1864 February 20: Army Officiers Not Entitled to Bounties, but Persons in Military Service May Be Able to Secure Homesteads, and Other War News
Following is the weekly summary of the war news from The Polk County Press of February 20, 1864.
The Provost Marshal General [James B. Fry] has decided that army officers are not credited as any part of a State’s quoto [sic: quota] or entitled to bounty. He says they do not enlist and cannot enlist, but serve by special commission with certain defined privileges or rank and compensation. Bounty is always considered to be a gratuity or special payment for enlisting, not for accepting commission.
Major General Breckinridge [John C. Breckinridge] is appointed to relieve Samuel Jones¹ in command of the rebel department of Southwest Virginia.
The Democratic State Convention of Ohio will be held on the 11th of March, when delegates to the Chicago Convention will be appointed.
The bill of Senator Wilson² to secure homesteads to persons in the military service of the United States, contemplates the purchase, in the name of the United States by the Secretary of the Interior, of all outlying real estate seized under the Confiscation act, and their free entry to the extent of eighty acres by the army soldier of two years’ service, white or black. Any building or improvements, or implements found on the land, may be taken at the apprised value, and the United States shall have a lien upon the land of payment for them.
Private information from Chattanooga is to the effect that several days ago, although there was a force at Dalton, the main body of the rebel army was at Rome, Georgia, under Gen. Johnston [Joseph E. Johnston].
H. D. Stoner, of Maine, a general contractor for the Navy Department, has been convicted by the court martial of bribing a clerk in the Charleston Navy Yard, and other charges of a similar nature, and sentenced to one years’ imprisonment.
The alarm at Newburn has subsided, and our losses in material, it is said, are scarcely worth mentioning.
Mr. Field,³ the representative from Louisiana, has been excluded from his seat by a vote of the House.
The late call for troops was undoubtedly based upon information, received in Washington that the rebel armies now embrace more men than at any time since the commencement of the war.
The United States Sanitary Commission are to hold a Grand Fair at Brooklyn, New York, commencing on February 22d. They have issued circulars asking for specimens of the products of each state, all of which are to have separate apartments.
The Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio, railroad gives $10,000 for the aid of soldiers’ families. A corporation with both soul and pocket.
A dispatch from Washington says an order will be issued raising cavalry and infantry regiments to 2,400 men by consolidation. This will throw out a host of Colonels and Majors.
A Memphis correspondent believes Mobile is the grand object of Sherman’s movement, of which we have heard so much within a few weeks. [William T. Sherman]
The Kansas legislature has agreed to elect a United States Senator this session in place of Jim Lane, whose term will not expire until 1865. [James Henry Lane]
A Richmond paper says all the newspapers in the Confederacy, except a few doing government work, will be obliged to suspend. The immediate cause is probably the conscription of all the typos for the army.
Gen. Butler has commenced the establishment of the Common School system at Norfolk, and Fort Monroe, precisely like that in Massachusetts. It will insure the education of hundreds of children. [Benjamin F. Butler]
Smallpox prevails to an alarming extent in Knoxville.
The Army of the Cumberland is in a splendid condition. Troops draw full rations.
It is officially stated that the whole number of troops enlisted for actual service in the rebel army since October, is 100,000. Morgan is at Columbus [John Hunt Morgan]. Bragg has left Montgomery for Richmond [Braxton Bragg].
Mr. G. R. Riddle, who has succeeded Mr. Bayard as Senator from Delaware, was a democratic member of Congress from that state in 1854. His wife is a Virginia lady, who owned 75 slaves in Greenbrier county.4
The House Committee on Military Affairs have prepared a bill setting out with a declaration that it appears that many general officers are and have been entirely unemployed or not on duty corresponding with their rank, thus holding commissions and drawing pay without service, and standing in the way of the promotion of active officers, and provides that all Major Generals and Brigadier Generals who on the 15th of March next shall not be in the performance of service and for three months continuously next prior to that date, shall be dropped from the roll of the array and all pay shall cease, and the vacancies filled by appointment or promotion.
But this is not to effect officers absent from wounds or in consequence of being prisoners of War or on parole. Any Major General or Brigadier General appointed under the act of 1861, so dropped from the rolls shall not be discharged but remitted to his former position as staff or line officer of the regular army.
Chattanooga dispatches of the 7th, say the railroad is open to Cleveland, Tennessee, and will be open to Knoxville in five days. Reports of mutiny and wide spread rebellion in the rebel lines, are afloat.
1. Samuel “Sam” Jones (1819-1887) graduated from West Point and was a career military officer. When Virginia seceded in 1861, Jones was commissioned a major in the state corps of artillery, and he later joined the Provisional Confederate Army and served as chief of artillery and ordnance. He commanded the Department of Western Virginia (1862-1864), and later the district of South Carolina (1864-1865). In February 1865, Jones was named the commander of the Department of Florida and South Georgia, a post he held until the end of the War. He surrendered at Tallahassee on May 10, 1865. After the War, Jones served as president of the Maryland Agricultural College (1873-1875).
2. Henry Wilson (1812-1875) was a U.S. senator from Massachusetts from 1855-1873, when he resigned to become Ulysses S. Grant’s vice president. He was a leading Republican, and a strong opponent of slavery.
3. A. P. Field. The House Committee on Elections of the 38th Congress found that the alleged election of Mr. Field in New Orleans had been held without authority of law.
4. George Read Riddle (1817-1867) studied civil engineering and then the law. In 1849 he was appointed a commissioner to retrace the Mason-Dixon Line. Riddle served as a Deputy Attorney General of the United States (1849-1850). He was elected to the U.S. House in 1850 and served for two terms (1851-1855). On February 2, 1864 Riddle was elected to the U.S. Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Senator James Asheton Bayard, Jr. (1799-1880). Riddle served until his death on March 29, 1867.
The U.S. Senate had passed a rule stating that all senators would have to swear an oath of loyalty to the Union. Bayard refused, stating that such an oath would be unconstitutional. But after taking the oath and giving a long speech disputing its legality, he resigned his seat in the Senate. When Riddle died, Bayard again served as U.S. Senator from April 5, 1867, to March 4, 1869.