« AnteriorContinua »
engineers, proposed in the 3d section of the bill. Their military duties are entirely similar, and should be conducted under the same general direction, as is well argued in the annual report of the Secretary of War.
The organization of the ordnance department, proposed in the 4th section of the bill, is that which, in its general features, I have always considered the best for our service, and I was accordingly opposed to that provision of the bill of 1838 by which lieutenants were attached permanently to the corps. The higher and important duties of the ordnance department demand continued study and reflection, aided by careful and laborious experiments, which require the attention of officers devoted to these investigations, and pursuing them through a long time, without danger of interruption by duties unconnected with them, or by transfer to posts where the necessary facilities do not exist, &c. Although I was one of the officers originally appointed in the ordnance corps, when it was reconstituted in 1832, I do not fear contradiction, or the imputation of improper motives, when I say that the very great improvements introduced into the armament and military supplies of the troops since that time have fully justified that measure, and shown the utility of a special corps of. officers for this service. But the inferior and routine duties of the ordnance department require nothing more than ordinary intelligence, care, and honesty, and the more important duties to which I have referred cannot generally employ a large number of officers. I consider it better, therefore, that the junior officers for this service should be taken from the regiments. The knowledge which regimental service would impart to them, with regard not only to military practice and administration, but with regard to the practical working and effects of arms and military equipments in the field, will be of great value in the performance of the special duties of the ordnance department; and the knowledge and experience in the construction and use of artillery, arms, and ammunition, which they may acquire in the performance of ordnance duties, will be of still greater value to them in the execution of their regimental duties; furnishing, in some measure—what the scattered condition of our troops now prevents their enjoying-the opportunity of practice which would be given by regimental or other schools of practice.
The only question in this connexion is as to the grade of the lowest permanent officers of ordnance. As their number is small and their duties alike, I think the proposition of having none lower than majors a good one. Officers appointed to these places will have had greater experience in command of troops, to qualify them for taking such command when it may fall to them, by virtue of the provisions of section 9.
The first lines of section 5 probably do not express what was intended, as they would have the effect of legislating out of office the general of engineers authorized by section three. If the wording of the corresponding section of the Senate bill be insufficient or objectionable, this section 5 may be made to read thus: “In addition to the number of brigadier generals now authorized by law, and the brigadier general of engineers, there shall be seven brigadier generals, one of the brigadier generals to be Adjutant General,” &c.
The provisions of this section simplify, in some degree, the organization of the army, by reducing the number of officers devoted permanently to special duties. It is certainly true that the usual, and especially the routine, duties of any department, will be more readily performed, like any other busineșs, by those long practised in the execution of them; but it appears to me that intelligence, a good professional education, and respectable business capacity, are sufficient, with moderate experience in details, for the performance of the administrative duties of the general staff, and that it is not necessary in this case to incur the inconvenience of complicating the system, and of separating a large number of officers entirely from service with troops.
Whilst there appears, therefore, to be no necessity for the organization of separate permanent corps for performing the duties of the several departments of the general staff, it is highly desirable to avoid the evils which are almost inseparable from this permanent organization. This is, I think, well accomplished by the arrangements proposed in section 5, which would not only offer all the present facilities of selecting competent officers for staff duties, but would afford the means of correcting errors of selection by replacing in the regiments officers who, whilst they may be well qualified for regimental duty, shall have been found deficient in administrative ability, or otherwise unsuited to their positions on the staff.
It may be said that the objections to special organization apply also to the corps of engineers, so far as relates to their succession to command. This is true to some extent; but their duties absolutely require training and constant practice, and the evil cannot be avoided in this case without incurring a greater one. All that can be done is to limit its extent as much as possible.
The provisions of sections 4, 5, and 6 are intimately connected with those of section 9, regulating rank and command; and the latter I consider among the most important sections of the bill, in promoting the harmony of the service, and preventing the scandalous and even hazardous quarrels (hazardous to the success of military operations) which have frequently occurred in our army.
