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with planning and constructing systems and works of fortification. And it is no more a reproach to say that they are not prepared for the duties of the corps of engineers, than to say that they are not pre pared to lay down the lines, to designate the proportions and details, and direct the construction of the hull, spars, rigging, and sails of a ship-of-war.
To transfer them, then, will be to put them in positions for which they are prepared neither by study nor practice. It would be placing them, moreover, above officers who do possess these qualifications, and whose zealous devotion and efficient service will, I must hope, secure them from such injustice. It will, moreover, be doing the great personal injustice, in several instances, of depressing officers of the highest merit-officers who have rendered most important services, and to whom all the promotion that our army grades could supply would be no more than just acknowledgment—below others who were junior graduates, and who certainly cannot compare with them as to qualification for the duties of the corps. To illustrate this last point, let me add, that it would entitle to the place of second major a transferred officer who was 19 in his class of twenty-three members, at the same time making seventh major of the officer of engineers who not only was at the head of the same class, but who is universally reckoned as one of the ablest men in the army. Again: the senior captain of engineers entered the army in 1819; the junior major of topographical engineers was his classmate, but graduated four files lower, and I could adduce many other cases that would work grievous injustice.
The union of the two corps, then, at this day, will, in my judgment, work a breach of faith to the officers of my corps, to whom the great stimulus to exertion, while at the Military Academy, was the assurance that if they could enter the corps, their relative position there should be determined by the class standing; while it will not facilitate, but positively impede, the discharge of their respective duties, and will work an amount of bitter feeling among officers who, fostered by a common alma mater, have heretofore entertained towards each other none but friendly regards, neither justified nor compensated by any advantage to the public interest.
But aside from these considerations, I desire to press upon the committee the urgent necessity for an increase of the corps of engineers by a different process—that, I mean, before mentioned, which is to be found in my annual report. The proposed addition, by the transfer of topographical officers, will not afford the needed relief, for the general reasons stated above; and because they would necessarily bring with them all their present duties, which, I have no doubt, occupy them fully. That corps now consists of forty members; and should thirty of these be transferred, on this latter number would fall all the duties of the forty, which, instead of affording relief, would obviously and very materially add to the present burden of the now overloaded corps.
Called upon to express my views, I could not do otherwise than state them freely when I saw impending over the corps of engineers 80 serious an infliction. In my desire not to extend these remarks beyond the point whither I might hope the patience of the committee would attend me, I have omitted several remarks that might have given weight to the general purpose of my argument. The main points are
1. That the proposed enlargement of the corps of engineers is necessary to the public service, should be entered upon without delay, and can be safely accomplished only by additions to the bottom of the corps of qualified graduates.
2. That the mode of enlargement by transferring into it a portion of the topographical corps, as proposed in the bill—or a portion of any other corps—would not afford the relief contemplated by the bill, but would augment the present excess of duty, would work detriment to the public service, injustice to the corps of engineers, and serious injury to individual officers.
Section 4. All that I have said respecting the transfer of topographical officers to the corps of engineers, applies with at least equal force to such a transfer of ordnance officers. I cannot suppose that this is intended; but the language of the section would authorize it, and should, therefore, be corrected.
My opinion has always been, that, under the present organization, there is too wide a separation of the ordnance from the artillery. If the details for ordnance duties shall generally be supplied by the artil-. lery, it is my opinion it will be better for both, as well as for the general military service.
Sections 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15. I have not studied these sections with the care and attention that would justify my occu-pying the time of the committee with remarks. Most of them, however, have my entire concurrence; and it is only the contemplated change in the mode of providing for staff duties, on which, before I can form decided opinions, I need better opportunities than I have yet had for examination. The routine of my duties has seldom brought me into situations for judging critically of the working of the present system. But on all such points, reliable information will no doubt be communicated by the high officers connected with the several staff departments.
