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Fourth. to remove all military restrictions upon trade and commerce, so far as might be consistent with the public safety.
These measures have been carried into effect from time to time, as the exigencies of the service would admit. It will be seen from the report of the Adjutant-General that troops to the number of 800,963 have already been mustered, paid off, and disbanded. Further reduction is contemplated. Upon the discharge of troops the services of a great number of staff, field, and general officers were no longer required. Of these some have resigned, and others were honorably mustered out. No doubt in many instances it has been painful for gallant and accomplished officers to leave that service to which they have been accustomed, and where they have won Honorable distinction. But it is to the credit of the volunteer service that they have recognized the obligation of the Government to reduce the military establishment with the occasion that called it into existence, and that their own wishes or interest have not been importunately urged against the necessities of the service.
The disposition of the Veteran Reserve Corps presented some considerations of peculiar nature. It was the inclination of the Department to retain it in service until the meeting of Congress. But inquiry showed that a very small per cent. of enlisted men were content to remain in service. All who desired have therefore been discharged, and supernumery officers mustered out.
Recruiting to fill the regular regiments has continued. Several thousand applications for commissions in the regular service are on file. These commissions, hitherto, have been conferred only be promotion from the ranks. But to secure the requisite number of competent officers a broad has been appointed to examine applicants and determine their relative merit. From the list selected by the Broad, and in the order of merit, appointments are to be made. Two years" actual service in the war is indispensable for appointment.
The establishment of a well organized militia system is one of the most important subjects that will demand the attention of Congress. This subject has already received careful consideration, and it is believed that after conference with the appropriate committees a practical system may be agreed upoent of homes, and some provision for the aid and relief of wounded and disabled soldiers, is also a subject that will commend itself strongly to every patriotic heart. Whether this duty, which the country owes to patriots who have suffered in the national defense can best performed by the National Government or administered by the respective State authorities, and whether relief can best be afforded by an increase of pension, or by establishing homes, are points, on which opinions differ, and which can only be settled by the wisdom of Congress.
The Board of Visitors to the Military Academy at West Point, in June last, made an reorganization report, which is herewith submitted.* They recommend a reorganization, and a number of measures which, in their opinion, will enhance the benefits of that national institution. To these the attention of Congress is respectfully invited, with the recommendation that the number of cadets be increased, as recommended, and that the superintendence of the institution be no longer confined to the Engineer Bureau. It is believed that the Military Academy is at present well conducted, and that their responsible
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