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Courts of inquiry and courts martial are generally expensive and to be avoided, if consistent with the maintenance of discipline. An informal and preliminary inquiry and effort at settlement, has in some instances been adopted with success during the past year, under the direction of the Commander-in-Chief. In this way, expense has been and must be incurred. An appropriation of a few hundred dollars, subject to the disposal of the Executive, would in my opinion, save the State several thousands of dollars. I can not forbear in this connection, to refer to the activity and ability of the Judge Advocate General, displayed as well in the settlement of difficulties in various parts of the State, as in the report of his opinion in cases referred to him by the Commander-in-Chief.
Applications are constantly made to this office for tents and camp equipage. There are only two hundred and sixty-three tents in the State, fit for use. It is unnecessary to enlarge upon the great utility of encampments, in promoting military discipline, improvement and enthusiasm. How, then, are we to obtain the necessary camp equipage? It is absolutely indispensable, especially considering the increase of volunteer companies. The CommissaryGeneral cannot furnish them. The United States authorities construe the act of Congress providing for the transmission of arms to the several States and Territories, to be inapplicable to camp equipage. I concur with the Commissary-General in recommending the application of all, or a part of the proceeds of the sales of old arms and military stores, to the purchase of tents and camp equipage.
The issue of arms and usual equipments the last year has considerably exceeded that of 1850. Security for their safe keeping and return when required, is filed in this office. In the words of Governor Wright, in a communication transmitting the annual report of the Commissary. General in 1845, “ The loan of State arms upon bonds supposed to be sufficient when taken, to secure their safe return, should be regulated by distinct enactments, as to the security to be required; the manner of ascertaining the sufficiency of the sureties; the facts upon which loans of arms shall be made; the mode cf ascertaining periodically the condition of the arms loaned; the continued ability of the sureties and the like.”
When it is considered that the sureties for the most part are personally unknown to the Adjutant-General, and reside at considerable distance from head-quarters; that they may die, leave the State, or become irresponsible; without the knowledge of such facts reaching the department, the danger of serious loss to the State must be conceded and ought to be guarded against.
· At the State Agricultural Fair at Rochester, in September last, a battalion, under the command of Colonel H. S. Fairchild, and belonging to General Swan's brigade, paraded for inspection and review by the Commander-in-Chief, accompanied by Major General Wool, U. S. A., who had accepted an invitation from His Excellency, to join him in the review. Both expressed their approbation of the appearance and conduct of the troops and officers in command. The Governor's staff attended him on this occasion in full uniform, under the new order.
The first division N. Y. State militia, commanded by Major General Charles W. Sanford, paraded on the twenty-first day of October last, for its annual inspection and review, by the Commander-in-Chief, who was accompanied by his staff. The division turned out in greater force than upon any previous occasion, and the reviewing officer expressed, in general orders, his appreciation and acknowledgments of its brilliant appearance and high attainments in military art. The city of New York, wealthy and populous, occupying an exposed situation, and liable to frequent outbreaks and disturbances, has more than once been compelled to look to the military arm to sustain the civil authority, in the maintenance of law and order. She may well regard the first division with gratitude, pride, and confidence.
In the latter part of November, I addressed a printed circular to every county treasurer in the State, calling attention to the requirement of section eighty-five of the militia act of 1847. Forty three of those officers have complied with the law. From an abstract of their reports, hereto annexed, it appears that all the moneys received by them for fines and commutation amount to thirteen thousand four hundred and ninety-two dollars and fortyseven cents; that there has been expended the sum of twelve thou
sand eight hundred and thirty-five dollars and fifty-three cents There is now a balance in their hands of twelve thousand and ninety-two dollars and eighty-two cents, the greater part of which consists of the balance remaining after payment of the expenses of the year 1850.
This falling off in the receipts of county treasurers is to be ascribed to an erroneous construction of the forty-third section of the act of April 16, 1851. Notwithstanding strenuous efforts were made by this department to explain the intent and meaning of that section by despatching circulars to all the enrolling officers in the State, and by correspondence, the idea prevailed in some districts that the commandants of company districts were not required to perform the duty of enrolment for the year 1851; and consequently in those districts, no fines or commutation mo neys have been collected. It will be observed, also, that many of the county treasurers have neglected to make the report to the Adjutant General required by law.
As the act above referred to is now in full force in all its parts, it is presumed that it will not be liable to misconstruction hereafter.
Seventy-nine officers have received certificates from this office, that they have reported themselves to the Adjutant General during the past year, as wishing to retain their rank as supernumeraries, which certificates, on being exhibited to the commanding officers of the regimental district in which such officers reside, entitle them to exemption from the performance of military duty, except in case of war, invasion or insurrection.
Since the first of January, 1851, seven hundred and seventynine commissions have been issued, of which thirteen were to brigadier-generals, twenty-eight to colonels, twenty-three to lieutenant colonels, thirty to majors, one hundred and sixty-four to captains, one hundred and eighty-one to first-lieutenants, ono hundred and ninety-one to second lieutenants, eleven to brigade inspectors, and the remainder to staff officers of divisions, brigades and regiments.
I have thus as briefly as possible, and very imperfectly alluded to the transactions of this department, since the first of January 1851.
In conclusion, I beg leave to refer to the necessity and importance of an effective and well organized militia system. Hostility exists in some quarters to any military organization. Such a sys tem, however, is required by acts of Congress, passed in pursuance of the provisions of the Constitution of the United States, and is indispensably necessary as a national defence, and to enforce the observance and execution of the laws of the State and the Union.'
The efficiency of our State militia, as an armed police, has been often practically demonstrated. The future has its dangers and danger is none the less certain, because remote and invisible. The civil authority, as it has, so may again prove unavailing. To sustain it, we must resort either to the militia or a standing army. The one is cheap, the other is expensive. The one is republican; it is the whole people, citizens themselves enforcing their own laws. The other is despotic consisting of a few armed and paid by government. The one disappears with the necessity which called it forth. The other is composed of men whose habitual profession is that of arms. The one is adapted to defence only. The other is ready and adequate to invasion and conquest. No citizen who desires to see his country able to resent insult or to repel attacks or to execute her laws, or who condemns the policy of a standing army, will oppose ridicule, or in any way embarrass the militia system of this State. He will rather strive to improve and perfect it. All which is respectfully submited.
L. WARD SMITH,