Wednesday, March 20, 2013

March 21, 1863 (Monday): A Proper Accounting

Robert Hall Chilton A.A.I.G.

March 23, 1863.

  With a view to a resumption of active operations by the 1st of April, the army will at once prepare for the approaching campaign. 
   I.  All surplus baggage, public and private, properly marked, will be sent to Richmond, under charge of a responsible officer from each brigade, to be turned over to Captain (W. E.) Warren, assistant quarter-master, who will receipt therefor in bulk, and will retain the same in the store-house provided  for the purpose until it shall be required.
   II.  No further leaves of absence will be given, to extend beyond the 31st instant, except on surgeon's certificate of disability, as prescribed in Regulations, or in cases of extraordinary urgency.
   III.  There being some misapprehension as to the returns required to be made by regimental officers to the several departments to which property in their hands appertains, and returns having in consequence heretofore been been omitted in many cases, commanders of regiments will immediately take an inventory of all ordinance stores in the possession of their regiments and ordinance sergeants; file them with accounts now in hands of said sergeants; forward receipts to the Chief of Ordinance at Richmond, Va., for stores thus found, and make out hereafter the returns required in Army Regulations.  All future losses must be accounted for by certificates of company officers, stating the circumstances of loss; and where through fault of the men, that they have been or will be charged on the muster rolls, specifying the months.  Returns will also be made by company officers of all property in their hands, except arms and ammunition accounted for by regimental commanders, retaining duplicates with company papers.  When an officer is relieved from his command, he will pass receipts and invoices for property to his successor.  If removed by accident, the next in rank will take an inventory immediately of all the public property for which his predecessor was responsible, and send receipts therefor to the proper departments, to aid in settlement of his accounts, and as evidence of his own responsibility.
   IV.  It will be necessary to reduce the transportation of the army to the lowest limit.  This necessity arises from the difficulty of procuring animals and forage, and from the increased demand for transportation of subsistence when the army shall be removed from the vicinity of railroads.  The commanding general regrets the necessity for curtailing the comforts of an army which has evinced so much self-denial in the endurance of privations, but feels satisfied that ready acquiescence will be shown in all measures tending to secure success and the more speedy conclusion of the war, and appeals to officers and men to aid him in the accomplishment of this greatly desired object by the strict observance of orders and careful perservation of the property in the hands, daily becoming more valuable by the difficulty of replacing it.
   By command of General R. E. Lee:

   Assistant Adjutant and Inspector General

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 25, Part 2, Pages 681-682.

Armies have always run on paperwork and the Army of Northern Virginia was no exception.  Underlying the message is the hope war will eventually end and the concurrent idea that supplies of everything useful to the army were becoming scarcer.  Robert Hall Chilton graduated 48th of 50 in the West Point Class of 1837.  Despite his less than illustrious academic record he rose in administrative ranks in the Adjutant General's office in Richmond.  He served as a cavalry camp instructor in Ashland before becoming Lee's Chief of Staff in September of 1862, jsut in time to sign Lee's famous lost order in the Antietam Campaign.  In May thru November of 1864 he commanded the 57th Virginia at the Wilderness and Spotsylvania before returning to staff duty.

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