For his diary entry of February 4, 1864, Colonel Charles S. Wainwright lead off with some personal matters – request for leave, for purposes of supervising recruiting:
Culpeper Court House, February 4, Thursday. On Tuesday I sent up an application to be ordered on recruiting service for twenty days in order that I might look after my party, and took the application up to General [Seth] Williams himself, who kindly spoke to [General John] Sedgwick about it while I was still there. General Sedgwick said that it would have to go up to Washington, but that he would approve it; so Williams recommended me to get a ten-days’ leave meantime, as I wanted to get off at once. This General [John] Newton has given me, and I start tomorrow….
The details of the process sound silly. To take this leave, which was technically in the line of duty, Wainwright received approval for ten days by going to his corps commander. For the longer absence period, officials in Washington had to see the paperwork. Much of this was in place to block abuses seen earlier in the war. And I would add the “silly” process is not far off that used today for key leaders who request leave. Maybe not so silly after all.
On the first of the month the President ordered a draft for 500,000 men to be made on the first of March if the quotas are not filled before that time. This is an increase on his original call, and will give my party a better chance, as some of the districts had nearly filled their quotas on the first call.
Here again is a ready point to compare Federal and Confederate systems in regards to conscription and recruitment.
I have been a good deal troubled about court-martialing some of my men. Formerly I could hold a garrison court, and General [John] Reynolds used to order my grievous cases before some of the division courts. Now all regimental and garrison courts are done away with; the field officers of each regiment present are to constitute a court for trial of such cases in their own rights as formerly came before these courts. But I have no field officers of any of the regiments to which my batteries belong, except “L” and “H,” and so I cannot hold such courts….
Again, administrative details. But the sort of thing we readers, researchers, and historians need to take into account. The nature of the Army’s organization left Wainwright’s regiment, the 1st New York Light Artillery, was spread out across a couple of theaters. The notion of pulling in field officers to run such courts was impractical. So justice was delayed. Put yourself in the shoes of a soldier accused of a violation. Instead of a quick and speedy trial, the matter lingered overhead. On the flip side, commanders also preferred to prosecute these matters in short order. Particularly with actions that might pick at unit discipline or cohesion.
(Citations from Charles S. Wainwright, A Diary of Battle: The Personal Journals of Colonel Charles S. Wainwright, 1861-1865, edited by Allan Nevins, New York: Da Capo Press, 1998, pages 318-9.)