discipline and military control. Its fiscal arrangements properly
belong to the administrative departments of the staff and to the
Treasury Department under the direction of the Secretary of War.
"49. The general of the army will watch over the economy of the
service in all that relates to the expenditure of money, supply of
arms, ordnance and ordnance stores, clothing, equipments,
camp-equipage, medical and hospital stores, barracks, quarters,
transportation, Military Academy, pay, and subsistence: in short,
everything which enters into the expenses of the military
establishment, whether personal or material. He will also see that
the estimates for the military service are based on proper data,
and made for the objects contemplated by law, and necessary to the
due support and useful employment of the army. In carrying into
effect these important duties, he will call to his counsel and
assistance the staff, and those officers proper, in his opinion, to
be employed in verifying and inspecting all the objects which may
require attention. The rules and regulations established for the
government of the army, and the laws relating to the military
establishment, are the guides to the commanding general in the
performance of his duties."
Why was this, or why was all mention of any field of duty for the
head of the army left out of the army regulations? Simply because
Jefferson Davis had a purpose, and absorbed to himself, as
Secretary of War, as General Grant well says, all the powers of
commander-in-chief. Floyd succeeded him, and the last regulations
of 1863 were but a new compilation of their orders, hastily
collected and published to supply a vast army with a new edition.
I contend that all parts of these regulations inconsistent with the
law of July 28, 1866, are repealed.
I surely do not ask for any power myself, but I hope and trust, now
when we have a military President and a military Secretary of War,
that in the new regulations to be laid before Congress next session
the functions and duties of the commander-in-chief will be so
clearly marked out and defined that they may be understood by
himself and the army at large.
I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,
W. T. SHERMAN, General.[Inclosure.]
WASHINGTON, January 29, 1866.
Hon. E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War:
From the period of the difficulties between Major-General (now
Lieutenant-General) Scott with Secretary Marcy, during the
administration of President Polk, the command of the army virtually
passed into the hands of the Secretary of War.
From that day to the breaking out of the rebellion the general-
in-chief never kept his headquarters in Washington, and could not,
consequently, with propriety resume his proper functions. To
administer the affairs of the army properly, headquarters and the
adjutant-general's office must be in the same place.
During the war, while in the field, my functions as commander of
all the armies was never impaired, but were facilitated in all
essential matters by the Administration and by the War Department.
Now, however, that the war is over, and I have brought my head-
quarters to the city, I find my present position embarrassing and,
I think, out of place. I have been intending, or did intend, to
make the beginning of the New Year the time to bring this matter
before you, with the view of asking to have the old condition of
affairs restored, but from diffidence about mentioning the matter
have delayed. In a few words I will state what I conceive to be my
duties and my place, and ask respectfully to be restored to them
The entire adjutant-general's office should be under the entire
control of the general-in-chief of the army. No orders should go
to the army, or the adjutant-general, except through the general-
in-chief. Such as require the action of the President would be
laid before the Secretary of War, whose actions would be regarded
as those of the President. In short, in my opinion, the general-
in-chief stands between the President and the army in all official
matters, and the Secretary of War is between the army (through the
general-in-chief) and the President.
I can very well conceive that a rule so long disregarded could not,
or would not, be restored without the subject being presented, and
I now do so respectfully for your consideration.
U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General.
General Belknap never answered that letter.
In August, 1870, was held at Des Moines, Iowa, an encampment of old
soldiers which I attended, en route to the Pacific, and at Omaha
received this letter:
LONG BRANCH, New Jersey, August 18,1870.
General W. T. SHERMAN.
DEAR GENERAL: Your letter of the 7th inst. did not reach Long
Branch until after I had left for St. Louis, and consequently is
just before me for the first time. I do not know what changes
recent laws, particularly the last army bill passed, make in the
relations between the general of the army and the Secretary of War.
Not having this law or other statutes here, I cannot examine the
subject now, nor would I want to without consultation with the
Secretary of War. On our return to Washington I have no doubt but
that the relations between the Secretary and yourself can be made
pleasant, and the duties of each be so clearly defined as to leave
no doubt where the authority of one leaves off and the other
My own views, when commanding the army, were that orders to the
army should go through the general. No changes should be made,
however, either of the location of troops or officers, without the
knowledge of the Secretary of War.
