1146 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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militia law would be to transfer the power to control and employ the persons subject to militia duty from the State to the Confederate authorities, and thereby place it in the power of the President to order the militia of a State to any portion of one Confederacy. The policy of using such persons as might constitute militia under the proposed legislation is more than questionable in view of the fact that the "reserves," under the pressure of the war, are continued indefinitely in the field, and, under a recent act, may be ordered beyond the limits of their respective States. If the militia, also, night be so ordered, the number remaining for local police and State defense, already insufficient for the purpose, would be so far reduced as virtually to deprive the State of all means of self-preservation. It seems manifest that the extension of conscription to persons over the age of forty-five, while it has greatly impaired the productive power of the country and in other respects prejudiced the public service, has been attended by no compesating advantage. And the committee are indisposed to extend an erroneous policy by recommending the adoption of any measure to place other persons over the age of forty-five in the general military service of the Confederate States.
Without enlarging upon the merits of the question, the committee express their conviction that in the failure of Congress to pass a general militia law there is to be found no dereclictionof duty; and that notwithstanding the opinion of the President, from which they have dissented with reluctance--that the proposed measure is the one "most needed at the present time for affording an effective increase to our military strength"--they may without arrogance hope to escape the disapproval of the Army and the people. This being the most important omission of duty alleged by the President as to
the military legislation of Congress, the committee is not unwilling to assume its share of the responsibility of the failure, and feel no apprehension of prejudice to the cause therefrom. The problem most difficult to solve was how to secure the return to the ARmy of officers and men absent without leave. The fact made public by the President of the inability of the Government to secure obedience to military obligation of more than one-half of the number enrolled for service in the Army created much disquietude in the public mind, and the expectation may be supposed to have been general that the President would recommend remedial legislation to correct the evil. Information derived from the proper Department, and upon which appropriations are made by Congress in obedience to official estimates, exhibits an Army of about a half million of men. The support of the Army now in the field creates an alarming pressure upon the energies of the Government; the supply of arms and munitions of war is not considered too abundant for present demand, and Congress may at least be allowed to excuse itself for non-action on the line indicated by the President until some satisfactory assurances are given of the ability to control and employ the means long since placed at the disposal of the Executive Department of the Government. Every measure proposed by the President or the General-in-Chief to secure the speedy return of absentees and deserters has been logalized by Congress, and this committee, not satisfied that the measures thus 'suggested would accomplish the desired result, prepared and reported a bill" most needed at the present time for affording an effective increase to our military strength. " This bill, if objectionable in some of its details, yet promised the most valuable results in its general operation, but encountered opposition from the President so decided as to induce the
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