Monday, January 20, 2014

January 17, 1864 (Saturday): A Question of Command

General Samuel Jones

Dublin, January 17, 1864.
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General, C. S. Army:
    GENERAL: On the 6th of September last, under instructions from the War Department, I assumed command of that portion of South-western Virginia embraced in the Department of East Tennessee and all the forces east of Knoxville belonging to that department, and continued to exercise command in that department until, in the course of military operations, Lieutenant-General Longstreet came with his command east of Knoxville. Whilst I was exercising that command the former commander of the department, Major-General Buckner, ordered a number of the officers of the Department of East Tennessee to report to me, among them the military court, medical director, and inspector-general of cavalry of his department. They did so, and have been, and are now, acting under my orders. The Secretary of War has informed me that Lieutenant-General Longstreet having come within the Department of East Tennessee, as a matter of course, commands that department by virtue of his superior rank. But no order having been issued relieving me from the command, all the departmental business is still referred to me. If Lieutenant-General Longstreet is in command of the Department of East Tennessee, I respectfully ask that it may be so announced in orders, and that all officers of that department who have reported to me be ordered to report to Lieutenant-General Longstreet.
     Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

     SAM. JONES,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 33, Part 1, Page 1092.

Longstreet was in command of the region he inhabited by virtue of rank, but he likely had little interest in the adminstrative tasks which went with departmental command, his staff being occupied with maintaining an army in the field.  Jones' relations with Longstreet were not entirely cordial in any event.  It seems at this point in the war nobody knew exactly what use was to be made of Longstreet and his command.  The general himself desired to return to the Army of Northern Virginia, believing Richmond had ignored his suggestions for the area and, therefore, he could best be utilized with Lee's army.  Jones service is little known to history, but his command included defense of the vital salt works in the region and he was, by and large, a capable administrator.

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