by Lieutenant-Colonel Browne to General Butler was returned because, in official correspondence on military subjects and between military men, it is customary to conform, if ot to the letter of military law (paragraph 449, last clause, Army Regulations), at least to certain conventionalities equivalent thereto.
The letter to which that was a reply was addressed to Your Excellency and therefore signed by General Butler himself as claiming to be Your Excellency's co-ordinate.
Lieutenant-Colonel Browne's letter was addressed not to the chief of staff at these headquarters, but directly to the major-general commanding the department, and even then not in his official capacity.
General Butler desires me to state, moreover, that the proprieties above discussed are herein violated only because Your Excellency's letter was received at the moment of General Butler's departure for Washington, and he was therefore unable himself to respond, as was his desire to do.
I have the honor to be, sir, Your Excellency's most obedient servant,
GEORGE C. STRONG,
Assistant Adjutant-General and Chief of Staff.
Boston, December 20, 1861.
Major GEORGE C. STRONG,
Assistant Adjutant General and Chief of Staff of Major-General Butler:
MAJOR: I am directed by His Excellency Governor Andrew to acknowledge the receipt, this evening, of your letter bearing date yesterday, and to suggest to you certain misconceptions upon which it is written:
1. With the single exception of the President of the United States, no officer or person, whether State or national, civil or military, whether temporarily sojourning or permanently residing within the limits of Massachusetts, can be recognized within such limits as the "co-ordinate" of the Governor of the Commonwealth in official dignity or rank.
You are reminded of this fact simply because His Excellency would not seem to waive a point important in our federative system, of which system the President is the sole head, without any co- ordinate, and in which the States composing it are as essential to its constitutional life as are the people themselves, each respective Governor being the official head of his own State, without any co-ordinate within his jurisdiction saving the President of the United States, who is the Federal head and the official superior of all magistrates and officers.
2. But irrespective of this fact, it appears very remarkable that a gentleman of acute perception and trained professional intellect, such as Major-General Butler has acquired by extensive experience in civil life, should quote the regulations for the Army of the United States as dictating ceremonies of official intercourse to a magistrate who is no part of that Army and not subject to its regulations, for it cannot admit of question that no regulations promulgated by the Secretary of War, and liable to constant variation, can be imperative upon the Governor of a State, who, if General Butler's assertions of law and courtesy in this respect are true, might, for the offense which General Butler alleges, be amenable to a court-martial and, as a result of its finding, be "dismissed from the service," which could only mean-be deposed from his office as Governor by the sentence of a court-martial of the Federal Army, if the theory be correct that his office is necessarily responsible to such Army Regulations.