Military Legislation During 1847


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Chapter VII Page: 84

On January 12th Congress, acting on the recommendation of the Secretary of War, passed a measure permitting recruits to join the Regular Army for "five years" or "during the war," and granted a bounty of $12. (47)

Had this been done nine months earlier the existing difficulty in securing recruits (48) would have been largely obviated. On February 11th, the Army was increased by ten regiments, (49) to be enlisted "for the war," a major added to each regiment, (50) a bounty given to all soldiers, regular or volunteer, upon honorable discharge at the expiration of one year's service, (51) and the Quartermaster and Pay corps augmented. (52)

Like its predecessor, this act was passed too late to secure the results desired, and the new regiments were consequently unable to reach the front until the summer was nearly over. The dearth of officers caused an increase to be made (53) to correspond with the number of new regiments, as well as adding some artillery companies. (54)

The Endeavour was likewise made to rectify the mistake of short enlistments, (55) and Congress wisely reverted to the correct principle of having the President commission all volunteer officers. (56) These three measures completed the military legislation for the year.


47. $6 to be paid upon enlistment and $6 upon their joining their regiment.

48. The authorized strength of the Army had been fixed at 17,812 (see above, footnote 37), but on December 5, 1846, it actually numbered only 10,690. The deficiency of 6,958 was thus explained in the report of the Secretary of War:

"The volunteer service is regarded generally by our citizens as preferable to that in the Regular Army, and as long as volunteers are expected to be called for it will be difficult to fill the ranks of the regular regiments."

49. One of dragoons and nine of infantry.__Callan, p. 379.

50. No law for retirement then existed and many officers were disqualified by age, wounds, etc., from service in the field.

51. 160 acres of land or $100 in Treasury scrip bearing 6 per cent. interest. To soldiers of less than twelve months service was granted a bounty of 40 acres or $25 in scrip.

52. A step made necessary by the increase in the line.

53. By the Act of March 3, 1847. Of the staff corps the departments of the Adjutant-General, Pay and ordnance were alone augmented.

54.Two to each regiment of artillery. Authorization was also given to equip two light batteries in each regiment.

55. Section 3 empowered the President to organize into companies battalions and regiments as many of the volunteers in Mexico as would re-enlist for the war, and Section 4 granted such men a bounty of $12. Section 5 authorized him to accept the services of individuals volunteering in order to fill up the existing vacancies in the volunteer regiments, and Section 21 empowered the President, in case any regiments, regular or volunteer, could not be so filled to war strength, to consolidate them and discharge all supernumerary officers.

These provisions made manifest the difficulty in obtaining volunteers__a difficulty which past experience had proved would increase with the prolonging of the war.

56. Section 3. This act is given in full by Callan, pp. 383-387.

Website: The History
Article Name:  Military Legislation During 1847
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


BIBLIOGRAPHY: From my collection of Books: The Military Unpreparedness of the United States- A History of American Land Forces from Colonial Times until June 1, 1915. By Frederic Louis Huidekoper; Publisher: The Macmillan Company-New York 1916
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