« AnteriorContinua »
prevents that individual isolation, which is to be avoided, when skirmishing with the enemy.
Many of the commands have been altered, making them shorter, without, however, impairing their significancy.
A few movements have been added to facilitate the advance in line, and the better to adapt the system to the features of our country and the nature of our warfare; and also a few in order that the battalion may be instructed in all the movements embodied in the evolutions of the line.
In conclusion, the board is of opinion that this is a most excellent system of tactics for light infantry, riflemen, and skirmishers.
A body of men equal to its full requirements would be of great power and efficiency in a line of battle.
The board is also of opinion that this system might be most advantageously employed in the contests which so frequently occur with the Indian tribes on our frontier.
For volunteer corps, composed of men of intelligence and physical efficiency, this system is superior to any other known to the board.
From the nature of our country and the character of our people, it is peculiarly expedient to substitute for immobility in the ranks and machine-like movements, intelligence, rapidity of motion, and accuracy of fire.
Its adoption is recommended for light infantry and rifle corps, both regular and volunteer.
The board is further of opinion that the drill for skirmishers which it prescribes should be adopted for all troops serving on foot.
S. C. RIDGELY,
J. M. JONES,
HEIRS OF DR. ABSALOM BAIRD.
[To accompany bill H. R. No. 746.]
FEBRUARY 9, 1855.
Mr. Ready, from the Committee of Claims, made the following
The Committee of Claims, to whom the petition of the heirs of Dr. Absalom Baird, deceased, was referred, made the
following report : It appears that Dr, Absalom Baird, the ancestor of the petitioners, was a commissioned surgeon in the army of the revolutionary war, and was in actual service on the 17th day of January, 1781, when the resolution of Congress of that date was passed, providing “ That all officers in the hospital department and medical staff hereinafter mentioned, who shall continue in service to the end of the war, or be reduced before that time as supernumeraries, shall be entitled to and receive, during life, in lieu of half-pay, the following allowance, viz :
Chief physicians and surgeons of the army and hospital, and hospital physicians and surgeons, purveyor, apothecary, and regimental surgeons, each equal to the half-pay of a captain.
T'he regiment of which Dr. Baird was regimental surgeon was dissolved, and he was discharged from service (reduced) on the 29th of March, 1781. He thereupon became entitled to the half-pay of a captain for life, under the provisions of the resolution of Congress of the 17th of January, 1781. It is alleged he made immediate and frequent applications, from time to time, to the proper officers of the government, as the pay to which he was entitled became due; but, for some cause which does not certainly appear, was refused-probably owing to the fact that the government had no money to pay.
Thus stood Dr. Baird's claim on the 23d of March, 1783, when Congress passed a resolution providing that the officers and others entitled to half-pay for life, “shall be entitled to receive, at the end of the war, their five years' full-pay, in lieu of half pay for life, in money, (that is, specie,) or in securities on interest, as Congress should find most convenient.'
It appears that Congress, in all cases, preferred issuing certificates on interest.
It is alleged Dr. Baird applied for the benefit of this commutation law, but was refused. After long-continued efforts to obtain pay
. ment, but without success, he presented his petition to Congress on the 28th of January, 1794, asking for relief. His application continued pending before Congress two or three years without any action on it, when he finally became wearied and disheartened with delay, and withdrew it. He died some years afterwards-in 1805, as allegedleaving several children in their minority. When Thomas H. Baird, his eldest son, became of age, he was immediately appointed administrator of his estate, to wit, in 1818; and on the 13th of February of that year presented his petition to Congress praying for relief. It was pending from that time until the 3d of March, 1835, when the committee to which it had been referred reported that “ Dr. Absalom Baird was entitled to the benefit of the provision of the resolution of the 17th of January, 1781, extending the grant of half-pay for life to the officers of the hospital department and medical staff, No further action was had at that session ; but on the 23d of June, 1836, an act was passed granting five years' full pay as commutation, under the resolution of 1783, but without interest.
On the 12th of December, 1837, his heirs again presented their petition to Congress praying for further relief. Under this petition, a bill for their relief was reported on the 6th of March, 1838, which was twice tead, and referred to the Committee of the Whole House, but was never afterwards considered.
Inasmuch as Congress, by the act of June 23, 1836, allowed five years' full pay as commutation, &c., disregarding the claim for half-pay which had accrued before the passage of the resolution of March 23, 1783, the committee will not now consider of the claim for half-pay. The question to which they have directed their attention is, as to whether interest should have been allowed on the five years' full pay, as computation, from the end of the war, the time when it was due.
The government had not the means to pay her officers their fiveyears' full pay at the end of the war; or, at all events, she did not pay them, but preferred to issue to those who applied, and whose claims were allowed, certificates bearing interest. It is, therefore, not to be questioned that to all such she did pay interest, as well as the principal, and this, in most instances, without the necessity of an application to Congress.
But there was a class of cases in reference to which application was made to Congress, the necessity for which, at least on claims for commutation, probably arose from the fact that the claimants had failed to apply in due time and obtain their certificates bearing interest. These applications were numerous from 1792 till 1834; and between those periods interest was uniformly allowed by Congress, or, at least, it was allowed in very many cases. The public records show, between those periods, as many as one thousand seven hundred and fifty-four cases in which interest was allowed, and quite a large number of them were for commutation pay.
The act of June 23, 1836, recognises the indebtedness of the government to Doctor Baird in the sum of $2,400. When did this indebtedness occur, and when was it payable? Certainly at the end of the war, in April, 1783 ; and it was for a sum certain. If Doctor Baird had then received his certificate, he would unquestionably have been paid interest upon it. That he did not receive it was not his fault. He made early application to the proper accounting officers,
but was refused. He applied to Congress in 1794, and he, and his heirs since his death, have been, for almost the entire period since, urging Congress to provide for his payment.
It appears, then, there has been no laches on his part; and the payment of interest will be but in accordance with the uniform usage of the government, in similar cases, for a period of more than fifty years. It is also believed to be a well-established rule, that a creditor of the government for a sum certain is entitled to interest when laches is not imputable to him, and payment has been withheld.
The committee, therefore, believe interest on the $2,400, allowed and paid to the heirs of Doctor Baird, should have been paid from the end of the war till the passage of the act for their relief on the 23d of June, 1836, which amounts to $7,656, and which, added to the amount paid, makes the sum of $10,056. But $2,400 being then paid, left the $7,656 still due. Interest on this sum till the present time makes the sum of $16,230, which is believed to be the amount to which the heirs are now entitled, and for which sum the committee report a bill, and recommend its passage.