To the Senate of the United States:
I herewith return without my approval Senate bill No. 476, "An act to fix the status of certain Federal soldiers enlisting in the Union Army from the States of Alabama and Florida," for the reasons embodied in the following facts, which have been obtained from the office of the Second Comptroller:
The First Regiment of Florida Cavalry, composed of six companies, was organized from December, 1862, to August, 1864, to serve three years. It was mustered out of service November 17, 1865, by reason of general order from the War Department discharging all cavalry organizations east of the Mississippi.
The men of this regiment enlisting prior to July 18, 1864, received $25 advance bounty at muster-in, and the discharged soldiers and heirs of those deceased have been paid the same bounty under act of July 22, 1861, joint resolution of January 13, 1864, an act of July 28, 1866, as men enlisted at the same time in other volunteer organizations.
The Second Regiment of Florida Cavalry, composed of seven companies, was organized from December, 1863, to June, 1864, to serve three years. It was mustered out November 29, 1865, by reason of the order discharging cavalry organizations east of the Mississippi. Most of the men received the $25 advance bounty at muster-in, and the discharged men and heirs of deceased men have received bounty under the several acts of Congress cited above, subject to the same conditions which apply to men who enlisted at the same time in other volunteer organizations.
The First Alabama Cavalry was originally organized as a one-year regiment from December, 1862, to September, 1863, and two companies of three-years men (Companies I and K) were added to complete its organization. These companies were formerly Companies D and E of the First Middle Tennessee Cavalry. Prior to the expiration of the term of the one-year men, the Adjutant-General of the Army, of date May 15, 1863, authorized General Dodge to fill up this command, and in accordance therewith the places of the companies discharged by reason of expiration of term were filled by companies of men enlisted for three years. The original companies, A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, and L, were organized from December, 1862, to September 25, 1863, and were discharged by companies from December 22, 1863, to September 28, 1864, in order as the term (one year) of each company expired. Companies I and K, mustered in August, 1862, to serve three years, were discharged in July, 1865, by reason of expiration of term of service. As reorganized under the order above mentioned, the regiment consisted of Companies A, B, C, D, E, and G, organized from February 5, 1864, to October, 1864, to serve three years; Companies F, L, and M, organized from December 28, 1863, to October 31 , 1864, to serve one and three years; Company H, organized in March and April, 1865, to serve three years, and Companies I and K, of the old organization described above. The men of the First Alabama Cavalry who enlisted for three years have been paid bounty under the several acts of Congress upon the same principles which apply to other three-years volunteers. The one-year men enlisted prior to July 18, 1864, received no bounty, but $100 bounty has been paid the proper heirs of the one-year men of this organization who died in the service, in accordance with the act of July 22, 1861, under which the regiment was originally organized.
Some of the men of these organizations were erroneously paid by the Pay Department at the time of their muster out of service, they having been paid but $100, when they should have been allowed $300 under the joint resolution of January 13, 1864. The balance of bounty due these men is being paid by the proper accounting officers. It will be seen by comparing the above statement with the act under consideration that the effect of the act will be to give the one-year men of the First Alabama Cavalry, nearly all of whom enlisted in 1862 and 1863, a bounty of each, or a proportionate part, according to the time served. It would give each man of Companies I and K of the First Alabama Cavalry more bounty. The bounty of the other three-years men of the First Alabama Cavalry, First Florida Cavalry, and Second Florida Cavlry, who enlisted prior to December 25, 1863, and from April 1, 1864, to July 17, 1864, inclusive, and who were discharged by reason of orders from the War Department, will not be affected.
The men enlisting in these organizations under joint resolution of January 13, 1864, receive under existing laws $100 more bounty than they would be entitled to receive if the act under consideration becomes a law.
In case of deceased men the working of the act is still more perplexing, as the prescribed order of inheritance under the act of July 4, 1864, is entirely different from that under all other acts.
A large proportion of the claims in case of the deceased men have been settled, and the bounties have been paid fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters, the proper heirs under existing laws, which under this act would go only to the widow, children, and widowed mother. Bounty has also been paid to parents under act of July 28, 1866, which this act would require to be paid to the widow, although she may have remarried.
Under the act of July 28, 1866, children of age are not entitled, but this act makes them joint heirs with the minor children.
In case of the deceased one-year men, and the three-years men enlisted under joint resolution of January 13, 1864, the effect of this act would only be to change the prescribed order of inheritance.
In case of the three-years men enlisted under act of July 22, 1861 , the order of inheritance is changed by this act, and the heirs entitled (widow, children, and widowed mother) will receive $100 more bounty than they are now entitled to receive.
It may be well to state that November 14, 1864, the War Department gave authority to enlist men who had deserted from the rebel army as recruits for the First Alabama Cavalry, with the distinct understanding that they were to receive no bounty. Such recruits have not been paid bounty, and it may be a question whether the act under consideration would entitle them to any.
U. S. GRANT.
Ulysses S. Grant, Veto Message Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/203864