October 23, 1864 – Suggestions aimed at making the Enrolled Militia, Defenses of Memphis more efficient

MEMPHIS, TENN., October 23, 1864.
Brig. Gen. C. W. DUSTAN, Cmdg. Enrolled Militia, Defenses of Memphis:
GEN.: The undersigned, commanding officers of the several regiments of your
command, most respectfully call attention to the following facts in regard to
the militia organization of Memphis, which we think demand the consideration
of the military authorities in order that the organization may be more efficient:
The militia is composed of the business men, clerks, and laboring men of
Memphis who are physically able for duty. In addition to drilling once a week
they are required to guard the armories day and night, to arrest absentees from
drill and guard duty, to patrol the city from time to time in search of
delinquents and those who wish to avoid duty in the organization, and at the
same time they are expected to keep their arms and accouterments in good
order. These requirements, it has been found by experience, are a severe tax on
the time and pockets of the members, and more particularly on the clerks and
the laboring class of community. This would not be so objectionable, or at least
would not be made a matter of complaint, were it not for the fact that there are
nearly, if not quite, as many exempts (from various causes—under age, over
age, and physical disability) who are equally interested in the safety of the city
as there are men in the militia, and who contribute nothing to the organization,
neither time, money, nor good will, and who do not, as the recent emergency
plainly proved, tender their services in any manner or form in time of need.
Inasmuch as the organization is for the better defenses of the city, the city is
certainly interested; and as it is an organization required by the military
authorities we most respectfully request that said authorities aid us in making
the following changes in the organization: We ask that permanent guards be
employed, to be paid by the city, to do duty at the several regimental in their
charge, additional guards in cases of emergency to be detailed from the
different regiments; that a sufficient number of competent persons be
employed by the city to keep the arms and accouterments of the different
regiments in good serviceable condition, and that the city furnish and needful
articles for keeping the arms in good condition and repair. We also suggest the
almost absolute necessity for the regimental adjutant to be constantly on duty.
Business men cannot be found who have sufficient time to discharge the duties
of the office. We therefore request that a competent person for each regiment
may be detailed from the army, or that we be authorized to select such officers,
and that in either case they be allowed the pay of regimental adjutants in the
army, on condition, however, that they do not engaged in any kind of business
while holding the office. During the fall and coming winter we suggest that all
business he suspended after 12 m. on Monday of each week, and that each
regiment be required to devote at least three hours to company and battalion
C. McDONALD, Col. First Regt. Enrolled Militia.
D. RYAN, Col. Second Regt. Enrolled Militia, Defenses of Memphis.
M. T. WILLIAMSON, Col. Third Regt. Enrolled, Militia, Defenses of
[First indorsement.]
MEMPHIS, Memphis, Tenn., October 25, 1864.
Respectfully forwarded.
So much of the communication as applies to permanent guards at the several
armories is disapproved. I deem it necessary that the commands should be
instructed by practice in the manner of properly performing guard duty. The
other suggestions contained in the paper are heartily approved, and earnestly
recommended. In order to promote the efficiency of the organization I would
suggest that the system of fines for no-attendance to duty in the several
regiments be abolished, or at least modified; its working at present is to throw
nearly all the duty on the laboring man, who can illy afford the time lost from
his daily work. The man of means neglects or avoids the many calls for extra or
daily duty, and by paying his fine exempts himself from unpleasant
consequences. Every tour of duty he thus avoids is thrown upon his poorer
neighbor. My opinion is that a system that would punish neglect of duty by
assignment to extra duty, to which might be added in gross cases imprisonment
and perhaps fine, would work successfully. In order to adopt this plan it will be
necessary for the city to make a monthly appropriation to support the
regimental organizations. In my judgment one dollar per month for each officer
and man actually present would be ample for the requirements of the several
C. W. DUSTAN, Brig.-Gen., Enrolled Militia, Cmdg.
[Second indorsement.]
HDQRS. DISTRICT OF MEMPHIS, Memphis, Tenn., November 6, 1864.
Respectfully forwarded.
The suggestions and recommendations of the regimental commanders of the
militia are approved. Something ought to be done to lessen the burden of
militia duty, especially of the poorer class of men. It is now a great hardship on
that class. The armories should be guarded at the expense of the city. There is
no justice in requiring the comparatively few men who are now doing the duty
to bear the whole burden for the benefit of the city. The property and business
of the city should be made to pay.
R. P. BUCKLAND, Brig.-Gen., Cmdg.

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