The act authorizing the existing company of engineer soldiers, has recently been so construed as to deprive its members of the benefit of the per diem given by law to all soldiers when at constant labor for ten days or more. The effect of this is, that the engineer soldiers when at such work receive less pay than any other soldiers; in some cases less than half as much. The engineer soldiers are enlisted with the understanding and expectation that they are to receive higher pay than those of other arms. It is so provided by the law; and for the reason that none but superior men, men of athletic bodies, mechanics, and educated men, will answer the requirement of engineer duty. But now they lose this advantage whenever they have to be set to work. Thus, suppose a private of engineers and one of dragoons are employedtoge ther “as laborers or teamsters'' in California: the former will be paid at the rate of $13 per month, the latter at the rate of $22 50. If they work together as “mechanics,” the engineer will get $13, and the dragoon $27. I do not interpret the law in this way, I
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am sure nothing of the kind was intended; but to put the matter beyond cavil, I respectfully recommend the amendment of the bill by the following proviso, to be added in the third section, page 2, line 6, after the words “as now provided by law”:
Provided, That this company and the company authorized by the act of 15th May, 1846, be, and they are hereby, declared entitled to all the benefits and allowances provided by the acts of 2d March, 1819, and 4th August, 1854, (6th section) for soldiers employed at constant labor of not less than ten days; except when such labor is performed in the execution of their appropriate peculiar drills and tactical exercises as engineer soldiers. All of which is respectfully submitted.
JOS. G. TOTTEN. Brevet Brigadier General & Colonel of Engineers. Hon. CHARLES JAMES FAULKNER,
Chairman of the Committee on Military Affairs, H. R.
WASHINGTON CITY, January 23, 1855. SIR: We comply with the request of the committee, and submit our views of the bill reported in the House for the increase and better organization of the army, and for other purposes.”
The purposes of the bill seem to be, Ist, to increase the army; 2d, to reorganize it ; 3d, to increase the pay of officers; 4th to retire disabled officers.
We do not understand that there is difference of opinion, among military officers, in regard to the 1st, 3d, or 4th of these purposes, or the mode of effecting them. They seem to be measures of great propriety and necessity. We presume, therefore, that the object of the committee, in their present inquiry, is to know the opinions of officers on the organization which the bill proposes.
In this respect the bill is a modification of the bill reported in the Senate by General Shields, in accordance with the plan of organization recommended to Congress by the President and Secretary of War. The general principles of this plan, in what relates to the military staff of the army, as explained and enforced in the report of the Secretary, are, lst, that appointments on the staff shall be by selection from the officers of the army who are most fit to be selected by reason of their capacity, experience, and meritorious services; 2d, that these appointments as special commissions to perform special duties shall not confer military command distinct from those duties, and, therefore, that staff appointments shall not carry rank, but the officers serving on the staff shall take rank and command according to their commissions in the army; and 3d, that the President, as the chief executive authority of the government, shall have power to secure the efficiency of the military administration by removing an incapable staff officer, and returning him to the ordinary duties of his army commission. This plan of organization, in our judgment, rests on sound principles. It removes a prevailing cause of dissension and conflict of rank in regard to the exercise of military command by staff officers. With the present organization it seems to us very difficult to make a proper general rule to govern in this matter. We shall revert to this point in considering the subsequent clause of the bill which prescribes rules to regulate rank and command. In regard, however, to the proposed organization, we here state our opinion that a law organizing the army staff upon the principles propounded in the Secretary's report, and administered upon them, would be of advantage to the public service. But, as in all legislation which relies on executive discretion, the benefits of the law will depend on its administration. A continuing power of appointment and removal of staff officers may expose the military service to the influences which control appointments and the tenure of office in the civil service of the government.
