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Executive Order

July 31, 1862


The absence of officers and privates from their duty under various pretexts while receiving pay, at great expense and burden to the Government, makes it necessary that efficient measures be taken to enforce their return to duty or that their places be supplied by those who will not take pay while rendering no service. This evil, moreover. tends greatly to discourage the patriotic impulses of those who would contribute to support the families of faithful soldiers.

It is therefore ordered by the President--

I. That on Monday, the 11th day of August, all leaves of absence and furloughs, by whomsoever given, unless by the War Department, are revoked and absolutely annulled, and all officers capable of service are required forthwith to join their respective commands and all privates capable of service to join their regiments, under penalty of a dismissal from the service, or such penalty as a court-martial may award, unless the absence be occasioned by lawful cause.

II. The only excuses allowed for the absence of officers or privates after the 11th day of August are:

First. The order or leave of the War Department.

Second. Disability from wounds received in service.

Third. Disability from disease that renders the party unfit for military duty. But any officer or private whose health permits him to visit watering places or places of amusement, or to make social visits or walk about the town, city, or neighborhood in which he may be, will be considered fit for military duty and as evading duty by absence from his command or ranks.

III. On Monday, the 18th day of August, at 10 o'clock a. m., each regiment and corps shall be mustered. The absentees will be marked, three lists of the same made out, and within forty-eight hours after the muster one copy shall be sent to the Adjutant-General of the Army, one to the commander of the corps, the third to be retained; and all officers and privates fit for duty absent at that time will be regarded as absent without cause, their pay will be stopped, and they dismissed from the service or treated as deserters unless restored; and no officer shall be restored to his rank unless by the judgment of a court of inquiry, to be approved by the President, he shall establish that his absence was with good cause.

IV. Commanders of corps, divisions, brigades, regiments, and detached posts are strictly enjoined to enforce the muster and return aforesaid. Any officer failing in his duty herein will be deemed guilty of gross neglect of duty and be dismissed from the service.

V. A commissioner shall be appointed by the Secretary of War to superintend the execution of this order in the respective States.

The United States marshals in the respective districts, the mayor and chief of police of any town or city, the sheriff of the respective counties in each State, all postmasters and justices of the peace, are authorized to act as special provost-marshals to arrest any officer or private soldier fit for duty who may be found absent from his command without just cause and convey him, to the nearest military post or depot. The transportation, reasonable expenses of this duty, and $5 will be paid for each officer or private so arrested and delivered.

By order of the President:

E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War.

Abraham Lincoln, Executive Order Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/202624

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