Rollin, Frank [Frances] A.
|CHAPTER XVI. -- RECRUITING AS IT WAS.|
WE take the following, on the subject of recruiting, with its light and shadows as viewed by him. Whatever of good or evil was entailed in his regulations, with him the responsibility rested. He says, "On entering this service, there was no guide, no precedent; but every one, however ignorant, assumed and pursued a course, in many instances, unjust to the recruit, and detrimental to the service, and at once dishonorable, but subservient to his own selfish ends. This was apparent, and at once made the object of attention. For instance, the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Volunteers were raised by special provision by the citizens or private contributions, as was understood, allowing each enlisted man fifty dollars bounty, which at that time was twenty-five dollars more than was being given by most of the states, perhaps by any other state. It was then understood the bounties of the Fifty-fourth were not appropriated by the state funds. The states which afterwards raised colored troops did so from state appropriations. Rhode Island, being the next to Massachusetts in this movement, appropriated three hundred dollars bounty to the men." It was in the service of the latter state he acknowledged receiving
"The states which gave colored troops to the service made special arrangements for recruiting them, for the simple reason that necessarily a great part of them had to come from other places than the state which organized them. The provisions made for recruiting white soldiers could not be successfully applied in the case of the colored.
"These were points of importance,--of great importance, --because they involve principles of justice to all concerned.
"Rhode Island, for instance, paid two hundred and fifty dollars bounty to the men in raising the heavy artillery, leaving a residue of fifty dollars for all expenses incurred--salaries of officers, agents, sub-agents, subsistence of recruits till mustered in, transportation--a heavy item of expense, when it is remembered that the greater portion of these men were from the States of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Missouri, where the agents had actually to go to get them, and when obtained in Kentucky and Missouri, for the most part, it cost from ten to twenty-five dollars each to get across the river to the Indiana or Illinois side. It will be readily understood, by an experienced business man or financier, that these immense expenses could not be kept up and the recruits be justly dealt with.
"Again, Connecticut appropriated three hundred dollars bounty to the men, and I was probably the first who received an appointment, by contract, to manage her recruiting in the Western States. The first proposition in meeting the military authorities was to fix the bounties, impressing upon the gentlemen the fact that bounties, being merely awards, were large or small, according to circumstances; that all freedmen who voluntarily presented themselves for enlistment, it follows, should and would receive the three hundred dollars, because no extra or special expenses were incurred. All who had to be subsisted, and sent from the West in Indiana and Illinois, should receive two hundred and fifty dollars, and in all cases where slaves would have to be obtained in the slave states, with all the risks and expenses, one hundred dollars was ample pay. When such men as the brave Voglesang, the intrepid Lennox, and the sons of Frederick Douglass, and my own son, received but fifty dollars, regarding it as ample, their patriotism inducing them to join without bounty. Besides this, those recruited from the slave states received their liberty de facto , which they never would have attempted without our agency.
"This I considered justice, and so established it as a system of recruiting. If there had not been a dollar, instead of being a hundred, to give as a bounty to a single slave, or to the sons of the distinguished Douglass, and my own, I should have acted as I did--put my own son in the army, endeavor to get the bondman in, for the purpose of overthrowing the infamous system of slavery and the rebellion.
"On returning from Connecticut, I consulted my
"All this, however, neither covers, defends, nor tolerates in any degree the reprehensible and most shameful impositions continually practised, by various methods of deceptions under the pretext of recruiting. What I defend is a legitimate system laid down, to be strictly conformed to the letter. Whatever was promised to the recruit he should have received, and this should have been fixed and enforced by the proper authorities, and not left optional with a stolid set of human brokers."