quires the selection of the best men to fill vacant positions. It is on this principle that I applied for General Heth for one of your brigades, and Colonel Alexander for another. On the same principle many valuable officers have been lost to this army, but I think the general service has gained. I do not think it right, however, at any time to pass over worthy men who have done good service, unless you can get better. I thought that Captain Chew's battery belonged to the Cavalry Brigade. It is so reported, and I do not see it among the battalions of artillery of your corps. This would give you an additional battery to those enumerated.
I am, with great respect, truly yours,
R. E. LEE,
HEADQUARTERS SECOND CORPS, February 28, 1863.
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 riling 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