« AnteriorContinua »
mounted rifles to a regiment of cavalry, unless it be to preserve the names of the different arms in the form of legislation.
The entire law usually called the rules and articles of war, could be revised to advantage. A report of a revision was called for in 1832, but I am not aware that the report was made.
Section 9 repeals the 61st, 62d, and 63d articles of the law usually denominated the rules and articles of war. The 61st defines the power of “ brevets and former commissions."
This article (in the old law) appears to me clear, free from ambiguity, and easily understood. The only ambiguity is in the word “detachment;" which is, however, made clear by the regulations issued by President Jackson, revised and reissued by President Polk, and which, it is believed, are the governing regulations at this time. The chief trouble has arisen from claims for pay when exercising the brevet authority, and to decide when that pay could be drawn. This trouble could be removed by a simple expression of law, giving the pay, emoluments, and allowance of the brevet rank, to all officers when on brevet duty according to law, and in all cases of dispute the War Department to have power to decide the same.
Article 62 (old law) defines rights of command when different corps join or do duty together, “unless otherwise specially directed by the President of the United States, according to the nature of the case.”
The law appears to me very clear in this case, and not adapted to create confusion; and the power given to the President is adequate to remedy and to prevent any confusion.
Article 63 is the one giving some exemptions from command to engineers.
The remedies proposed do not appear to me to simplify the case.
Remedy 1st refers to Article 62. By this, staff officers (by old law) are excluded from such command; the remedy proposed does not exclude them; but I doubt if the remedy, in this single case, is desirable to the staff, or of advantage to the service.
The 2d remedy proposed destroys the brevet, to all intents and purposes, except on assignment by the President. The 63d is merely repealed; but the repeal will enable a commanding officer to order an engineer on any duty, and, in so doing, to take him from any work or existing duty.
Officers of the pay and medical departments cannot exercise command, except in his own department. This could always be done by seniority of commission. The confusion and difficulties now sought to be remedied, arise from having (within a few years) bestowed on officers of these departments military titles and military rank, totally unnecessary to their professional duties; but this error now makes the remedy proposed necessary.
Section 10 gives to officers and soldiers of this bill the benefit of the several pension laws, and makes them subject to the rules and articles of war: all, to my judgment, very proper and necessary.
Section 11 states the pay of different grades, in different arms of service. It would remove much discontent, rivalry, and jealousy, if the pay of all grades were the same for all arms of service; and,
under the liability of section 8, such a course has an appearance of justice.
A rigid equality in the pay of officers of the same grade can never be realized, because equality of condition, place, climate, and of necessary expenses consequent upon places, cannot be realized.
I do not know the officer who has been stationed at or near any of our large cities on the Atlantic, who has not experienced the fact that his pay and allowances do not support him. Officers on frontier stations have experienced a different result; therefore, whatever may be considered the comforts of Atlantic stations, they are more than compensated on the frontier by the avoiding of debt for the necessaries of life.
A proviso reduces the allowances of officers when most needed. It extends the service ration to general officers, which is considered both just and proper.
The retired list, section 12. No matter by what name this arrangement is, denominated, it is. in fact, a pension system for aged and disabled officers, and to facilitate promotions by the making of quasi vacancies.
The greater part of section 12 is employed in describing the mode of placing officers on this list. The mode can be resorted to on the application of the officer, and at the judgment of the President of the United States. It appears to me that both of these methods relating to the mode are exceptionable, and adapted to depress the officer; and on these accounts will receive a reluctant attention. It would, perhaps, be better to affix an age at which all officers shall be placed on that list; and in all cases in which an officer is not promoted under the provision for “disability and incompetency."
It also appears to me just, that in all cases in which an officer is placed on the retired list, he should be advanced one grade, and should receive the pay, &c., according to section 13, of that advanced grade.
Section 13 merely provides for the pay, &c., of the officer so retired, and for promotion in his place.
Section 14. "There seems to be no ground for objection to this section.
Section 15 merely provides for officers to be placed on the retired list during one year after the passage of this act.
It appears to me that this limitation defeats all the chief objects of a retired list. As age and its infirmities, disabilities, &c., will be in perpetual occurrence, it must be admitted that this list will be liable to diminution from deaths, therefore its perpetuity is not so offensive to economy.
It is, I think, matter of regret that questions of the increase of the army, and of the increase of its pay—so generally admitted as necessary-should be coupled in this bill with so many other questions of rather doubtful utility,
Beviewing the whole bill, I am disposed to think that the inerease of the army-the increase of pay under existing staff organizations will cost much less the year than the propositions of the bill.
There is an important principle, in military matters, for our coun
try, not, to my judgment, sufficiently cared for in the bill. This principle is, to make the army, in all its rights, privileges, means of support, as much as practicable the creation of law, and as little as practicable the creation of contingencies.
Under existing civilization, armies appear to be an essential component part of all governments, and no government, which pretends to an equality with the nations of the world, can do without them. Therefore, in a government like ours, true policy is to relieve so necessary an institution from unkind prejudices, and from jealousy; and I know of no mode so well adapted to produce such results as that of making our army as much as practicable dependent upon law, and as little as practicable upon contingencies.
Such a course will turn the feeling of the army to the law; will make it the creature of the law; and will relieve it, to a great extent, from the prejudices and the mistrust now extended towards it.
I think it is to be demonstrated that the present bill will be a much more costly arrangement than the proposed increase of numbers and pay, with existing staff organization.
I have not suggested remedies to the defects of the proposed bill, because under the impression that such a course was not expected. But, finding other officers under different impressions, I will respectfully suggest a few general considerations for a bill of this kind.
1st. Immediate necessities call for an increase of the numbers and pay of the army; therefore, a bill involving these considerations has a strong necessity in its favor.
