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The New Army Bill

The New Army Bill image
Parent Issue
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OCR Text

A Washington correspondent states tliat " Opposition to certain features of the Army bilí inoreases, although there are many provisions whidh meet with general approval. Its enlargement of military power at the cost of civil authority is exciting wide criticism, and the issues made by Gen. Sherman with Secretaries Eawlins and Belknap are recalled to the prejudice of the new measure. The abridgment of the power of the President in the assignment of staff officers, making him dependent npon the favor of the General of the Army, meets with disfavor, and is likely to be stricken f rom the bill. The probabilities are that both the Senate and the House, particularly the latter, will be slow to enlarge the power of the chief military commander in time of peace by limiting the powers of the President, who is the constitutional Commander-in-Chief. "The origin of the secttons of the bill which eonfer enlarged authority upon Gen. Sherman dates back to his issue with Secretary Eawlins in Mai-ch, 1869. Gen. Schofleld was then aoting Secretary of War, and he issued the Sherman order before Gen. Rawlins was qualified, transferring the heads of the staff bureaus f rom the civil to the military control. Gen. Sherman followed the Schofleld order with a general order from the headquarters of the army, transferring the heads of the staff bureau from the control of the Secretary of War to hit staft". Gen. Rawlins ut once protested against the subordination of his office to the General of the Army, and on the Ü7th of March, with the approval of the President, he rescinded the Schofield and Sherman orders and restored the military and civil authorities to their old relations. The fact that the new Army bill proposes to give the General of the Army the authority by law that Gen. Sherman attempted to exercise under both Rawlins and Belknap, and even to give him greater power over the civil authority of the War Department than he then claimed, is operatijig greatly to the prejwdiee of the measure, and will doubtless lead to its severe revisión by Congress. "Those who havo sacred regard for the civil powers of the Government also protest against the extraordinnry power it conf ers upon courts-martial to enforce the attendance of witnesses both in civil and military law by military oflicers. The transfer of all the powers of a civil court to a court-martial, to enforce processes, and attach and punish for contempt by military rules, is a startling innovation en the civil government in time of profound peace. " A spicy discussion may be anticípate d on the bill in both branches, and it is now expected that Senator Edmunds will declare some features of the bill limiting the powers of the President to be unconstitutional. It is generally expected that the bill will pass after it shall have been materially amended."


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