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the pension agent of the district in which the pensioner resides, who, after making due entries upon his roll, prepares a voucher covering the amount due to the last quarterly pay-day, and forwards it with the pen. sion-certiticate, to the pensioner; likewise, before each quarterly payment, he prepares from his roll and forwards to each old pensioner a similar voucher. These vouchers, when executed and returned, require careful examination as to genuineness of signature, execution before a proper magistrate, whose official character must be known to the agent or certitied to under seal of court, completeness of affidavits of non-marriage of widows and mothers, or of children being alive, and careful comparison of rate, and character of disability in surgeons' certificate of examination of invalid pensioners with his roll.
After this examination, if the voucher is perfect, (imperfect ones are returned for completion,) the agent is ready to pay. Payment is made solely, as required by law, by check payable to the order of the pensioner.
This check is drawn upon the United States Assistant Treasurer or National Bank depository, where funds have been placed to the agent's otticial credit, and it is mailed direct to the sworn post-office address of the pensioner in his last voucher.
These checks, official in character, uniform in style, made upon paper manufactured only for governmental use, engraved at the Treasury Department, and drawn only upon the sub-treasury or United States de. positaries, have become within the past four years almost a part of the national currency, a judicious location of the deposits of each agent hay. ing kept their value at par or above in almost every county in the United States.
At the end of each month, an alphabetical abstract of every individual payment made within the month is prepared by the agent in tripli. cate. One copy, with all the vouchers of Army payment, is forwarded to the Third Auditor ; of Navy payments, to the Fourth Auditor; the duplicates of each to this Office, and the triplicates are retained at the agency as a part of its records for future reference. For, while the rollbook has the fact of payment entered upon it, it is simply the ledger to which the monthly abstracts, showing the payments in detail, are day. books.
On the morning of the 4th day of the first month of each quarter, pay. ments commence simultaneously at each of the fifty-eight agencies.
In cities large crowds accumulate, and it is necessary that the agents should employ the largest possible force of clerks to wait upon them. It is difficult to close an agency when destitute pensioners plead their ne. cessities or those far from home beg to be paid, to enable them to return that night. To accommodate such, agents have made arrangements with depositories to keep open to cash the checks, and have continued to pay long after banking-hours. Evenings have been devoted to the payment of vouchers received by mail, and so rapidly and systematically are payments now made, that within ten days from the commencement of the quarterly payment, fully 160,000 pensioners are paid, and the pressure entirely removed.
All pensioners paid in person are saved any expense whatever in the preparation and execution of their vouchers. Nearly all those paid by mail have only to pay a single magistrate's fee, as pension agents are required to preserve on file evidence of the official character of magistrates within their district, thus saving to the pensioner the expense of a certificate of clerk of courts to this, which would be necessary if sent to a distant part of the country. Security of the present system-pen. sion agents give bonds in sums varying from $25,000 to $200,000 for the legitimate disbnrsement of the public moneys placed at their disposal, and the faithful discharge of their duties. No money passes into their hands.
Exact record of the disbursements at each agency, and new demands. issued upon it, are kept in this Office, from which its actual wants can be accurately estimated, and requisitions are made for just sufficient remittances to meet them. These remittances are placed with the subtreasurers or depositaries designated for the use of the agency, and from which the agent is prohibited from moving them, or any portion of them.
He can draw only upon them for the payment of pensions, and can nise only uniform pension-checks, in serial numbers, which are registered in this Office and issued from it. Every check issued by him and paid is retained on file at the depository and never returns to his hands. If irregularly issued it is evidence placed on record against him.
At the close of each month he is required to examine the statement of his depositary, of checks paid, certify as to its correctness, and prepare a list of all his outstanding checks. He is then required to make oath in his account-current, that the balance shown upon it due the Government, together with the amount of his outstanding checks, was on deposit with his depositary, at the date to which his accounts were brought.
Arrangements are now made by which the deposits standing to the credit of each agent, on the 15th and last days of each month, are brought before this Office for comparison with his accounts. In tliis manner irregularities, which would have been otherwise undiscovererl, have been detected and the moneys recovered.
Out of $220,668,920.90, placed in the hands of pension-agents for disbursement, since the commencement of paying pensions, on account of the rebellion, only about $193,000 stands upon the books as deficiencies, to be recovered upon their bonds.
Pension-checks vary in amount from $6, the minimum quarterly pen. sion, to $3,535.00, the largest issue on account of arrears.
The average rate of pension, monthly, is $9.21, giving an average quarterly check of $31.50. I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. H. BAKER,
Commissioner. Hon. John COBU'RN,
Member of Congress.
Statement showing the number and location of agencies where the Army and Mary pensions
are paid, together with the number of pensioners on the roll of each on the 30th June 1873.
Location of agency.
68, 095 88
72, 545 62
416, 820 20
3.99. 050 84
129, 459 53
393, 279 64
13, 395 95
908, 076 0!
29, 185, 289 62
Total number of agents, 58.
* Agencies which pay also Navy pensions.
$30, 169, 341 00
LETTER OF SECRETARY OF WAR AS TO THE ENGINEER BATTALIOX.
