Dana: “I hope you will do the utmost to second the efforts of Gen. Thomas to raise negro troops”

I received the following letter from Asst. Secretary of War, Charles Dana, in response to my letter of Aug. 5,

 

Yours of the 5th inst. has been read with great satisfaction not only by myself, but by the Secretary of War and the President. I need not assure you that you will continue to receive the entire confidence of the administration & that any suggestion of yours will be received with the utmost consideration.

I have not seen your list of recommendations for promotion & cannot say how completely it has been complied with. As there are no vacancies in the list of major generals, it has not been practicable as yet to appoint any new officers of that grade, either from the candidates proposed by you, or by Gen. Meade, with the single exception of Gen. G. K. Warren, who was promoted not only on account of his own extraordinary merits, but because he was needed to take command of an army corps in the army of the Potomac. It is not impossible that a number of major generals who have been tried (I don’t mean by court martial) and have proved wanting may be dismissed, there are about a dozen such who will not again be called into active service, and in that case I have no doubt the men you have recommended will receive their commissions.

Of new brigadier generals I find in the register of the adjutant general the names of Prime, Woods, G. Smith, Maltby, Sanborn & Rawlins, all of whom I know belong to your command. (Prime has declined, for what reason I do not know: his health I understand to be much improving.) I judge that these are all that you have recommended for appointment to that grade, as I am sure your wish would be followed, wherever it is practicable to do so.

There is no news here of any importance aside from that published in the papers. The grand combined attack on Charleston will be made between Thursday of this week & Thursday following. Gen. Gillmore and Gen. Foster are both confident of success.

There is no probability of any change in the command of the army of the Potomac, nor of any immediately, in that of the army of the Cumberland. There is however, much dissatisfaction with the present state of things, but it takes a long time to make any movement at Hd Qrs.

I am about leaving to go down to Winchester, and shall probably remain with that army for several weeks. The question of transferring the Marine Brigade to your command has lately been acted upon here, and was negatived by the general in chief. I have had no opportunity of speaking with him on the subject and cannot say what were his reasons.I find that the Secy of War is pretty strongly convinced that the M. B. is a good institution, and though he is in favor of putting it under your- authority, he will not think that it ought to be abolished altogether. I have however told him that in my judgment that ought to be done.

I hope you will do the utmost to second the efforts of Gen. Thomas to raise negro troops. It is of great importance that the army should be as much strengthened from this source as possible, with a view to the contingency of a partial failure to raise men enough by the conscription. So far, the number of conscripts who pay commutation, & of those who are exempted by physical disability is much larger than was expected, & the number of valid soldiers smaller. The obstacles thrown in the way by the Copperheads are also numerous, cunning, & effective to a considerable degree. Besides, there is a large party whose effort is to bring the seceded states back with the same leaders & the same slavery with which they went out, and as an offset to their plot it is desirable to enlist a powerful negro force, from among the former slaves especially of the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, & Mississippi.

If I find anything at Winchester or Nashville which I think likely to interest you, I will communicate it.

P. S. I can tell you in confidence that the report of the McDowell Commission bears very hard on Curtiss.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 9, p 148-9

Maj. Gen. Ulysses S Grant 3rd, Clinton NY

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