Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, Transmitted to Congress, With the Annual Message of the President, December 3, 1877
to Mr. Fish.
St. Petersburg, December 8, 1876. (Received December 27.)
Sir: I have the honor to inclose herewith two copies of an article from the Journal de t. Petersburg, with a translation of the same, giving a synopsis of the principal provisions for levying troops in Russia, under the law of compulsory military service.
I have, &c.,
The Bulletin des Lois publishes the regulation for the troops sanctioned by the Emperor 30th October, 1876. It comprises 42 chapters. These are the principal provisions:
- In levying troops (article 5 of the law of compulsory military service) the individuals registered are called into service according to categories of ages, commencing with the youngest, and in each of these categories in the order of numbers drawn by lot in the conscription. The same method is used in calling out troops of the first ban destined to re-enforce the standing army. Individuals registered as liberés (free) of the reserve of the army and navy will be taken in the first, second, third, and fourth ban of troops, according to the length of their absences after discharge, namely, those whose absences have been of less than a year’s duration in the first ban, of one to two years in the second, two to three years in the third, and of more than three years (if the individual should be under the age of forty years) for the fourth. The number of men necessary to constitute the different portions is decided by imperial order. The calls for re-enforcement of the standing army are determined by an ukase to the directing senate. [Page 465]The duty of dividing the levy among the governments belongs to the minister of war, and of the subdivisions of the levy of each government or province to the recruiting commission of such governments or provinces. In case of a call for troops each person holding a certificate of military registration must present himself to the subdivision from which he received it. Exemptions from service embrace those persons designated in article 24 of the regulations for compulsory military service, as well as teachers in educational establishments. (Article 63, p. 3, of said regulations.)
- The calling out of troops and the formations of the Corps de la Milice must be effected with the least possible delay, without exceeding the period of twenty-eight days after receipt of the order for the levy. The troops are composed into battalions of infantry, squadrons of cavalry, and naval crews. The first two classes are called by governments and by provinces, and the last class at points fixed by the minister of the navy. The troops of each government will be placed under the orders of a chief, who will be assisted by an administration. Choice for the posts of officers will be made in each government by the zemstvo, and notice of such selection furnished to the minister of war. The chiefs of troops of governments, as well as those of the infantry battalions and cavalry squadrons, are to be confirmed in their functions by supreme order. Nomination of officers for ships’ crews is reserved to the navy department.
- There will be admitted to service as chiefs of troops of governments and provinces and as commandants of detachments and companies, individuals in the effective forces ranking as officers and who have completed the term of service required in the reserve of the army and navy. Detachments and companies once formed will be reviewed by the military chief of the place, and when recognized as fit to take the field, notice of it will be given to the staff by chiefs of governments and provinces; from such time these troops will be under jurisdiction of the war department. Sailors making part of the force raised will report to the navy department on arrival at the place designated for their assembly.
- Men forming part of the levy as officers or in inferior grades will enjoy all rights’ belonging to the regular service, and will be under military law. On his entry into the service each soldier receives a distinctive sign (signe) visible at the range of a musket. Rights of officers as to command are fixed in the following manner comparatively with grades and duties of the regular army: The chief commander of a government or a province corresponds in grade to a major-general, and in duties to chief of division; commander of a detachment to a lieutenant-colonel, with the duties of a battalion commandant; commander of a cavalry company to a major, with prerogatives of a chief of squadron. Those persons who, while possessing the necessary conditions to fill the posts of officers, shall not have been chosen, are not compelled to enter the service against their wills as soldiers, but form part of the reserve to fill vacancies among the officers in these levies and in the army. Soldiers free (liberés) of the reserve of the army and navy will be in these levies under similar conditions with those who remain in the regular service beyond the required term. All combatants have the right to wear uniforms conforming to the rule for regular forces. Individuals doing duty as civil officers keep their appointments in spite of being called upon for military service and are reinstated after their discharge.
- All arrangements for the levy and for the formation of the parties composing it will be in charge of committees of the government, the province, the district, and the urbain of recruitment. They will be careful, to this end, to array registers conformably to instructions jointly approved by the minister of the interior and the minister of war, and also a special list of individuals who may be chosen as officers. The plan of forming the levies of governments and provinces is presented by these administrations at an expedient time to the staff.
- All expenses for victualing, maintenance, and moving combatants of the first ban called out to re-enforce the army and the navy will be a charge against the treasury. As to other parts of the levy, the Crown furnishes the arms, munitions, and complete maintenance from the day of their entry within the jurisdiction of the war and navy departments to that of disbanding. The duties of the zemstvos comprise equipping the troops (excepting with arms and munitions), acquiring horses, arranging for forage, field medical dispensaries, and the maintenance and billeting of the soldiers, whether individually or by companies, until the day of their coming under the jurisdiction of the war or navy departments. To meet these expenses the zemstvo may borrow the funds to expend, and in default of these the finance minister opens credit for the sums, repayment of which “may be deferred three to six years.
- Disbanding of the levies is promulgated by an ukase to the directing senate. Maintenance at the expense of the Crown continues until the day of the arrival home of soldiers forming part of the regular army; and as to the other troops, until they reach the place of disbanding. Their final return to their homes is at the expense of the zemstvo.
- Individuals who screen themselves from the call during the delay noted, without proper cause, are amenable to the penalties provided by article 146 of the regulations for compulsory military service, and if discovered after disbanding of the troops will suffer a penalty of imprisonment from four to eight months.