The Senate bill is well framed in its details to effect the staff organization proposed by the Secretary of War. The House bill differs from it, in a material part, in the mode of providing officers for staff duties. For this purpose the House bill proposes four supernumerary captains to each regiment, or seventy-six in all, while all appointments on the staff eligible from the rank of captain, and above that rank, are only twenty-four. The supernumerary captains not appointed on the staff would have no proper employment or position in the army. We think that the Senate bill proposes the proper plan. It gives to companies of cavalry and infantry two lst lieutenants, as the artillery companies now have. This will afford officers enough for staff details, and all regimental officers not detailed on the staff will have their appropriate regimental service.
In the proposed organization the judge advocate is considered as part of the military staff. We suppose that office to belong rather to the civil staff. But this point is not of importance.
The other changes proposed in the army organization, relate to the artillery, the engineers, and the ordnance.
In regard to the artillery the bills differ. The Senate bill follows the Executive recommendation to reduce the artillery to near one-half its present strength, and convert the other half into infantry. The House bill leaves the artillery of the strength it now is. The report of the War Department states that a large part of the present artillery regiments will, in future, serve as infantry-as they are now serving. This fact seems to us proof that the present artillery organization is excessive. The organization of an army should conform to the wants of the service, and the actual and necessary employment of the troops.
Both bills propose, as recommended by the department, to increase the corps of engineers, and discontinue the separate organization of the corps of topographical engineers. These corps are now nearly of the same strength. Their military employments are of very different importance and magnitude. Of all nations, the United States have the most extensive maritime frontier to defend by fortifications. This work alone, the indispensable fortifications on the seacoast and inland frontiers, would employ actively a much larger corps of engineers than these bills propose. In regard to the military topographical duties of the other corps, these services are, as represented in the report of the War Department, only a part of the duties of engineers;
the The bills proposthe engineer we discover
and, for the reasons stated by the department, it does not seem to us necessary or expedient to retain the separate organization of the topographical corps. In this opinion we have reference only to the military duties of topographical engineers. The use of such a corps to the United States for civil works of survey or construction, is not a military question. The largest and most important of these works, the coast survey, is now under the direction of a civil officer.
The bills propose to transfer the officers of the corps of topographical engineers “to the engineer corps, or other corps, or regiments, as the President may see fit.” We discover no objection to this provision. In regard to their transfer to the engineer corps, it has been stated that the higher duties of that corps are of such magnitude and difficulty, that they demand a long course of special study and experience; implying, as they do, the competency to plan and construct fortifications of the first class, and to direct the operations of armies in the attack and defence of fortified places. We presume that there are officers of the topographical corps qualified for these high and difficult employments. We profess, however, not to be competent to judge of this question. But we observe that the bills seem to be cautiously drawn in this particular. They direct the additions to the engineer corps to be made “as the exigencies of the service may require ;” and the transfer of topographical engineers to be made into such corps as the President may see fit.
The change of organization of the ordnance department, which both bills propose, seems to us a proper measure. The reasons of it are stated in the report of the Secretary of War. The House bill, in section seven, peovides that majors of ordnance shall be appointed only from the artillery. We think the restriction injudicious. The Senate bill made engineers also eligible to these appointments, and we think it important to preserve that provision. The knowledge of an engineer will find useful application in the ordnance corps. That service in our army has had experience of the benefit of an appointment from the corps of engineers. In its other provisions the 7th section of the bill seems to us the proper and necessary law of military promotion, ordinarily by seniority, with express exception in case of disability or incompetency; but the heads of certain corps, and all general officers, as at present, by selection.
The rules to regulate rank and command in the 9th section are among the most important subjects of the bill. The defects of the existing law, in this part of our military regulations, are fully discussed in the report of the War Department, and it appears quite unnecessary to attempt any exposition of them here. With the existing organization there is difficulty in prescribing a rule to regulate the right of officers of the disbursing and supplying staff to exercise military command; whether to confer military command on officers whose special duties are distinct from command, and may have long separated them from the military service of troops, or in respect of the exercise of military command, to consider these branches of the military staff as a civil corps. This embarrassment, however, is obviated in the organization proposed in the bill; and, in connexion with this organization, the rules to regulate rank and command, of the Senate