possessed of the circumstances and needs of your position, I have feared I would rather embarrass than aid or facilitate you by such more general communications. I preferred, under the general expressions and manifestations I had heretofore given of the appreciation and confidence of the Department, to leave matters very much to be regulated by your own experience, better knowledge, and sound discretion, and to content myself with giving to your measures and administration a liberal support and sanction. I believe this to be at once a juste and wiser course of action than to attempt to anticipate your needs or the events transpiring in your department and to give instructions which may only prove impracticable or injudicious of execution.
In this spirit I advised against the appointment of an Assistant Secretary of War for the Trans-Mississippi Department, because, thought even intended to be subordinate to you, the very name might engender suspicions or give color of a disturbing authority, which, in doubtful circumstances, might prove mischievous. My own judgment was and is that you should, in your capacity as commander of the department, combine with your strictly military duties somewhat of that relation (as far as our Constitution allows) to the Department and the President.
In this spirit I have sought, too, as you will see in my official report, to give all the support and sanction I properly could to your administration. I have availed myself of Major Bryan's present to confer with him fully on this and other points in connection with your department, and he will elucidate any matter in which I must be necessarily brief. As I have explained to him, there is one subject on which it will be expedient you should be as careful and abstinent as the imperative needs of your department will allow. It is on the delicate subject os assignments and appointments to office and command. These, under our constition system, are reposed in the President as a personal trust, the responsibility of which is fully realized by him, and which he cannot transfer. Whenever it be practicable, previous recommendations, with full explanations of the grounds and of duties or commands for which the officers are intended, had better be forwarded, and when this cannot be done and the officers are at once necessary, no time should be lost in transmitting, the names and the reasons that have compelled your action. I appreciate, as you will feel, the importance of having your recommendations in such cases sanctioned, and hence the more necessary for this line of action. You will, in illustration of my remarks, learn that the President has not, without fuller information of the forces and military organizations you have in the field, fell authorized to make many of the military promotions of general officers you have recently recommended. He has only appointed two major-generals (Polignac and Fagan), and has deferred others, as also the brigadiers, mainly on the ground that, with the force appearing from the returns, you cannot have appropriate divisions and brigades for the general officers already in your department and those recommended likewise.
It did not appear that you had a total aggregate in the department of more than 54,000, and a present effective force of more than 31,000, and he thought you had already brigadiers enough for brigades numbering little more than 1,000, and, with the addition of the two major-generals, certainly a full complement of division officers. If any of the existing officers have proved themselves incomplete