Washington City, January 17, 1874. DEAR SIR : A rumor has reached me that a proposition to disband two companies of the battalion of engineers is now pending before your committee. If such is the fact, I desire, most earnestly, it will consider the following statements :
We have now but four officered companies of these troops, which have been reduced lately to a strength of eighty-three men each. There is also a skeleton organization of twenty men, without officers, called a company on paper. One of these four companies is at West Point, in accordance with section 4 of the law of May 15, 1846 ; the other three companies are at Willet's Point, N. Y., where the instruction of this class of troops in their peculiar duties is imparted, in conformity with the requirements of the law above quoted, and the number of men now there is as small as is compatible with their proper instruction.
They are thoroughly drilled in infantry tactics, and during the past four years have repeatedly served in the streets of New York and Brooklyn, under the general commanding the Department of the East, in the enforcement of the revenue laws and preventing election riots. They have served faithfully in the Mexican war and the war of the rebellion, as the battles inscribed on their colors and in the Army Register shows. They are a most intelligent and picked body of troops, and must be of this character for the performance of their special duties.
At this time in particular they are more needed than ever for the intelligent handling, planting, and working of torpedoes, which have risen so recently into an important branch of our defenses.
They are always available for service under the orders of the department commanders when the exigency for their use arises, and a telegram to the War Department furnishes them immediately, and has done so repeatedly.
at other times they should, in accordance with law and the custom of service, be engaged under my direction in their proper drill and spe. cialty, which embraces all the duties of sapping, mining, pontoniering, and use of torpedoes, and should be no more or no less used on the plains against Indians than should the bulk of the artillery arm, or the tifteen and twenty iuch guns, or any other elements for the defense and care of fortified places. Especially at this time do I consider it will be a most decided detriment to the public interest to reduce the number of troops of this arm of service.
I hope you will excuse the liberty I have taken in writing to you thus earnestly on this subject. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
WM. W. BELKYAP,
Secretary of War. Hon. JOHN COBURN, M. C.,
House of Representatives.
STATEMENT OF ADJUTANT-GENERAL AS TO NUMBER OF POSTS AND
STATIONS OF THE ARMY.
Washington, January 3, 1874. SIR : In compliance with your request of the 26th ultimo, I have the 'honor to transmit herewith a list of the military posts and stations of the United States, now in existence, with the number of companies composing their garrisons. I have also respectfully to inform you that under the act of Congress approved July 28, 1866, fixing the enlisted strength of the Army at 51,605, the average number of military posts garrisoned or in charge of orduance-sergeants, was 456. Under the act of March 3, 1869, reducing the number of enlisted men to 35,036, the number of posts was 290.
The act of July 15, 1870, limited the enlisted force of the Army to 30,000 men. Under this law the number of posts is 237, as shown by the accompanying pamphlet. Very respectfully, your obeclient servant,
E. D. TOWNSEND,
Adjutant-General. P. S.-Having already prepared the inclosed statement before the personal explanation made by Hon. Mr. Coburn, I inclose it with the other statements since collected.
E. D. TOWNSEND,
Adjutant General. Hon. John COBURN, M. C., Chairman Committee on Military Affairs,
House of Representatirrs, Washington, D. ('.
List of the military posts and stations of the United States, with their garrisons; and also
the stations of troops, by companies, January 1, 1874.
Abercrombie, Fort, D. T. Lat. 46° 27', long. 96° 28'. Department of Dakota. On the Red River of the North, 168 miles north west of Saint Cloud, Minn., the nearest station on the Saint Paul and Pacific Railroad, whence supplies are transported by wagons. Reservation declared April 12, 1867. Reduced March 25, 1871, under act of February 24, 1871. Garrison, two companies infantry.
Adams, Fort, R. I. Lat. 41° 29', long. 71° 20'. Department of the East. On Brenton's Point, east side of the entrance to Newport Harbor. Land owned by the United States. Garrison, four companies artillery.
Alcatraz Island, Cal. Lat. 37° 49' 27", long. 1220 24' 19''. Department of California. In San Francisco Harbor. Reserved November 6, 1850. Garrison, two companies artillery.
Allegheny Arsenal, Pa. Lat. 40° 32', long. 802. At Pittsburgh, Pa. Land owned by the United States. “Arsenal of construction." Garrison, detachment ordnauce.
Andrew, Fort, Mass. Lat. 41° 37', long. 70° 40'. Department of the East. P. 0. address : Plymouth, Mass. On Gwinet Point, north side of entrance to Plymouth Harbor. Lands deeded to the United States June 7, 1870. Garrison in charge ordnancesergeant.
Angel Island, Cal., (Camp Reynolds.) Lat. 37° 48', long. 122° 26'. Department of California. In San Francisco Harbor. Reserved November 6, 1850, and April 20, 1860. General recruiting depot for the Military Division of the Pacific. Garrison, one company infantry.
Apache, Camp, A. T. Lut. 34o, long. 109° 45', (approximate.) Department of Arizona. P. O. address : via Fort Wingate, N. M. In the White Mountain country, about 50 miles porth, 10° east, from Camp Goodwin, and bears from Zuni Village about south 34° west, and about 112 miles distant. Reservation not yet declared. Garrison, two companies cavalry and one company infantry.
Atlanta, Ga. Lat. 33° 48', long. 84 32'. Department of the South. Garrison, seven companies infantry.
Augusta Arsenal, Ga. Lat. 33° 28', long. 81° 54'. At Augusta, Ga. Lands owned by the United States.' “Arsenal of construction.” Garrison, detachment of ordnance.
Austin, Tex. Lat. 30° 15', long. 97° 47'. Department of Texas. Garrison, one company infantry.
Abraham Lincoln, Fort, D. T. Garrison, six companies cavalry and three companies infantry.