HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, March 1, 1865.
Lieutenant Colonel T. S. BOWERS, Assistant Adjutant-General:
COLONEL: I find on my return the inclosed telegram* from the lieutenant-general commanding, and consider it due to myself to lay before him the following statement of facts:
Under the call made by me upon corps and subordinate commanders for nominations for brevet for distinguished and gallant services in the field on the recent campaign, Brigadier-General Potter, commanding division in the Ninth Corps, thought proper to present the name of Captain McKibbin, assistant adjutant-general, for the successive brevets of major, lieutenant-colonel, colonel, and brigadier-general. Owing to the large number of officers recommended, and relying on my subordiate officers not abusing the privilege given them to make nominations, par5ticularly as the circular making the call cautioned them to present no names but such as had claerly earned the rewards proposed, I did not critically inspect the list, but forwarded it to the Department of War, and it was not until the appointments were made and distributed that my attention was called to the extraordinary and, as I think, improper use General Potter had made of this privilege. Upon learning the state of the case I communicated, verbally, my views to General Potter, and stated to him, while I would refrain from asking the Department to cancel the two higher grades conferred, as I conceived improperly, yet I should not approve, and would resist this officer being assigned to duty with his grade of brigadier-general, I understanding General Potter's action to be predicated on his desire to obtain this officer for a brigade commander.
Accordingly, when General Potter applied for this officer to be assigned to duty with his rank as brigadier-general, I disapproved the application. Subsequently, on Captain McKibbin beign confirmed by the Senate, General Potter, notwithstanding my expressed views and action in the matter, renewed his application, wh8ich was forwarded to Washington disapproved by me for the reasons given above. Now, I find during my absence, and without any opportunity given me to explain my position, General Potter has thought proper, through some unofficial channel, to bring the case to the atention of the lieutenant-general commanding, and has obtained the decision in his favor. I respectfully submit that the whole of General Potter's course is not consistent with the respect due to me as his commanding general, and I feel quite satisfied, had all the facts of the case ben made known to the lieutenant-general commanding, he would have awaited explanation of my action before deciding agasinst me. My objections to the assignment of this officer to a brigade are, first, the improper manner in which his appointment was procured; second, the injustice to this army which will be done by assigning a staff officer thus elevate4d to the command of troops when there are at least six, if not more, brevet brigadier-generals who have been promoted for gallantry whilst commanding brigades and regiments, and who are now awaiting assignment to commands. In making these objecdtions I am not governed by any personal considerations, for I have no knowledge of Captain McKibbin beyond what I have obtained n the progress of this affair, and have no reason to dispute General Potter's opinion that he is an officer of merit and would make a good brigade commander. My objections are to the modus operandi, the injustice to other officers, and the injury to the whole brevet system which will result from its successful accomplishment.
*See Bowers to Parke, February 27, received 11.30 a. m., p. 718.