ional Army should be relieved from command after a battle, banished for months from the field, and reduced in his rank upon vague allegations made by another officer, the investigation of which has been constantly refused, either because the commander-in-chief regards them as frivolous or because the officer making them shrinks from subjecting them to the trying ordeal of a court.
Permit me to return my hearty acknowledgements for the flattering expressions in your letter and to assure you that I am deeply grateful for your uniform kindness and courtesy.
Having replied to your letter of the 4th instant, it is my duty to state that I have not yet assumed command under General Beauregard. I have received but one communication from you in reference to duty at Charleston. This is your letter of the 16th of February. I have construed it into tender of service and not a peremptory order of assignment to duty. My reasons are twofold: First, my commission as lieutenant-general did not expire until the adjournment of Congress, on the 18th of February, and an order to me to serve as a major-general could not be legally issued till I was one de facto. You yourself felt this embarrassment, as your letter is not addressed to me either as major-general or lieutenant-general. Second, you use in the letter of the 16th of February the following language: "The President has directed me to offer you service as a major-general," &c. Under the above construction of your letter, I have twice by telegram and three times by letter, declined the position tendered until the promise give me of an expression of undiminished confidence was complied with. My objection to entering on duty without this expression has been repeatedly stated as arising from a conviction that the interest of the service would be prejudiced by my assuming command over troops whose confidence in me had been impaired by the severe treatment I have received. But while regard for the good of my country and my own sense of propriety have constrained me to decline a proffered command, I have always held myself ready to obey any order of my superiors. If the Department then takes the responsibility under all the circumstances of the case of a peremptory assignment to duty, I shall, of course, yield a prompt compliance.
As I have been kept now for six weeks in a painful and embarrassing state of suspense, I trust that you may b able to get from His Excellency the President an early decision in the matter, without interfering with his attention to more important affairs. Failing to receive the order, I will consider myself at liberty to return to my home.
With renewed assurances of my high regard, I remain, your obedient servant,
D. H. HILL,
APRIL 20, 1864.
Respectfully submitted to the President.
Adjutant and Inspector General.
APRIL 23, 1864.
If General Hill does not willingly accept the offer of command, it is not deemed well for the service to force him to such high and responsible duty as that proposed.
74 R R-VOL XLII, PT III