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OFFICE OF PAYMASTER-GENERAL, U. S. A.,
Washington, D. C., October 10, 1878. SIR: I have the honor to submit my annual report of the transactions of the Pay Department of the Army for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1878.
I append tabular statements in detail, showing the fiscal operations of the department for that year, concisely stated, as follows:
RECEIPTS AND DISBURSEMENTS DURING THE FISCAL YEAR ENDING JUNE 30, 1878.
Balance in hands of paymasters July 1, 1877
$1,792, 317 27 Amount received from Treasury.
11, 706, 386 00 Amount of soldiers' deposits received.
346, 243 94 Amount of paymasters' collections
395, 999 80 Total to be accounted for
14, 240, 947 01 Accounted for as follows: Disbursements: To Regular Army
$11, 121, 399 77 To Military Academy
196, 092 04 To volunteers on Treasury certificates.
258,411 97 Total disbursements
11, 575, 903 78 Surplus funds deposited in Treasury
739, 703 65 Paymasters' collections deposited in Treasury
395, 999 80 Balance in hands of paymasters June 30, 1878, to be accounted for in next report
1,529, 339 78 Total accounted for......
14, 240, 947 01 No action having yet been taken in reference to the second section of the act of July 24, 1876, concerning "free roads,” I have again to recommend legislation to rescind the paragraph which forbids payment of mileage for travel “on any railroad on which the troops of the United States are entitled to be transported free of charge."
I have before, in my annual reports, dwelt upon the onerous working of such a restriction. I will add one example not before alluded to. An officer, to avail himself of the privilege of free transportation over any such road, must obtain transportation orders in advance from the Quartermaster's Department. This could be used if the journey was only over that particular road. But in buying in advance through tickets over long routes, the railroad offices will allow nothing for such transportation orders. Thus an officer traveling without troops, under orders, receives no mileage for travel over "free roads," without having it in his power to enforce the policy toward these roads which Congress had in view.
Legislation is necessary in other respects (as stated in Senate Report No. 463) to execute the decision of the Supreme Court of October, 1876. Thus far the opinion of the Second Comptroller of February 7, 1877, accompanying my last annual report, has prevented any payment of mileage over roads which said decision, in effect, declared not to be “free roads."
Notwithstanding the failure thus far to obtain favorable action in committee on the annuity scheme, I must again recommend said project to candid and favorable consideration. In one branch of Congress it has as yet received little or no attention. If only a wise economy is to be looked to, legislation can well provide a mode in which officers, by their own actions, might provide for the casualties of the service, leaving often for a long period moneys in large amounts in the hands of the government. The scheme would diminish the amount now to be appropriated and disbursed for the commissioned officers, the burden of repay. ment falling mainly on a future generation.*
The ninth section of the act of June 18, 1878, has devolved upon the Pay Department a new duty, the payment of commutation of quarters to officers entitled to the same, at a rate not exceeding ten dollars per
This rate is well known to be inadequate, and much below the actual cost of the same in those cities where officers without troops are compelled to be stationed. Prior to the passage of this act, under paragraph 1080 of Regulations, quarters were “commuted at a rate fixed by the Secretary of War.” At different dates and at different places the rates might vary. But always, in all the old Regulations (see especially in those of 1825 and 1835), the purpose was inanifest—to reimburse the actual reasonable market cost of such quarters.
In answer to the request of Jime 27, 1878, of the Hon. A. E. Burnside, chairman of the Joint Committee of both Houses of Congress on Reorganization, &c., I sent him a draught of a bill containing one provision which I quote below. The basis enjoined was for a force of twenty-five thousand men.
That in establishing the number of enlisted men in the Army at twenty-five thousand, the enlisted men in the companies of cavalry, artillery, and infantry shall be equalized, as nearly as practicable, on or before or at as early a date as the public service will permit.
