Imatges de pàgina
PDF
EPUB

and this power as little as any. The grounds are small for apprehending mischief. The army, generally, will be glad of the change, and hope it may be made.

Question by Mr. Faulkner: Why do you propose to confine the details for ordnance officers to the artillery ?

Answer. At West Point the graduates who have the highest distinction are generally placed in the engineers, the next in the ordnance, the next in the topographical engineers, and the next in the artillery. None but high graduates are placed in the latter. The ordnance is a scientific corps, and so is the artillery, so that by confining details to the artillery you are sure to get a good ordnance officer. Let it not be understood, however, that all high graduates of the academy prefer the corps in the order mentioned. Some of the finest intellects of that school are now in the infantry—placed in it because they did not excel in particular branches of study-mathematics, mechanical philosophy, &c. One of my aid-de-camps, an infantry officer, was one of the best scholars of his day; but his forte was not the exact sciences.

Question by Mr. Faulkner: What is your opinion of the increase of brigadiers general, provided for by the bill?

Answer. I think they are needed. The considerations which have suggested an increase are these: We have five geographical military departments for the convenience of command, inspections, &c. The country on the Pacific, including Utah, is one; New Mexico the second ; Texas is the third; the country not embraced in those departments, and west of the Mississippi, is the fourth ; and all on this side of the Mississippi is the fifth. The idea is to have a brigadier general for each of those geographical departments; one for the Quartermaster's department, (which would, no doubt, be as at present;) to make the Adjutant General a brigadier general, his rank at present being that of colonel. It is very proper that he should be a brigadier general. The other two the War Department wishes to make inspectors general—not having any direct command of troops, but to make the tour of all the military posts once a year, which would be as much as they could do. They would observe defects, Fants, &c., and report promptly upon them. The bill provides, in addition to the foregoing, for a brigadier general of engineers. These brigadiers are highly necessary to the good of the service. It will be better executed with the increase. Two full regiments have always constituted a brigade in the regular service. With the proposed inerease, the army would consist of nine brigades and a half, besides the engineers. Taking into consideration the proposed distribution of the brigadiers, and supposing each to be constantly in health, the number would be rather below the wants of the service.

Question by Mr. Faulkner: What is your opinion as to the number of Assistant Adjutants General, as contained in the original bill submitted by the department?

Answer. 'I satisfied the Secretary of War that eight Assistant Adjutants General were actually necessary for the exigencies of the service, and he authorized me to suggest to the committee the substitution of eight instead of the seven in the original bill.

and lieutenants in the ordnance and topographical corps, which makes it necessary to transfer these officers to other regiments, which would make no increase of the personnel, but would merely change designations.

Question by Mr. Faulkner: What policy dictates the taking of these officers you have mentioned from the corps stated?

Answer. In the army list, under the head of Quartermaster's department twenty-eight captains, and under the head of Adjutant General's department eight captains, and in the Subsistence department eight other captains, are permanently designated as assistants. Many of these officers are peculiarly adapted for the

duties appertaining to their positions respectively; but a few not. Those unfitted for their present positions may be admirably adapted to other duties, whilst other officers belonging to regiments may be just the

persons, in point of peculiar adaptation, to fill staff positions. The bill, therefore, by destroying the permanency of such designations, gives a choice amongst the whole army for selections and interchanges according to the development of peculiar talents and accomplishments.

