« PreviousContinue »
force called into being, there will always be confusion, waste, delay, and suffering, because untrained quartermasters and commissaries of subsistence can not properly perform their duties. If the war lasts long enough they will learn in time, but at a frightful cost. There are thousands of young men in the country engaged in various kinds of civil business which make them thoroughly familiar with the subject-matter of quartermasters' and commissaries' duties, and who, with a little timely instruction and practice, could learn to apply their business knowledge in military affairs so as to be useful quartermasters and commissaries whenever called into the volunteer service.
It is hoped that, if the gentlemen to whom instruction is thus offered avail themselves of the opportunity in considerable numbers, laws may be enacted under which their proved fitness for volunteer commissions will carry a right to receive commissions whenever a volunteer force is called out, and that a selection upon the ground of ascertained competency may thus take the place of the necessarily indiscriminate appointment of volunteer officers concerning whose fitness the appointing power can not possibly be informed.
The Government possesses in Forts Leavenworth and Riley, Kans., two fine reservations of about 7,000 and 20,000 acres, respectively, and with large plants in the shape of barracks, quarters, stables, and other buildings.
The officers' school for cavalry and infantry was located at Fort Leavenworth by General Sherman, after mature consideration of the advantages afforded by that site. In a similar way the cavalry and field-artillery school at Fort Riley was recommended by General Sheridan, whose ideas were enacted into law by Congress. Every effort is being made to place these two establishments upon a proper footing to carry out the scheme of instruction which existed prior to the war with Spain, and to carry forward the designs of those great soldiers to meet the increased needs of the Army as organized under the act of February 2, 1901. The country is extremely fortunate in having retained these splendid reservations, which have in the past and will to a greater extent in the future serve a most useful purpose in the thorough and practical education of the officers of the Army.
The Artillery School at Fort Monroe has long struggled in comparative poverty, with insufficient apparatus, located in an old ordnance shop. It should be properly supplied and housed. The engineers, having given up their Willets Point school pursuant to
the act of February 2, 1901, must build up from the foundation at Washington Barracks, as must the War College. The admirable plans presented by the Chief of Engineers covering both institutions are commended to the attention of Congress.
The creation of the War College Board, and the duties which will be imposed upon it, as indicated in my report for 1899, is probably as near an approach to the establishment of a general staff as is practicable under existing law. Consideration of the amount of work which that board ought to do, however, in the field of education alone, leads to the conclusion that it can not adequately perform all the duties of a general staff, and that the whole subject should be treated by Congress in a broader way.
No one can doubt that the general and field officers of our Army have been too exclusively occupied in details of administration, with inadequate opportunity and provision for the study of great questions, the consideration and formation of plans, comprehensive forethought against future contingencies, and coordination of the various branches of the service with a view to harmonious action. A body of competent military experts should be charged with these matters of the highest importance, and to that end I strongly urge the establishment by law of a general staff, of which the War College Board shall form a part.
I am satisfied that the division of the supply departments into separate bodies acting independently of each other, and each responsible only to a civilian Secretary of War, is a bad arrangement, resulting often in confusion, in conflict, in unnecessary expenditure of money, in increase of paper work, and making it difficult to fix responsibility. The Quartermaster's, Commissary, and Pay departments should be consolidated under such provisions regarding the present permanent officers in those departments as shall secure them against injustice.
MILITIA AND VOLUNTEERS.
The present provisions of law relating to the militia, and to the raising of volunteer forces, are quite imperfect and unsatisfactory. The militia law stands to-day practically as it was enacted in 1792, and is practically obsolete. It is verr desirable that Congress should now
exercise the power conferred upon it by the Constitution to provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia. The organization and armament of the national guards of the several States, which are treated as militia in the appropriations made by Congress, should be made the same as those provided by Congress for the regular and volunteer forces. The relations of the national-guard organizations to the national forces, and the obligations and duties of those organizations in time of war, should be clearly defined, so that the confusion and distress regarding their action which accompanied the outbreak of the war with Spain may not again occur.