In peace, the general commanded them without reporting to the
Secretary farther than he chose the specific orders he gave from
time to time, but subjected himself to orders from the Secretary,
the latter deriving his authority to give orders from the
President. As Congress has the right, however, to make rules and
regalations for the government of the army, rules made by them
whether they are as they should be or not, will have to govern. As
before stated, I have not examined the recent law.
U. S. GRANT.
To which I replied:
OMAHA, NEBRASKA, September 2,1870.
General U. S. GRANT, Washington, D. C.
DEAR GENERAL: I have received your most acceptable letter of August
18th, and assure you that I am perfectly willing to abide by any
decision you may make. We had a most enthusiastic meeting at Des
Moines, and General Bellknap gave us a fine, finished address. I
have concluded to go over to San Francisco to attend the annual
celebration of the Pioneers, to be held on the 9th instant; from
there I will make a short tour, aiming to get back to St. Louis by
the 1st of October, and so on to Washington without unnecessary
Conscious of the heavy burdens already on you, I should refrain
from adding one ounce to your load of care, but it seems to me now
is the time to fix clearly and plainly the field of duty for the
Secretary of War and the commanding general of the army, so that we
may escape the unpleasant controversy that gave so much scandal in
General Scott's time, and leave to our successors a clear field.
No matter what the result, I promise to submit to whatever decision
you may make. I also feel certain that General Belknap thinks he
is simply executing the law as it now stands, but I am equally
certain that he does not interpret the law reviving the grade of
general, and that fixing the "peace establishment" of 1868, as I
For instance, I am supposed to control the discipline of the
Military Academy as a part of the army, whereas General Belknap
ordered a court of inquiry in the case of the colored cadet, made
the detail, reviewed the proceedings, and made his order, without
my knowing a word of it, except through the newspapers; and more
recently, when I went to Chicago to attend to some division
business, I found the inspector-general (Hardie) under orders from
the Secretary of War to go to Montana on some claim business.
All I ask is that such orders should go through me. If all the
staff-officers are subject to receive orders direct from the
Secretary of War it will surely clash with the orders they may be
in the act of executing from me, or from their immediate
I ask that General Belknap draw up some clear, well-defined rules
for my action, that he show them to me before publication, that I
make on them my remarks, and then that you make a final decision.
I promise faithfully to abide by it, or give up my commission.
Please show this to General Belknap, and I will be back early in
October. With great respect, your friend,
W. T. SHERMAN
I did return about October 15th, saw President Grant, who said
nothing had been done in the premises, but that he would bring
General Belknap and me together and settle this matter. Matters
went along pretty much as usual till the month of August, 1871,
when I dined at the Arlington with Admiral Alder and General
Belknap. The former said he had been promoted to rear-admiral and
appointed to command the European squadron, then at Villa Franca,
near Nice, and that he was going out in the frigate Wabash,
inviting me to go along. I had never been to Europe, and the
opportunity was too tempting to refuse. After some preliminaries I
agreed to go along, taking with me as aides-de-camp Colonel
Audenried and Lieutenant Fred Grant. The Wabash was being
overhauled at the Navy-Yard at Boston, and was not ready to sail
till November, when she came to New-York, where we all embarked
Saturday, November 11th.
I have very full notes of the whole trip, and here need only state
that we went out to the Island of Madeira, and thence to Cadiz and
Gibraltar. Here my party landed, and the Wabash went on to Villa
Franca. From Gibraltar we made the general tour of Spain to
Bordeaux, through the south of France to Marseilles, Toulon, etc.,
to Nice, from which place we rejoined the Wabash and brought ashore
From Nice we went to Genoa, Turin, the Mont Cenis Tunnel, Milan,
Venice, etc., to Rome. Thence to Naples, Messina, and Syracuse,
where we took a steamer to Malta. From Malta to Egypt and
Constantinople, to Sebastopol, Poti, and Tiflis. At Constantinople
and Sebastopol my party was increased by Governor Curtin, his son,
and Mr. McGahan.
