The Veteran Reserve Corps
The casualties from battle had taken its toll on America. The numbers of those making the supreme sacrifice had been horrendous, disease had also robbed many men of a long life, yet others would be considered blessed to walk away with a wound that bought them a ticket home. Certain woundings would disqualify a man for further combat effectiveness, yet still be of service not to retire his life in the army altogether.
In the mid spring of 1863, the United States War Department authorized these veteran soldiers to organize into companies and battalions and render garrison support wherever needed. General Orders Number 105 was issued on April 28th specifying the qualifications of an Invalid Corps, the battle hardened and meritorious veteran soldier.
With the approval of a certified medical officer that these men were still capable of rendering sufficient service to the government, the rolls were to be submitted to the Provost Marshal General of the United States.
A Board of Enrollment had been set up to accept such applications from officer and enlisted alike to examine proof that the member wishing to re-enter the service having been honorably discharged due to their wounding, causing them to be unfit for the draft, yet fit to stand a post.
If it was furthermore able to be obtained, the Secretary of War desired a personal recommendation from the soldier's former regimental, brigade, or divisional commander as to the character and conduct of the enrollee. With this established, all medical officers were forbidden to discharge any soldier, who in their best medical opinion, were able to serve the government in such a capacity.
The government designed a distinctive uniform that could be unmistaken for any other federal soldier in the field, clothed with a dark blue regulation cap, the jacket and trousers were colored a sky blue with dark trim.
The soldiers themselves would only be called to arms should the emergency present itself, and in the summer of 1864, it had. Major General Jubal Early had invaded the state of Maryland once again with the hope of capturing Washington and relieving the Confederate Prisoners incarcerated at Point Lookout, Maryland. When news came that all defenders were required to keep the rebels out of the capitol, members of the Veteran Reserve Corps was mustered by the Army Chief of Staff Major General Henry Wager Halleck and had partaken in the defense of the city. These soldiers helped in repelling the late war invasion and made the colors proud, once more engulfed in the smoke of battle.
Once security was re-established about Washington City, these soldiers would return to their garrison duties once more having proudly repulsed their enemies. Behind the lines of the combat troops pushing and gaining ground, stand the support troops, the Veteran Reserve Corps, who likewise secured for themselves a small piece of the glory in defense of their country.
Editors Note: Mr.Moran is a feature writer on the US-Civilwar.com writers staff. He may be contacted with your questions, ideas and requests at firstname.lastname@example.org