HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF WEST MISSISSIPPI,
New Orleans, July 30, 1864.
General Orders, No. 31.
I. All able-bodied males, between the ages of eighteen and forty-five, within the lines of occupation in the Departments of Arkansas and the Gulf and the district east of the Mississippi River, will immediately be enrolled in the service, in the militia. Neutral foreigners not being subject to compulsory military service, will be enrolled as a separate class, to be employed whenever necessary as a local police or constabulary force.
II. Commanders of districts will establish special commissions to hear and determine all claims for exemption from military service on account of alien age or physical disability. The plea of alienage will not be admitted if the claimant has at any time exercised the right of citizenship under any State or municipal law, or has at any time been in the service of the rebel Government or in that of any one of the States in rebellion. When any person enrolled in the militia has established his plea of alienage, his name will be transferred to the enrollment of police purposes. Any person who may be found physically disqualified for field service, but fit for garrison duty, will be transferred to the battalions to be organized for local service, and no exemptions will be made except in cases of absolute disability.
III. Commanders of departments and districts will establish such regulations as may be necessary for the execution of this order and determine the circumstances under which this force shall be called into service and the place and manner in which it shall be employed.
IV. Deserters from the enemy will not be enrolled for compulsory service, but may be enlisted or employed in the army. Particular care must be observed in cases of all persons claiming to be deserters, and if any doubt exists as to their true character, they will, according to the circumstances of the case, be enrolled and held as spies or prisoners of war or sent beyond the limits of this command, but not into the rebel lines.
V. Hereafter no person who is subject to the rebel conscription laws will be sent or allowed to go within the rebel lines. If engaged in giving aid and comfort to the enemy, either directly or indirectly, or otherwise conducting themselves as enemies of the Government, they will be tried for these offenses, held as prisoners of war, or sent beyond the limits of this command.
VI. The practice of permitting persons in the rebel service to send their families within our lines for greater safety and comfort has prevailed to a great extent at some points within the limits of this command. Hereafter all such persons will be turned back at the picket-lines, or, if they have made their way through them, will be sent back.
VII. Refugees in good faith will be received and kindly treated. If destitute their wants will be supplied, as far as the means under the control of the commanding officer will permit. They cannot, however, be allowed to remain in or about any fort or garrison where their presence would embarrass military operations, and in all cases will be furnished transportation to Cairo, Ill., and subsistence for the voyage. The commanding officer at that place will make necessary arrangements for the purpose of receiving and caring for these persons, aiding them in securing employment, and indicating to relief association such of them as may be in need of assistance.
VIII. Whenever it may be necessary or expedient to send beyond the lines persons indicated in section 6, the commander of the district will determine the time and route by which they are to be sent, and will cause them to be collected and sent under suitable conduct. The practice of giving such persons passes, and allowing them to select their own route and time, is productive of evil, and is prohibited.
By order of Maj. Gen. E. R. S. Canby,
C. T. CHRISTENSEN,
Major and Assistant Adjutant-General.