The reliance of the country for the large forces necessary in modern warfare must necessarily be chiefly upon volunteers. The method and procedure of raising volunteer forces should be prescribed in advance, so that instead of waiting to devise plans for a volunteer army until the excitement and haste of impending war makes perfection of design difficult and satisfactory execution impossible, Congress will have but to direct the execution of a well-understood plan by officers, each one of whom has long been familiar with the part he is to play. It is desirable that any plans adopted should provide for utilizing, in the earlier volunteer organizations called out, the training of those citizens who shall have served already in the Regular and Volunteer forces. If the earlier volunteer organizations can be constituted of these trained men, much valuable time and expense can be saved, and many dangers may be averted during the period while the ordinary volunteers are receiving the necessary training. Provision should also be made for the selection in advance of the officers of any volunteer force which may be raised. Careful selection is impossible at the outbreak of a war. It is entirely practicable in time of peace.
I recommend that the President be authorized to convene boards of officers (including the general service and staff college board) for the examination of officers of the national guard, and other citizens who may apply to be examined, as to their qualifications to hold volunteer commissions; that the persons passing such examinations shall receive certificates, stating the office for wbich they are found to be qualified, and upon the calling out of a volunteer force shall be entitled to receive commissions for such offices.
I recommend that the War Department be authorized to arm the National Guard with the present service small arms used by the
Regular Army, Navy, and Marine Corps; that the National Guard of the several States be treated as a first reserve, to be called into the service of the United States to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrections, and repel invasions, the term of service under any call to be limited to nine months; that the President be authorized, on the request of the governor of any State, to detail officers of the Regular Army for instruction, staff, and inspection duties with the National Guard of such State; that the War Department be authorized to furnish transportation, rations, and tentage to officers and men of National Guard organizations, who shall take part with the forces of the Regular Army in annual encampment and maneuvers at national military camps; that the Department be authorized to allow travel pay, commutation of rations and quarters, or commutation of quarters, to officers of the National Guard attending and regularly taking part in the courses of instruction at the general service and staff college at Fort Leavenworth. Both of these provisions should be within reasonable limits, proportional to the numbers of National Guard organizations in the several States.
I recommend that the President be now empowered to organize the volunteer forces whenever called out, in the manner provided for by the act of March 2, 1899, for the organization of the volunteer force which has recently returned from the Philippines, with such modifications as shall be necessary to give effect to the views above expressed.
The Signal Corps has done a great amount of work during the year with its accustomed energy and efficiency. The telegraph system of Porto Rico was transferred to the civil authorities on the 1st of February, 1901. The corps has operated during the year a telegraph system in Cuba of 3,418 miles, most of which it had built or rebuilt. It has been busily engaged in training Cubans in the telegraph offices, so that they may be prepared to operate the system upon our retirement. It has continued the construction of the Alaskan telegraph system. Great advance has been made toward perfecting the system of communication in the Philippines, extending through more than 1,000 miles from north to south, the lines amounting on the 1st of July, 1901, to 4,851 miles, an increase during the fiscal year of 2,054 miles. The military cable system of the Philippines now covers 749
miles, connecting Manila over our own lines with the islands of Mindoro, Marinduque, Masbate, Samar, Leyte, Cebu, Negros, Mindanao, Jolo, Siasi, and Panay.
The Chief of the Signal Corps again urges attention to the great importance of an American trans-Pacific cable. The requirements for the use of such a cable by our own Government in Hawaii and in the Philippine Islands are so great that either it should be constructed and owned by the Government, or if constructed by a private corporation the landing rights should be granted upon such conditions that the owners shall always remain, in fact, an American corporation, and shall be subject to such control and regulation by Congress as will insure Government control when necessary, and commercial freedom in the use of the cable at all times.
CIVIL WAR RECORDS.
The great work of compiling and publishing the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies in the War of the Rebellion, which was commenced under Secretary Stanton, and the first volume of which was published just twenty years ago, has been completed during the past year by the preparation and publication of the General Index. The completed work contains 128 books of 138,579 pages and 1,006 maps and sketches. The total cost of the work has been $2,858,514.67, not including the pay of the army officers detailed from time to time for duty in connection with the work. It is believed that patient and thorough research and care and accuracy have characterized the work, and that its value, not merely to the survivors of the great conflict, but to future generations, will more than justify the cost. The last fourteen volumes of the series have been produced since the 2d of March, 1899, when the present head of the Record and Pension Office, General Ainsworth, was appointed to that position. He is entitled to credit both for the executive force and ability with which he has brought the work to a conclusion and for the manner in which it has been done.
RETIREMENT OF CIVIL-WAR VETERANS. I beg to call attention to the discrimination which is now made against the veteran officers of the civil war remaining in the Army of