But the President of the United States is authorized, in his discretion, when war or Indian hostilities shall render it necessary, to increase to one hundred the number of enlisted men in each company of any portion of the Army; but said increase shall be temporary, and as soon as possible the force shall be reduced to its former number: Provided, That it shall be the duty of the President to communicate to Congress, at the earliest opportunity, by special message, the reasons for such increase, and for any excess beyond said number of twenty-five thousand men.
The principal point to which I will call attention is the economy of this proposed equalization. General Marey, in his letter (page 45 of House Mis. Doc. No. 56, of 1878), says that it would result in an annual saving of $3,000,000. By careful statistics it appears that a cavalry soldier costs twice as much as an infantry soldier. As to the propriety of this measure, I would refer not only to this letter of General Marcy, but also to the testimony of Lieut. Col. Edmund Rice, Fifth Infantry, on page 248 of the same document.
But the President should have a power of expanding, on emergencies, the number of each company of infantry or cavalry to one hundred men. This would be an eco nomical measure, by utilizing the present number of commissioned officers, and saving the necessity of transporting troops
* For full information on the project of an annuity scheme, I must refer to my annual report of October, 1877, and its appendix.
to such great distances. Regiments now are often shuttlecocks, sent at great expense to and fro over long distances, because no such power exists of temporary expansion of organizations already near the seat of hostilities. It seems but a small and safe discretion with which to arm the Executive; but Congress may impose, by express legislation, the duty of reporting promptly, by special message, the circumstances rendering necessary any excess beyond a certain maximum.
I have also recommended that regimental adjutants and quartermasters shall no longer be extra lieutenants, but assigned to vacancies in their regiments as they may occur in their respective grades. This would eventually reduce by eighty the number of subalterns in the Army, and would cause a reduction of expenses, per annum, of about $121,700.
I again recommend that the grades of company quartermaster-sergeant, artificer, and wagoner be abolished, as they are not entitled to the benefits of pay in the act of May 15, 1872.
Paymasters' clerks should bé, by law, made subject to the rules and articles of war, and should also be entitled to receive an allowance of fuel and quarters.
Statute law has (by the act of March 3, 1863) provided that an officer shall forfeit all pay and allowances when absent without leave, “in addition to the penalties prescribed by law or a court-martial.” Though regulations have always imposed such a forfeiture for enlisted men, no express statute to that effect has been enacted. Certain embarrassing interpretations of the laws in such cases render it desirable that such a rule should, by law, be extended to the enlisted men. The decision of the Supreme Court in the Kelly case (vol. 15, page 34 of Wallace's Reports) also renders it desirable that the rule, heretofore made by the Second Comptroller, that a deserter shall always forfeit any bounty by the act of desertion, shall be a matter of express legislation.
Two House documents (Report No. 354, of March 9, 1878, and Mis. Doc. No. 56, of March 21, 1878) give renewed evidence of the natural desire of the line of the Army that every opportunity of promotion or advancement to higher grades should be accorded to them. I recommend that legislation require that vacancies occurring in the Pay Department shall be filled by appointment from the captains of the line, or from those who have served as additional paymasters. Officers who have served with troops, and have become familiar with the details of the service, are (all other considerations being equal) better prepared for the duties of the Pay Department than any other persons can be.
As a matter of record, this report should refer to two important general orders issued since I rendered my last annual report; one, General Orders No. 119, of 1877, concerning stoppage circulars, &c.; the other, General Orders No. 53, of 1878. The former sets forth, in orders, a method adopted since 1872, by authority of the War Department. The necessity, under the act of July 12, 1870, of keeping appropriations distinct, in great measure led to it. It has served to render more prompt and systematic the notice of disallowances and stoppages, and of their removal. It has been my aim and wish, in executing it, to give ample time and opportunity to every officer to render the proper explanations, which in a large share of the cases have led to their removal. This monthly stoppage circular, alphabetically arranged, has been a convenience to the body of the Army, as well as to each paymaster. It has enabled the latter, and any officer concerned, to see at a momentary glance his status on the points in question.