Department of War permits Major-General Butler to persist in his present course of action, which prevented Massachusetts from participation in the expedition to Port Royal in the manner she had expected and others had expected of her, which has retarded and confused the enlistments of no less than ten of the regiments of the State, and which has demoralized the entire recruiting service in this portion of the country.
WASHINGTON, D. C., January 11, 1862.
Governor JOHN A. ANDREW,
I will be greatly obliged if you will arrange somehow with General Butler to officer his two unofficered regiments.
EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT, Boston, January 11, 1862.
The PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:
SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your telegram of to-day stating your desire that some arrangement shall be made by which I may organize with officers the troops which have been illegally collected in this State by Major-General Butler, and in reply I beg to repeat what I wrote to the Secretary of War on December 28, that if the Federal Government wishes me to organize these men into companies and regiments and to appoint and commission officers, and shall so request and issue orders accordingly, difficult and thankless as will be the task, I will nevertheless undertake it, and I should pay the respect to any recommendations of Major-General Butler due to his rank and position. But I must frankly say that there are names which I perceive he would be likely to propose to me of persons whom I could not in conscience appoint, and whom to commission would offend both my sense of honor and of duty. In the sphere of my proper subordination, obedience is my pleasure as well as my duty; but in the sphere of my proper and lawful discretion, although limited and inferior, I must use such discretion cautiously and respectfully, but with firmness and fidelity, and the choice of officers is a duty not simply ministerial, but discretionary and judicial as to their character and qualifications. Major-General Butler's proceedings in Massachusetts in respect to recruitment have been altogether lawless, in violation especially of General Orders, Numbers 78, of the War Department, of the series of 1861, and have been conducted with both official and personal contempt toward the government of this Commonwealth. This has been permitted by the General Government, notwithstanding representations of the facts to the Adjutant-General of the Army and to the Secretary of War, for which I beg to refer you to the files of the War Department, mentioning especially my letters to the Secretary of October 6 and December 28, and to the Adjutant-General of November 27 and December 27.
In an ordinary time such insult by an officer of the Federal Government, and such neglect by that Government to check its continuance or prevent its repetition, would have demanded public remonstrance. In a time like this it is the duty of every citizen to bear whatever can be borne consistently with honor, and I have been silent toward the public, trusting that the Federal Government would at last discontinue