August 27, 1864.
Respectfully submitted to the honorable Secretary of War.
I know of no obloquy or censure cast upon the men or officers of Barton's brigade. General George H. Steuart has been assigned to its command.
R. E. LEE,
SEPTEMBER 1, 1864.
Steps are being taken to have General Barton's case properly disposed of. No other action on these papers is deemed necessary at present.
J. A. SEDDON.
Respectfully submitted to the President, with the opinion of the Adjutant and Inspector General and various papers in the case of Brigadier-General Barton.
The Department does not concur with General Bragg in the opinion he has given as to the present relation of Brigadier-General Barton to the service. The act February 17, 1864, to provide for retiring officers from the army, does not give to a general the power to discharge an officer and to impose upon him the necessity of appearing before an examination board, as is supposed. The President may discharge an officer under that act upon the recommendation of a general in the field commanding an army or a department commander. No recommendation has been made no such order. General Barton has no claim for an examination board, nor under an obligation to ask for one. General Ransom and General Barton were both acting under General Beauregard, and in general Beauregard's department, when General Ransom relived General Barton from his command. General Ransom was not in the condition to make the recommendation prescribed by the act aforesaid; but the case as presented does not show the case mentioned by the statue. The case presented in the act is incompetency or inefficiency, not on a particular occasion or under special circumstances, but such general incompetency or inefficiency as to authorize a general commanding to recommend, and the President to direct, a discharge from the army. The question for the President to determine is, whether upon the proofs submitted Brigadier-General Barton is entitled to be returned to his command, or whether he should have a court of inquiry or be tried before a military court.
For Secretary of War:
J. A. CAMPBELL,
Assistant Secretary of War.
SECRETARY OF WAR:
Please review this statement as well of fact as the operation of the law referred to. Had or had not General Ransom a separate