate by further limitations of the power.
The second measure recommended by the President and deemed by him "the measure most needed at the present time for affording an effective increase to our military strength is a general militia law. " This subject was considered by the committee at an early period of the session, and a bill prepared in pursuance of the recommendations of the President in his regular message. After mature deliberation it was decided that such legislation was unnecessary and inexpedient.
Congress has placed at the disposal of the President all persons fit for military service between the ages of seventeen and fifty, and the committee are unable to understand how it can be expected that the power of defending the country would be increased by the passage of a general militia law embracing persons within those ages.
A minority of this committee were willling to organize the militia of the States, whatever it might consist of, and to authorize the President to call such organizations into the military service of the Confederate States irrespective of State lines, and therefore favored the bill referred to, though they did not consider its passage of prime importance.
As a general proposition it may be confidently stated that the militia organized and employed under State authority embrace more persons than could be made subject to a law of Congress, and are as efficient for State defense as if organized and employed under Confederate authority. The State whose Governor has informed the President "that the law does nto permit him to call the miltia from one county for service in another" has not adopted any such restriction, except as to persons over the age of forty-five. Such is the restriction, the committee are reliably informed, in the State of Alabama, and it is not believed that this or any similar prohibition exists in any other State. It is unreasonable to suppose that any Stae would be legislation seriously impair the efficiency of the force relied on for its own defense. The only material change that could be effected by a general
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