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ADJUTANT GENERAL'S OFFICE.
Washington, September 2, 1898. The following letter of the Comptroller of the Treasury, of June 22, 1898, is published to the Army for the infor nation and guidance of all concerned:
OFFICE OF COMPTROLLER OF THE TREASURY, Hon. G. D. MEIKLEJOUN,
Washington, D. C., June 22, 1898. Assistant Secretary of War. SIR : Referring to your verbal inquiry of to-day in reference to furnishing copies of telegrams as vouchers to accounts for services rendered by telegraph companies, I have the honor to inform you that there is no case pending in this office involving this question. The decision of the Comptroller of November 18, 1897 (4 Comp. Dec., 233), is the last decision upon this point. At that time the following language was used by the Comptroller in reference to confidential messages :
Some unusual public interest may require the sending of a confidential telegram where secrecy is a public necessity. In such a case the suppression of such a message would be justified on the ground of paramount necessity, and the general requirements of accounting must yield. Such instances, fortunately, are of rare occurrence, and should not be made the excuse for the retention of all telegrams. When such an exceptional case presents itself a certificate of the Secretary of War may be accepted in lieu of the message, provided said certificate covers all material points. The certificate should state that the message was actually transmitted, and was confidential, and that it would be prejudicial to the public interests to have it exposed ; that it was on public business, and the number of words it contained ; whether it was a day or night miessage; ordinarily the person by whom sent and to whom delivered; the place from which sent and where delivered ; whether or not directions were given for its transmission over a bond-aided line; such a showing of the nature of the business upon which the message was sent as will enable the accounting officers to determine the appropriation properly chargeable with the expense; and that the same has not been paid.
; The "unusual public interest” referred to in that decision is certainly met by the present conditions, and I have no doubt that the telegrams which it is necessary for the War Department to send during the present war are, many of them, of a confidential character. I do not think there will be any difficulty in this matter if the Secretary of War will attach to the accounts a certificate substantially in the form suggested by the Comptroller's decision. Such a certificate should contain a statement that the telegraphing was on public business, the number of words in the message, whether day or night message, etc. It will be unnecessary to state the person to whom it is sent, or the place to which it is sent, if either of these facts is in itself a confidential matter. Unless the subject to which the telegram relates is stated, the appropriation should be designated.
I think with this explanation of the former decision of this office there should be no difficulty, during the present war, in having the telegraph accounts of your Department certified for payment. In such times as these the responsibility must devolve upon the War Department, and not upon the accounting officers, to a large extent. Respectfully yours,
R. J. TRACEWELL,
Comptroller. BY ORDER OF THE SECRETARY OF WAR:
H. C. CORBIN,
ADJUTANT GENERAL'S OFFICE,
Washington, September 2, 1898. The following is published to the Army for the information and guidance of all concerned:
1. Furloughs granted to enlisted men under the provisions of General Orders, No. 130, War Department, Adjutant General's Office, August 29, 1898, will not be given on the usual blank forms for furloughs, but will be given orally by commanding officers. If given in the regular form, however, before the receipt of this order, the fact will be noted on the musterout roll, and paymasters will require their surrender before making final payment, and will enter the fact of payment upon them and file them with the pay roll on which payment is made.
2. It having been reported to the War Department that many convalescent soldiers who have received furloughs and started for their homes have been taken ill on the way, to avoid further occurrences of this kind it is suggested in the strongest possible terms that all soldiers traveling homeward on furloughs will exercise their best judgment in caring for themselves, especially those who have been ill in hospitals with fevers. Their appetites are very keen, and unless they deny themselves everything execept the necessary food of the simplest character are in great danger of a relapse. This instruction is sent out hoping that may catch the eye of those men en route and also for the instruction of surgeons at hospitals. It is ordered that no man shall receive a furlough whom the surgon in charge believes to be unable to travel alone, and that no furloughed soldier shall leave hospital without receiving full instructions as to his diet while en route to his home from his surgeon.
BY ORDER OF THE SECRETARY OF WAR:
H. C. CORBIN,
ADJUTANT GENERAL'S OFFICE,
Washington, September 3, 1898. I. The commanding officers of military departments, army corps, and detached commands will, as soon as practicable, forward to the Adjutant General of the Army the names of such officers of the Army, regular and volunteer, as may be considered entitled to the brevet commissions “for distinguished conduct and public service in the presence of the enemy,” under section 1209, Revised Statutes. These lists will be forwarded through the military channel, and will show in each case the name, rank, regiment, or corps of the officer, and the date and place of the action in which he is reported as having distinguished himself, and also a description of the specific act of gallantry.
II. The following rules will govern the award of medals of honor under the resolution of Congress approved July 12, 1862, and under the act approved March 3, 1863, for such officers and enlisted men of the Army, regular and volunteer, as may “have most distinguished themselves in action.”
(a) Medals of honor will not be awarded to officers or enlisted men except for distinguished bravery or conspicuous gallantry, which shall have been manifested in action by conduct that distinguishes a soldier above his comrades, and that involves risk of life, or the performance of more than ordinarily hazardous duty. Recommendations for the award will be governed by this interpretation of extraordinary merit.
(b) Recommendations should be made only by the officer in command at the time of the “action,” or by an officer having personal cognizance of the specific act for which the medal is granted. The recommendation must be accompanied by a detailed recital of the circumstances, and by certificates of officers, or affidavits of enlisted men, who were eye-witnesses of the act. The testimony must, when practicable, embrace that of at least two eye-witnesses, and must describe specifically the act or acts by which the person in whose behalf the recommendation is made “most distinguished” himself, and the facts in the case must be further attested by the official reports of the action, record of events, muster rolls and returns, and descriptive lists. BY ORDER OF THE SECRETARY OF WAR:
H. C. CORBIN,