Friday, October 7, 2011

October 7, 1861 (Monday): Longstreet and Jackson Make Major-General

General Thomas J. Jackson
RICHMOND, October 7, 1861.

          Headquarters Army of the Potomac:
   GENERAL: I have had a conference with the President since his return on the subject of the organization of the Army of the Potomac, as recommended in your letter of the 28th ultimo,* and not received till after his departure for your headquarters..
    The President cannot persuade himself that the number of generals of all grades recommenced by the joint letter of yourself, General Beauregard, and Major-General Smith can be necessary for the number of troops now forming the Army of the Potomac. The inconvenience of so large an accession of general officers in the service would be felt in more than one way. Not the least of the subjection is that it could not be accorded without revolting injustice to the Army of the Potomac alone. Of necessity we should be compelled to make similar appointments in each of the other armies and military department,s and by this vast increase not only heaped the value of military rank, but augment the expenses of the war at a moment when its hourly increasing proportions admonish us that the most rigid economy is required.
    In view of all the facts and circumstances, the President has concluded that an addition to your army of two major-generals and two or three brigadier-generals will afford you as much assistance as could reasonably be required, and he had directed the promotion of Brigadier-Generals Longstreet and Jackson to the rank Longstreet and Jackson to the rank of majors-general. Your army will then have as general officers two generals; four major-generals of provisional army, namely, Van Dorn, Smith, Longstreet, and Jackson; thirteen brigadier-generals, namely, Bonham, Clark, Walker, Ewell, Jones, Kirby Smith, Toombs, Crittenden, Sam Jones, Whiting, Elzey, Early, and Stuart. Total, nineteen general officers, to whom will be necessary to appoint after you shall have made the changes recommended by the President in uniting the troops from each State as far as possible into the same brigades and divisions, so as to gratify the natural State pride of the men, and keep up that healthful and valuable emulation which forms so important an element in military affairs. The whole number of general officers will not state the number as matter of prudence, but you can make the calculation, and I feel sure you will admit that it is thus as fully officers will thus be about twenty-two in an army of--thousand men. I will not state the number as matter of prudence, but you can make the calculation, and I feel sure you will admit that it is thus as fully officered as armies generally are, and certainly more fully than any army we have in the field.
   Please to communicate this answer to Generals Beauregard and Smith, who joined in singing your letter to the Department.
    Your obedient servant,

Acting Secretary of War.

Official Records, Series I, Vol. 5, Page 892

What a curious collection the Confederate army in Northern Virginia was in October of 1861.  Joseph Johnston sulked over his relative standing among the generals of the Confederacy.  Beauregard joined in asking for even more generals in an army which could not have numbered much over 50,000 men, if that.  James Longstreet, offended at the promotions of G.W. Smith and Earl Van Dorn to Major-General, has threatened resignation.  And Smith, once promoted, signs a circular to the administration (not found) signs a letter with Johnston and Beauregard asking for more generals.  Longstreet's pen, and loyalty to Johnston, here finds its reward while Jackson is given his for his role at Manassas.  Davis and Benjamin helpfully acquiesce in this proliferation of generals, even while trying to limit it.  The army is left with two full generals and four major-generals to command a mere thirteen brigadier generals.  With no plans for action, one can only imagine what conceivable use could be made for so much gold braid.

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