Wednesday, February 27, 2013

February 28, 1863 (Monday): Jackson on Incompetent Officers

Stapleton Crutchfield (Jackson's Artillery Chief)

General R. E. LEE:
GENERAL: In your letter of yesterday you say:
    In reply to your letter of the 19th, I regret I do not concur altogether with the principle there laid down regulating claims to promotion. I think the interest of the service, as well as justice to individuals, requires the selection of the best men to fill vacant positions.
     I am well satisfied that there is nothing in my letter in opposition to this rule. On the contrary, my rule has been to recommend such as were, in my opinion, best qualified for filling vacancies. The application of this rule has prevented me from even recommending for the command of my old brigade one of its own officers, because I did not regard any of them as competent as another, of whose qualifications I had a higher opinion. This rule has led me to recommend Colonel Bradley T. Johnson for the command of Taliaferro's brigade.       You further say, referring to the above quotation:
     It is on this principle that I applied for General Heth for one of your brigades, and Colonel Alexander for another.
     I approved of Colonel Alexander's recommendation, as my indorsement on General Early's recommendation will show. From what you have said respecting General Heth, I have been desirous that he should report for duty.
     I desire the interest of the service, and no other interest, to determine who shall be selected to fill vacancies. Guided by this principle, I cannot go outside of my command for persons to fill vacancies in it, unless by so doing a more competent officer is secured. This same principle leads me to oppose having officers, who have never served with me, and of whose qualifications I have no knowledge, forced upon me by promoting them to fill vacancies in my command, and advancing them over meritorious officers well qualified for the positions, and of whose qualifications I have had ample opportunity of judging from their having served with me.
    In my opinion, the interest of the service would be injured if I should quietly consent to see officers with whose qualifications I am not acquainted promoted into my command to fill vacancies, regardless of the merit of my own officers who are well qualified for the positions. The same principle leads me, when selections have to be made outside of my command, to recommend those (if there be such) whose former service with me proved them well qualified for filling the vacancies. This induced me to recommend Captain Chew, who does not belong to this army corps, but whose well-earned reputation when with me has not been forgotten. As I hold my chief of artillery responsible for the efficiency of his artillery, I feel it my duty to let him select his own officers, so far as I may be able to favor such selections, ever having in view the selection of the best qualified.
     In a recent letter I stated to you that Colonel Crutchfield might receive such favorable information respecting the health of Captain Brockenbrough as to render it advisable to recommend his promotion instead of Chew's. Last evening I received a note from Colonel Crutchfield, favoring the promotion of Brockenbrough, and I respectfully recommend that he be promoted to a majority, and assigned to the same battalion with Major Jones, and hope that Captain Barnwell will not be promoted into the artillery of my corps. I know nothing of his qualifications.
     I have had much trouble resulting from incompetent officers having been assigned to duty with me regardless of my wishes. Those who assigned them have never taken the responsibility of incurring the odium which results from such incompetency.
     I am, general, your obedient servant,

    T. J. JACKSON,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 25, Part 2, Pages 645-646.

Had this letter been in regard to promotions into regimental or brigade infantry commands in the Second Corp it would be somewhat understandable.  But here Jackson is in high dungeon over promotions for a major and two captains into Jackson's artillery.  In a letter Jackson had Stapleton Crutchfield (his chief of artillery) draft to him, he makes objections to the three men not for any particular reason beyond that they had not served directly for him and he had insufficient knowledge of them.  It may well be Jackson was driven by a concern for morale within his artillery units, but it also may well have been his expectations for officers in his command were high and his discipline strict and he did not wish to acquire officers not familiar with his frame of mind.


No comments:

Post a Comment