It was my purpose to have reached the Caspian, and taken boats to
the Volga, and up that river as far as navigation would permit, but
we were dissuaded by the Grand-Duke Michael, Governor-General of
the Caucasas, and took carriages six hundred miles to Taganrog, on
the Sea of Azof, to which point the railroad system of Russia was
completed. From Taganrog we took cars to Moscow and St.
Petersburg. Here Mr. Curtin and party remained, he being our
Minister at that court; also Fred Grant left us to visit his aunt
at Copenhagen. Colonel Audenried and I then completed the tour of
interior Europe, taking in Warsaw, Berlin, Vienna, Switzerland,
France, England, Scotland, and Ireland, embarking for home in the
good steamer Baltic, Saturday, September 7, 1872, reaching
Washington, D. C., September 22d. I refrain from dwelling on this
trip, because it would swell this chapter beyond my purpose.
When I regained my office I found matters unchanged since my
departure, the Secretary of War exercising all the functions of
commander-in-chief, and I determined to allow things to run to their
necessary conclusion. In 1873 my daughter Minnie also made a trip
to Europe, and I resolved as soon as she returned that I would
simply move back to St. Louis to execute my office there as best I
could. But I was embarrassed by being the possessor of a large
piece of property in Washington on I Street, near the corner of
Third, which I could at the time neither sell nor give away. It
came into my possession as a gift from friends in New York and
Boston, who had purchased it of General Grant and transferred to me
at the price of $65,000.
The house was very large, costly to light, heat, and maintain, and
Congress had reduced my pay four or five thousand dollars a year,
so that I was gradually being impoverished. Taxes, too, grew
annually, from about four hundred dollars a year to fifteen
hundred, besides all sorts of special taxes.
Finding myself caught in a dilemma, I added a new hall, and made
out of it two houses, one of which I occupied, and the other I
rented, and thus matters stood in 1873-'74. By the agency of Mr.
Hall, a neighbor and broker, I effected a sale of the property to
the present owner, Mr. Emory, at a fair price, accepting about half
payment in notes, and the other half in a piece of property on E
Street, which I afterward exchanged for a place in Cite Brilliante,
a suburb of St. Louis, which I still own. Being thus foot-loose,
and having repeatedly notified President Grant of my purpose, I
wrote the Secretary of War on the 8th day of May, 1874, asking the
authority of the President and the War Department to remove my
headquarters to St. Louis.
On the 11th day of May General Belknap replied that I had the
assent of the President and himself, inclosing the rough draft of
an order to accomplish this result, which I answered on the 15th,
expressing my entire satisfaction, only requesting delay in the
publication of the orders till August or September, as I preferred
to make the changes in the month of October.
On the 3d of September these orders were made:
WAR DEPARTMENT, ADJUTANT-GENERAL'S OFFICE, WASHINGTON, September 8,
General Orders No. 108.
With the assent of the President, and at the request of the
General, the headquarters of the armies of the United States will
be established at St. Louis, Missouri, in the month of October
The regulations and orders now governing the functions of the
General of the Army, and those in relation to transactions of
business with the War Department and its bureaus, will continue in
By order of the Secretary of War:
E. D. TOWNSEND, Adjutant-General.
Our daughter Minnie was married October 1, 1874, to Thomas W.
Fitch, United States Navy, and we all forthwith packed up and
regained our own house at St. Louis, taking an office on the corner
of Tenth and Locust Streets. The only staff I brought with me were
the aides allowed by law, and, though we went through the forms of
"command," I realized that it was a farce, and it did not need a
prophet to foretell it would end in a tragedy. We made ourselves
very comfortable, made many pleasant excursions into the interior,
had a large correspondence, and escaped the mortification of being
slighted by men in Washington who were using their temporary power
for selfish ends.
Early in March, 1676, appeared in all the newspapers of the day the
sensational report from Washington that Secretary of War Belknap
had been detected in selling sutlerships in the army; that he had
confessed it to Representative Blackburn, of Kentucky; that he had
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