Perhaps it may be said that these regulations for rank and command could be adopted without a reorganization of the army; but the consequence would be, that a young officer entering the ordnance corps at its foot, or appointed in the general staff, may attain the rank of major, lieutenant colonel, or colonel, without any experience or knowledge derived from active command of troops, and may by right of his rank be placed in a position to command a detachment, or even an army in the field. This would lead to practical inconveniences which ought to be avoided, if possible. The evil consequences of a wellestablished and indisputable rule on the subject of rank and command are too frequently felt in the service to require further remark, and it is of the greatest importance that some definite rule on this subject shall be adopted. The simple principle that an officer shall have the right to command all those of inferior rank who are on duty with him
appears to be obviously proper. Admitting this, care must be taken that an officer having this right shall have had opportunity to qualify himself for exercising it without prejudice to the public interests. Hence the staff must be composed of officers of some experience in the service of troops; or else it must form a civil corps, like the medical and pay departments, ineligible to military command.
The rules of promotion laid down in section 7 of the bill are, I think, good. Those relative to the selection of general officers and of the Chief Engineer are the same that now exist by law. It would be difficult, and perhaps dangerous in our army, to extend the rule of selection very far; and the exception to the right of promotion, in case of disability or incompetency, may be sufficient to guard the service from the inconvenience of intrusting high and important duties to an officer of known inability to perform them. I think it important that the right of appointing majors of ordnance from the engineers, as well as the artillery, should be preserved, as in the Senate bill. Some of the duties of the ordnance department are so closely connected with those of the engineers, that it will be of great benefit to the service of both departments to have some of the ordnance officers practically acquainted with the details of engineering.
There may be a doubt about the propriety of the limitation put in section 9) on the President's right of assigning a brevet officer to command a senior brevet. There are cases, for instance, when a lieutenant may have the brevet of major senior to that of an old captain and brevet major; and it would seem unjust to prevent the commanding officer from availing himself of the experience or ability of the latter by placing him in command of a detachment; whilst, on the other hand, the proposed limitation would not prevent him from placing the lieutenant in command over a full major or captain having no brevet. The rule respecting the right of officers of the medical and pay de partments to command is expressed in the Senate bill in the terms of the present law on the subject; the addition made to it in the House bill seems to be unnecessary and inexpedient.
The increase of pay proposed in section 11 is obvioụsly just and proper. The present rates of pay were established in 1806; and it is only necessary to compare the cost of the necessaries of life and the ordinary rates of wages at that period and this, to be convinced of the propriety, and indeed necessity, of an increase in the compensation of officers. The principle, besides, is fully recognised by Congress, in advancing the salaries of nearly all other government officers.
The part of the first proviso which allows full pay to officers absent from duty on account of disease contracted in the line of duty” is too vague in its application, and will be liable to abuse. The third proviso, allowing service rations to general officers, seems to me eminently just and proper. The commanding general of the army, after forty years' service as a major general, and the most distinguished services, receives rather less pay now, I believe, than he did in 1815.
The provisions of the remaining sections, relative to a retired list, are of the utmost importance to the vigorous administration of the military force, by enabling the officers who have been worn out by age or infirmity to give place honorably to younger men fitted for
active service. This measure recommends itself so strongly and unanimously to the army, that the committee can have no doubt of the opinions of officers in its favor.
In thus expressing freely my views on the proposed bill, I have considered the question only in its general bearing on the wants of the army and of the country.
I have not regarded at all the probable effect of these measures on the interests of individuals, because that consideration must be subordinate to the general good. But it appears to me that if the whole bill (with the alterations which I have suggested) should be adopted, there will be no difficulty in making a suitable arrangement of the present officers without injustice to any of them.
If conflicting views should prevent the committee from recommending the adoption of all the provisions of the bill, much good may be effected by obtaining the increase of force which the condition of the frontier demands; the retired list, which is indispensable for making the force effective; and the increase of pay, which is an act of sheer and tardy justice to the officers.
