Sunday, March 3, 2013

March 4, 1863 (Friday): Finding A Replacement for "Grumble" Jones

General W. E. Jones

HEADQUARTERS, Fredericksburg, March 4, 1863.
Honorable JAMES A. SEDDON, Secretary of War, Richmond, Va.:
     SIR: I have received your letter of the 26th ultimo, directing General W. E. Jones to be relieved from the command of the District of the Shenandoah Valley. I will make the change your order as soon as circumstances will permit.
     I think it most judicious to change the cavalry brigades with their commanders, sending General Fitz. Lee's into the Valley with him, and bringing General Jones' east of the mountains. As General Fitz. Lee is now posted on the enemy's right flank, watching his movements, I shall have to replace him, or send forward a cavalry expedition before he can be withdrawn.

    I beg leave to say, in justice to General Jones, that I do not know that under the circumstances, with his force and that opposed to him, any one would have done better. General Fitz. Lee is an excellent cavalry officer, and is extremely useful in his present position. I do not know how I can spare him upon the resumption of active operations, as I feel at liberty to call upon him and General W. H. F. Lee on all occasions. General Hampton, the senior brigadier of cavalry, and an officer of standing and gallantry, might answer better.
     General Jones' brigade is that formerly commanded by General Ashby. It has always served in the Valley, and, I believe, is organized of men principally from that region. The only way of retaining the brigade there would be to transfer General Jones to an infantry brigade, and appoint Colonel Wickham or Colonel Munford to its command.
     General Milroy is reported to have under his command 15,000 men, stationed at Harper's Ferry, Martinsburg, Winchester, Romney, and New Creek. General Jones' force is not more than sufficient to restrain marauding.
    I have the honor to be, with great respect, your obedient servant,

    R. E. LEE,

Official Records, series I., Vol. 25, Part 2, Page 654.

Jones would have to remain a while longer in the Valley, despite political pressure being place on the Davis administration to remove him.  "Grumble" Jones was an able officer, but short tempered and ill disposed to interact in a congenial manner.  The alternatives mentioned were not practical.  It would have not have been a move welcomed by Hampton (as suggested by Lee) and Lee and Stuart did not want to see Fitz Lee dispatched.  Ultimately Munford would end up in the Valley, but at a later date.

No comments:

Post a Comment