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Samuel Cony Transcripts
To Abraham Lincoln
Under your call for five hundred thousand men, to be enforced by an inexorable conscription, citizens of Maine are coming forward very freely to enlist in the navy, but requisite facilities are not granted by the navy department to examine and muster those presenting. I am told that they decline enlisting landsmen. Maine will give you the best sailors in the service, intelligent and patriotic. It is intolerable that we are to be cut off from putting in our men who are anxious to enlist, either for want of proper facilities or by vexatious rulings of subordinates. I am likewise informed that the receiving ship Sabine now at Portland, is about to leave, which will put an end to these enlistments altogether. I ask of you to order the Secretary of the Navy to retain her there and to have examining and mustering officers placed at Bangor with force sufficient in each place to attend to all who call.
If you will not accept our men for the navy and enforce the conscription for the army, you may look for political results, agreeable neither to you nor myself.
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 22d Inst, in reference to the enlistment of seamen at Portland, Maine. Also, your telegram to the President, referred to this Dept. There is just at this juncture a pressing demand for new recruiting naval rendezvous in anticipation of the draft. These unusual demands, growing out of extensive call into another and different service, this Department cannot respond to, to the extent required. We have neither the officers nor Surgeons for such a purpose. Still, desirous to procure men for the Navy, we have endeavored, as far as possible, to furnish every facility for those who might choose to enter the Navy. The "Sabine", which is at Portland, is directed to enlist recruits, and there is no intention of withdrawing her from that station at present, whatever rumors may have prevailed. If there is, as you intimate, any improper machinery, any inside tract or process of levying black mail, I shall be greatly obliged to you, and you would be doing a public benefit to ascertain and communicate the facts to this Department. In a matter of this importance there should be cooperation between the general and local authorities. No person in the service has any right to exact or receive any sum for an enlistment, and if there is such a practice, it is desirable it should be reported, with a view to correction.
The process of enlistment is necessarily slow, - there being the descriptive list to be carefully taken, the physical examination, &c, but Captain Lowry of the "Sabine" has been written to and enjoined to expedite matters so far as is practicable, and consistent with safety against impositions, which in these times are numerous.
I appreciate most fully the services of Maine and the value of the seamen which she furnishes, and she has an opportunity of not only enlisting but mustering men into the service within her own limits, at Portland and Kittery.
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