Major Ordnance Department. Hon. CHARLES J. FAULKNER,
Chairman of Committee on Military Affairs, H. R.
WASHINGTON, January 22, 1855. SIR: In compliance with a letter from the Secretary of War, of the 19th instant, I have inade a full and careful examination of the bill (H. R. 615) “ for the increase and better organization of the army, and for other purposes," and respectfully submit the following views relative thereto.
The general principles of the bill are, in my judgment, sound and well calculated to promote the efficiency of the whole army. Its provisions are calculated to prevent controversies, now so frequent, in regard to rank and command; to diffuse the knowledge of staff duties among the whole army; to attain greater efficiency in the performance of those duties by giving a wider field for the selection of staff officers, who would also have a knowledge, gained from the experience of previous service with troops, of their wants and the best mode of supplying them; to remove jealousy and produce harmony and good feeling between the staff and the line, and to infuse new vigor and life into the army by retiring officers, incapacitated from performing their duties, and advancing the capable and competent to their places; at the same time making a fair provision for those who have been worn out or disabled in service; accelerating promotion, and establishing a rate of compensation somewhat commensurate with the services rendered, the responsibilities incurred, and the hardships endured by those actively employed in the army.
But while the bill contains these sound principles, and promises these valuable results, some of its details are, in my opinion, objectionable; so much so as, if not corrected, to raise an amount of opposition to it sufficient to defeat its passage, and thus lose the many advantages it is intended to secure to the military service of the country. These objectionable details are susceptible of correction without abandoning any essential principle of the bill. The modifications which I would suggest for this end, consist in making the proposed reorganizations of the different branches of the military service gradual, instead of immediate, and in effecting them in such a manner as not to disturb existing relations, or do violence to what may be regarded as vested rights. I have noted these modifications on the printed bill, herewith enclosed, in sections 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7. I ask attention to them, and claim for the bill, as so modified, the following advantages over it in its original shape: It will displace no one, and will thus disarm in a great measure, if not entirely, the opposition to it as it now stands, which is not unlikely to cause its defeat. The disadvantages of the present organization of the general staff, the engineers and the ordnance, will become, every year, less and less, and in time (and not a long time either, with the help of the retired list) will entirely disappear. It will give each officer, after entering the army, an opportunity of learning practically, every branch of the military profession, and of showing for which of them he has the best qualifications and most aptitude; and will thus afford the best criterion for selections, when permanent appointments in any of the staff departments or corps are to be made. It will assure to every officer hereafter entering the army a period of service with troops, which will give him a practical military experience, invaluable in any branch of the service he may be subsequently called to act in. It is not with me an opinion, but a fixed conclusion, that it is a serious disadvantage to any graduate of the Military Academy to be entered, at the beginning of his army service, into one of the staff corps, without knowing his qualifications, taste, or aptitude for the peculiar duties of that corps. Class standing at West Point is by no means an infallible evidence of such qualification. The peculiar talent and aptitude, whether for active duties with troops in the field, or for the scientific or business pursuits of the staff, will be subsequently developed in the course of service, while the practical military knowledge acquired by service with troops in the first years of military life will never be forgotten, and never cease to tell advantageously in whatever branch of the army the officer may afterwards be placed. I would, therefore, have no lieutenants permanently attached to the staff, or to any staff corps; but would provide for the performance of duties therein, pertaining to subaltern Officers, by details from other corps of the army.
For these reasons I propose my amendments to the 2d, 3d, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th sections of the bill; remarking more particularly, in reference to the number of extra lieutenants, stated in the amendment to the 2d section, that it provides officers for details only as the wants of the service may require them, and that the greatest number authorized for the purpose, viz: seven for each regiment—133 in all—is but enough to make up for details, as follows:
Forty for engineer duty, instead of the same number of that grade provided by the 3d section of the bill, but omitted by my amendment;