These changes of officers meet generally with the approbation of the army. There are many topographical engineers who would, under the bill, be transferred to the corps of engineers, and these, it is presumed, would be content; whilst there are captains and lieutenants of ordnance, as well as of topographical engineers, who would dislike very much a transfer to the artillery or infantry. Some would abhor it. I do not, however, particularly blame them for accidental preferences; but no reform can be effected without offending interests as well as prejudices. I do not admit that a transfer, in any case, could be called a sacrifice. The topographical engineers was, at first, an anomaly. There ought to be but the corps of engineers. The cause for creating the topographical corps was, we wanted additional officers for surveys, for river and harbor improvements, &c., &c., on which they have been employed with great benefit to the country. The engineers proper were then all employed in the construction of permanent fortifications. Now, the engineers proper, like the topographical engineers, are alike employed on these civil works. There is, then, no necessity for two corps. I do not think there is any particular hardship in transferring captains and lieutenants from one branch of the service into another, according to adaptation. All corps in the army are alike respectable. Juniors of the artillery may, among themselves, imagine that the artillery is more respectable than the infantry, for example; or the ordnance officers, that they are better than their brothers of the artillery, &c.; but seniors always parentally rebuke all disparagements of corps and arms of service. Hence we say all are alike useful, respectable, and honorable, and that there is no violation of honor or right in transfers called for by the good of the service. Some staff officers may be afraid they may be sent to distant and disagreeable posts; hence they dislike the contemplated reorganization. The power should nevertheless exist, to send any officer anywhere required by the good of the service. We should have the power of selecting the men who are best qualified for particular duties, from the whole army. All power, no doubt, is liable to abuse;

and this power as little as any. The grounds are small for apprehending mischief. The army, generally, will be glad of the change, and hope it may be made.

Question by Mr. Faulkner: Why do you propose to confine the details for ordnance officers to the artillery ?

Answer. At West Point the graduates who have the highest distinction are generally placed in the engineers, the next in the ordnance, the next in the topographical engineers, and the next in the artillery. None but high graduates are placed in the latter. The ordnance is a scientific corps, and so is the artillery, so that by confining details to the artillery you are sure to get a good ordnance officer

. Let it not be understood, however, that all high graduates of the academy prefer the corps in the order mentioned. Some of the finest intellects of that school are now in the infantry-placed in it because they did not excel in particular branches of study-mathematics, mechanical philosophy, &c. One of my aid-de-camps, an infantry officer, was one of the best scholars of his day; but his forte was not the exact sciences.

Question by Mr. Faulkner: What is your opinion of the increase of brigadiers general, provided for by the bill?

Answer. I think they are needed. The considerations which have suggested an increase are these: We have five geographical military departments for the convenience of command, inspections, &c. The country on the Pacific, including Utah, is one; New Mexico the second ; Texas is the third; the country not embraced in those departments, and west of the Mississippi,

is the fourth ; and all on this side of the Mississippi is the fifth. The idea is to have a brigadier general for each of those geographical departments; one for the Quartermaster's department, (which would, no doubt, be as at present;) to make the Adjutant General a brigadier general, his rank at present being that of colonel. It is very proper that he should be a brigadier general. The other two the War Department wishes to make inspectors general-not having any direct command of troops, but to make the tour of all the military posts once a year, which would be as much as they could do. They would observe defects, vants, &c., and report promptly upon them. The bill provides, in addition to the foregoing, for a brigadier general of engineers. These brigadiers are highly necessary to the good of the service. It will be better executed with the increase. Two full regiments have always constituted a brigade in the regular service. With the proposed insrcase, the army would consist of nine brigades and a half, besides the engineers. "Taking into consideration the proposed distribution of the brigadiers, and supposing each to be constantly in health, the number would be rather below the wants of the service.

Question by Mr. Faulkner: What is your opinion as to the number of Assistant Adjutants General, as contained in the original bill submitted by the department? Answer. I satisfied the Secretary of War that eight Assistant Adjutants General were actually necessary for the exigencies of the service, and he authorized me to suggest to the committee the substitation of eight instead of the seven in the original bill.

Mr. Faulkner: General Scott, state to the committee any other changes which occur to you as proper in the bill.

General Scott: The duty of supplying clothing to the troops has for some twelve years been confided to the Quartermaster's department of the staff; it was formerly in the hands of a Commissary General of Purchases. It is proposed to transfer it to the commissariat, (Subsistence department,) to relieve the Quartermaster General, whose department is overburdened with that superadded duty; whereas the Commissariat of Subsistence, with a little aid from the line, would be fully competent to execute the extra duty.

There is a suggested change in the bill as originally submitted, that the words “in cases not provided for in the 98th article of war” be inserted in the 10th section, after the words, "the following rules shall regulate the command and rank officer."

