Now, then, to prevent subordinates from being oppressed by their superiors, the superior is not allowed to order a court against a subordinate's wish, but must ask the President leave so to do; but it by no means follows that therefore the subordinate has a right to have a court directed by the President at his request, or that the President, if he directs the court, will not direct it to be ordered by the superior. Therefore, understanding from your note that you desired a court of inquiry, that request was promptly granted you. The phrase in your note of the 12th is:
It only remains for me to deny respectfully, but emphatically, the charges therein set against me, to request a copy of the orders I have destroyed or failed to obey, and then to demand of the President a court of inquiry to investigate all my official acts while serving in this department. I court a full investigation into the part I have taken in the campaign here.
It is submitted that no man reading that sentence, especially with the context, would fail to find a request for a court as soon as you are furnished a copy of the orders. To that the commanding general replied, "You knew what your orders were," and I pointed out to you wherein it was thought they were not obeyed. This was done with sufficient minuteness at least to give you notice of the particulars in which your conduct was deemed censurable. Then, again a request to have all your conduct inquired into includes, of course, a request to have a part thereof inquired into; and it may be very proper to grant a part of that request, while one is obliged to refuse another part of it. It, therefore, cannot be said that a request to have all inquired into is not a request to have any given part inquired into.
Whether you behaved well or ill on the 16th of May near Chesterfield, for instance, can in no way illustrate or determine the fact whether you behaved well or ill near Petersburg on the 9th of June following, in another distinct an diverse operation. The commanding general already explained to you that not having received any official report of your action, he could [not], nor ought the President, nor, in his belief, would the President, order any court of inquiry upon all the official conduct of General Gillmore not yet officially reported, except to inquire, possibly, why General Gillmore had not made his official report earlier.
If you request a court of inquiry it will be granted. If you do not request a court of inquiry you will say so, and the commanding general will give it his most attentive consideration whether or not you should be holden to your former request; and, therefore, a categorical answer is desired to this question: Do you, or do you not, wish a court of inquiry upon your report of the operations of the 8th, 9th, and 10th of June, and the commanding general's indorsement?
If you do not, such action will be taken as the commanding general may be advise the good of the public service demands. If you do, as is already stated, it will be granted you; but you are earnestly desired to disabuse yourself of the idea that the question whether you shall or shall not have a court of inquiry into your conduct has anything to do with your being relieved from command.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. W. SHAFFER,
Colonel and Chief of Staff.