War of the Rebellion: Serial 005 Page 0920 OPERATIONS IN MD., N. VA., AND W. VA. Chapter XIV.

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you will favor us with your good offices in securing the full colonelcy for Ashby. A part of his present force is militia, and they are commanded by full colonels, who ranks Ashby, which makes some difficulty always, and which was the source of a serious trouble to Ashby in his fight at Harper's Ferry on Wednesday last which I myself had occasion to notice there.

I am, most respectfully, your obedient servant,.


RICHMOND, VA., October 25, 1861.


MY DEAR GENERAL: Your letter of October 20 and 21 have just been referred to me, * and I hasten to reply, without consulting the Secretary of War. This enables me to say, without connecting his expressions of feeling with the present cause, that you have alike his admiration and high personal regard, evinced by so many signs that it cannot be to me a matter of doubt. As the essence of offense is the motive with which words are spoken, I have thus, it is hoped, removed the gravest part of the transaction.

You were unquestionably wrong in the order to recruit a company for the Provisional Army. The Congress, with jealous care, reserved to the men of such companies the power of selecting their own offices. The Executive could not recruits a company except for the Regular Army, and as provided by law; to that extent he could delegate his power to generals in the field, but he cold not do more. I presume the objection was not that it was to be a rocket battery, but was to the recruiting of a company for special service, the commander having been selected, not by the men, but the Confederate authority. More than half the controversies between men arise from difference of education and habits of thought. The letter in relation to the law or organization was written like a lawyer, and had it been addressed to one of that profession would not probably have wounded his sensibilities, except in so far as to provoke debate upon the accuracy of his position; but it was addressed to a soldier, sensitive as to the propriety of his motives, and careless about the point which I am sure the Secretary intended alone to present, inattention to, or misconstruction of, the laws governing the case. He desired that you position should be entirely satisfactory to you, and that the freest scope should be given for the exercise of your genius and gallantry in the further maintenance of the cause which amid the smoke and blaze of battle you have three times illustrated. Prompted by that desire, he anticipated my purpose, which had been communicated to him, to place you in the immediate command of the Army of the Potomac, by referring to an order which would soon be issued and which he hoped would be satisfactory to you.

Now, my dear sir, let me entreat you to dismiss this small matter from your mind. In the hostile masses before you, you have a subject more worthy of your contemplation. Your country needs all of your mind and of your heart. You have given cause to expect all which man can do, and your fame and her interests require that your energies should have a single object. My prayers always attend you, and, with confidence, I turn to you in the hour of peril.

Very truly, your friend,


P. S.-The Secretary has not seen your letter, and I will not inform him as to this correspondence.


*Not found. .