Tuesday, November 1, 2011

October 27, 1861 (Sunday): The Van Dorn Question

General Samuel Cooper, Adjutant-General, CS Army
CENTREVILLE, October 25, 1861.

General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General, Richmond:
GENERAL: I have had the honor to receive a copy of General Orders, Numbers 15 [October 22].
Under that order all the cavalry of this army is to belying to the First Division, Major-General Van Dorn's. I beg this arrangement may be reconsidered by the administration. All the cavalry of the army is now employed on outpost duty. The office at the head of that service (Brigadier-General Stuart) should be under the immediate orders of the commander of the army, and make his reports to and receive his instructions from him. In like manner, in battle, the commanding general must keep under his own control the largest portion of the cavalry, so that General Van Dorn's division would actually become the weakest in the army, although he is the senior major-general, with high reputation. Should the cavalry be placed with a division of infantry, it must be kept out of position, either for its daily service of observing the enemy or to play its part in battle. Its pickets now cover a front of some 20 miles. To collect its regiments in a division on the right flank of the line would produce great inconvenience, while the loss of time in reporting to the general of division instead of to the commanding general might lead to disaster. For these reasons I respectfully suggest hat the cavalry brigade be not included in any division, but left under the immediate orders of the commanding general, and that the First Division be increased by an equal force of infantry.
I regret very much that we have not cavalry enough to give Major January E. Van. Dorn a division of troops of that arm.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Johnston had opposed the promotion to Major-General of Van Dorn and G.W. Smith and was not inclined to assist in providing a command for Van Dorn.  Both Johnston and Beauregard had incessently petitioned Davis and the War Department for more officers of rank than they could possibly utilize.  Having secured the promotion of Longstreet and Jackson to Major-General subsequent to the addition of Van Dorn and Smith, the Army had too many generals for the size of the Army.  In addition Stuart had, through tireless effort, made a name for himself handling the very cavalry which were to be given Van Dorn.  The reason for the transfer of these troops to Van Dorn was a lack of infantry to give him sufficient command for his rank.  In January of 1862 these machinations bore fruit with Van Dorn's transfer to the Trans-Mississippi Department.

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