HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
In the Field, near Atlanta, Ga., August 5, 1864.
At the Front:
I have communicated to General Thomas the substance of our former notes and messages, and have received the following reply by telegraph:
I regret to hear that Palmer has taken the course he has, and, as I know he intends to offer his resignation as soon as he can properly do so I recommend that his application be granted.
Now, if General Schofield has a major-general's commission going back to equal date with yours, though confirmed subsequent, with retroactive effect, he ranks you by reason of former superior commission, and if you resign because you measure your number of men as greater than his, and your services in battle as giving your greater right to command, you commit the mistake of substituting your own individual opinion over the established law and military usage. The special assignment of General Schofield to the command of a separate army and department shows that he enjoys the confidence of the President, even above his mere lineal rank. If you want to resign, wait a few days and allege some other reason--one that will stand the test of time. Your future is too valuable to be staked on a mistake. Your case clearly falls under an old Article of War: "When two or more commands happen together, the officer highest in rank commands the whole." General Schofield ranks you by his commission, and it would not do for military men to discuss the nice question of how far back the President and Senate may give effect to a commission. I again ask you not to disregard the friendly advice of such men as General Thomas and myself, for you cannot misconstrue our friendly feelings toward you.
I am, &c.,
W. T. SHERMAN,
HEADQUARTERS FOURTEENTH ARMY CORPS,
August 5, 1864--12.30 p. m.
Major General W. T. SHERMAN,
GENERAL: Your note by courier and duplicate by telegraph have just reached me. I assure you I am unaffectedly grateful to you for the personal direction this correspondence is assuming and for your friendly expressions toward me. I beg to assure you that I am of opinion that the ultimate decision of the question under discussion is not as free from doubt as you seen to suppose, but there are arguments more potent than even would be the certainty that I was right in my construction of the law. These are, that possibly my withdrawal from command might occasion inconvenience, and that the friendly advice of yourself and General Thomas is against me. For these reasons I request that pending active operations my application to be relieved be regarded as withdrawn.
JOHN M. PALMER,