2d. It would be idle to say that existing staff arrangements cannot be improved; but these are not of such pressing necessity. The staff arrangements which now exist are the results of much investigation, of many reports, and of long trial, and will be found to pervade in rights, duties, obligations, &c., &c., may laws (See Hetzel's edition of Cross's Military Laws.) Properly to modify and to improve existing staff arrangements will require time and a careful examination of existing laws.
3d. The retired-list matter is a new measure, hitherto unknown to our military system. It is, without doubt, a necessary and proper measure, but need not be made to embarrass the more necessary wants of No. 1, preceding.
The bill is silent in the regular organization of the higher ranks. According to our system, (copied from the systems of other nations,) nine brigadier generals call for not less than four major generals, and over the whole there should be one "commanding general.” There is an evident reluctance to giving to our army a rank higher than that of major general. But while we have such institutions, (institutions essential to all governments,) it is not, I think, offensive to propriety or to patriotism that such institutions should be adequately organized. On this account, the commission of "commanding gen:ral” is brought to consideration.
With me the question is very simple. Either we must cease to consider ourselves among the leading nations of the world, or we must meet the required concomitants of that consideration. Among
these concomitants is a regular army of some size; which being admitted, its proper organization is a mere consequence. Respectfully submitted:
J. J. ABERT,
Colonel Corps Topographical Engineers. Hon. CHARLES JAMES FAULKNER,
Chairman Military Committee, Ho. of Reps.
January 22, 1855. Sir: Agreeably to the request of the Committee on Military Affairs, of the 19th instant, I proceed to state, as briefly as possible, my views relative to the bill reported by the Committee on Military Affairs of House of Representatives, for the “increase and better organization of the army.'
In doing this, I shall consider the provisions of this bill in connexion with those of a similar bill reported by the Senate Committee on Military Affairs, which I have also before me.
The increase of force proposed in the first section of the bill is of too pressing and obvious necessity to require any comment; but the manner of effecting this increase which is proposed in the Senate bill, (first and second sections,) appears to me preferable to the other. Whoever has visited an artillery garrison, or seen a considerable body of our artillery in the field, must have remarked that the greater part of them are distinguished from infantry only by their uniform. Their habitual drill and service is that of infantry; and even at the artillery school of practice which existed for several years at Fort Monroe, infantry exercises occupied the principal share of attention. This anomaly results in great measure from the organization of the artillery. It is arranged in regiments like infantry, and the force is too great a proportion of the whole army to be spared from the active duties of frontier and other service; but as they cannot all serve there in their appropriate arm, they are employed as infantry, and hence the necessity of having them all instructed so as to take turns in this service. If the corps of artillery were reduced to a strength which could be spared from the duties above referred to, the officers and men might be confined to the practice of their own arm, and be constantly employed and exercised in the use of artillery, either field or garrison-a service requiring much greater and much more difficult instruction than that of foot troops. The corps of artillery would not then, in time of war, be subject to the mortifications which they experienced in the late war with Mexico, of seeing volunteer artillery serving a field battery, whilst the regular artillery marched with muskets.
The increase of officers proposed in the second section of the House bill appears to me ill arranged. In expressing the object of the appointment of supernumerary captains and lieutenants of artillery, infantry and cavalry, “to furnish details for staff duties," the proposition would seem to confine these details to those corps, at least by
implication. But there may be a great advantage and propriety, under some circumstances, in the selection of an engineer or ordnance officer for appointment on the staff. A greater objection appears to the addition of four supernumerary captains to each regiment. This would give seventy-six (76) supernumerary captains in the army to furnish details for staff duties, (besides the seventy-six lieutenants,) whilst all the staff officers required by the act to be taken from regiments or corps amount to only twenty-four, (24.). Supposing all those to be taken from the captains of regiments, (which would not be the case,) what will be the position of the remaining thirty-two captains having no companies? If the addition to provide for these details, or rather staff appointments, were made, as in the Senate bill, to the list of lieutenants, no such inconvenience would occur, as the lieutenants would be all attached to companies; and it is well known that at present there are rarely more than two officers present with a company on service. When captains are taken for staff duties, their separation from their companies would probably be of considerable duration, and the lieutenant succeeding to the command would have the same interest as a captain in the welfare of his company. The excellent act of 1799 “ for reorganizing the troops,” proposed that in such a case as the above, the officer next in grade to the one appointed on the staff should be actually promoted to the vacancy; but in case of the staff officer being replaced in his regiment, this arrangement would lead to the inconvenience of supernumerary majors, captains, &c.
The organization of companies in the 2d section of the House bill seems to me too indefinite; and, although I speak with great diffidence on this subject, I should doubt the necessity of increasing so much the number of non-commissioned officers for a company of not more than one hundred privates.
In arranging a new organization for the army, one of the great principles to be attended to, as much as possible, seems to me to be that of simplifying the administration of the army, and reducing that service to the fewest heads. This principle might undoubtedly be applied more extensively than in either of the bills under consideration, without embarrassment, and probably with benefit, to the public service. Why should services of a like kind be performed by different sets of officers? At the same post, or in the same market, why should one officer be employed to purchase flour and other provisions for men, and another to procure oats and other food for horses, with all the complication of a separate set of accounts and vouchers for each of these objects, when a few additional lines and columns in a voucher or an abstract would effect the purpose? In practice, at nearly all the military posts, these services, as regards receiving and issuing supplies to the troops, are actually performed by the same individual, although he is subject to a double accountability to two different heads of departments.
In the scientific and constructing departments of the army this subdivision of administration and of duties has also been carried too far, and it is under this impression that I approve of the consolidation of the services of the corps of topographical engineers with the corps of