[Here follows 98th article of war.] This article was adopted in 1775—before the Declaration of Independence—and is a necessary part of the code regulating rank. I also suggested an addition to the end of the rule of rank prescribed in the bill to prevent a junior officer, by virtue of his brevet, being placed, by assignment of the President, above his senior by brevet. Nature does not more abhor a vacuum, than senior officers abhor being placed under the command of a junior.

Question by Mr. Faulkner: State your opinion of the importance of brevet appointments in the army.

Answer. I have always been looked upon in the army as a stickler for brevet rank. I am not a brevet officer at this time; I have been. I am persuaded that it gives to government the means of stimulating its officers to the highest deeds of valor and other distinguished conduct.

In a republican government there can be but few rewards for great services. Of these, the system of brevets may be regarded as the principal. It is wonderful how the hope of winning a brevet stirs the souls of young officers, and, indeed, of officers not so young. On the field, when about to engage the enemy, it is common to hear officers, in the act of drawing swords, exclaim, “Here goes for a brevet to-day.”

Under judicious legislation, such as this bill proposes, the rule governing brevet rank is so simplified that heart-burnings could scarcely ever be created by bestowing that reward on officers specially distinguishing themselves.

In commenting upon a section of the bill relative to service rations, General Scott said:

I had nothing to do with the provision in the bill relative to service rations. The Secretary of War inserted that without consultation with me. In 1839, by the permission of the Secretary, I prepared an amendment for the consideration of the Military Committee of the House, providing for an additional ration for every five years' service as a service ration, which amendment I handed to a member of that committee, who informed me that the committee had agreed to report it, but that the chairman would probably in the House) speak against and kill it.

upon it.

You, sir, (addressing Colonel Benton,) were the occupant then of s position which I believe you held for twenty years——that of chairman of the Military Committee of the Senate—and my amendment met with your approval.

When the friend in the House committee found that his chairman (a great economist) would oppose the amendment in the House, he induced the committee to send for me to meet them, and to overcome the objection of the chairman. In discussing the proposition with him, he very gruffly demanded of me, “Have you not pay enough?” I replied, “Yes; strike the general officers out;" and it was done. Thus it is that all officers have since received the service ration except general officers.

The reason of the Secretary of War for placing in this bill generals on the same footing with other officers in respect to service rations, is this: If the bill should pass, general officers will be as liable as others to be placed on the retired list, and without service rations. A major general would receive, in the whole, less money than a colonel on the same list.

Mr. Faulkner called the attention of General Scott to that provision of the bill which related to the suspension of an officer's rations when absent from his post over a certain time, and requested his opinion

Remarks of General Scott in reply: It is difficult sometimes to get officers back to their regiments as promptly as is wished. Indeed, this difficulty, some years since, necessitated an order similar to the provision in the bill, from which the idea is borrowed. The bill gives an officer ample time, according to distance, to return to his duties. If his leave exceeds that time, it seems reasonable that his rations (not pay) should be stopped.

Question by Mr. Faulkner: State your opinion as to the expediency of a retired list for the army.

Answer. I think highly of it. We have some forty-odd officers mindered, by diseases, wounds, or premature old age, unfit for active duty. There are some who are from five to seventeen years my seniors : some of high rank, three as low as captain, and perhaps two as low as lieutenant. They are, nearly all, officers who have served most honorably, and continue to be gentlemen of high moral worth; but they impede promotions and the activity and efficiency of the service. Their retirement would greatly improve the army.

No injustice can be done any one, as there are two checks in the way. In the first place, the board for the examination of cases for retirement is a check; and in the next the Senate, which has the confirmation of the successors to the retired officers. We have, then, a double security against injustice.

I consider the additional section, limiting the time for placing officers on the retired list to one year, as very proper. The necessity for a renewal of the power to retire officers would hardly arise more than once in every fifteen years. Indeed, it would take fifteen or twenty years to accumulate a sufficient number of infirm officers to make it necessary to invoke Congress to renew the power of retiring them.

« AnteriorContinua »