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    Major General George Stoneman: Autograph Letter Signed on the Dire State of His Command.
    ALS. "George Stoneman." Six pages, Head Quarters Cavalry Corps, Army of the Potomac; March 7, 1863. In this extensive and important letter to Senator Henry Wilson (1812-1875) of Massachusetts, the Radical Republican chair of the Senate Committee on Military Affairs, General Stoneman reports on the deplorable condition of the cavalry force he found when taking over command of it in General Joseph Hooker's Army of the Potomac.

    "My dear Sir
    I have been so extremely busy day and night since I wrote you last, in trying to do something for and with the Cavalry force of this army and in the endeavor to put it into condition for effective operations during the coming campaign that I have hardly found time to write to my wife, and this coupled with the fact of my name having as I learn been presented to your Comte has prevented me from writing you oftener of late. My assignment by General Hooker to the command of the Cavalry force of the Army of the Potomac was unexpected and unsought, and when I took it I was well aware from past experience what I had before me. I found upon making a personal inspection of the whole force that I had a mess on my hands in far worse condition than when I left it last summer, divided and subdivided unorganized and disorganized, with neither head or system, a large portion of the best men and horses scattered over and through the army doing orderly messenger, hostler groom, escort servants and other duties, a squadron here a troop there a squad in another place and individuals all over, I have now succeeded pretty well in getting in and reducing these out siders, organizing the whole into Divisions and Brigades and establishing a system a system of responsibility.
    I found outpost and other duty being done in the most careless and slovenly manner and that nothing but the most stringent measures would accomplish anything like a reform. I am glad however to say that with the cordial support of Gent Hooker much has already been done to correct abuses and neglects and I am assured that the improvements are commensurate with our efforts, I have had several officers dismissed and delinquents are beginning to do through fear what they failed to perform from a sense of duty. I act with every one up principle that we have each and all taken a solemn oath on the holy evangelist before high heaven to obey orders, regulations, and the requirements of law; and he who knowingly fails to comply with this sacred obligation is guilty legally and morally of what the laws of God and man denounces as perjury, and a perjurer is unfit to hold a position of trust or profit.
    I am now engaged in procuring the data upon which to act in the carrying out the provisions of your Bill in regard to the consolidation of Regts and hope through this means to be able to get rid of a number of worse than useless officers, which act like a millstone upon the neck of the cavalry service.
    We are now organizing pack trains throughout the whole cavalry corps, and shall when the trains are organized be able to move entirely independent of wheels and can go where we please. A Pioneer party is being organized in each Regiment prepared with implements for the construction or destruction of Roads Bridges &c, a thing which has heretofore been greatly needed, and hope by these and other means to be able to show you within the next few weeks a much more efficient and effective cavalry force than we have ever had before, and if we do not succeed in doing something which will compensate the govt for the immense outlay it has been to in organizing a large Cavalry force then I shall be willing to give it up as a bad job and a hopeless undertaking.
    The great obstacle I find in the way is the very few really good cavalry officers in whose hands I can entrust the execution of any important undertaking.
    I enclose you a couple of orders as a specimen of the stringent measures I find it absolutely necessary to pursue in order to secure the proper or anything like the proper performance of duty and obedience to orders....
    The commander of Cavalry in all armies holds a position in importance next to that of the Comd in Chief, and he must be clothed with authority equivalent to his position else he is unable to do anything and becomes but a staff officer....Judging from what I see and hear I should have no hesitation in saying that the Army of the Potomac is improving every day and that is was never in as good and efficient condition as at the present time. The study of the science of war is not permitted to do away with the necessity of knowledge and practice of the art of war. I think the three requisites to constitute a good military organization the physical the moral and the intellectual are now in more happy accord than they have ever been before, and I trust and pray that they may remain so, and that this army has ceased to be an engine with which to experiment, and to test generals, or rather men to find out if they could ever become generals,
    Very truly yours

    George Stoneman."
    There is tape along the edge which affects a few letters of text on the last page; otherwise fine.

    Together with the following: 2) John M. Schofield. ALS. "J.M. Schofield." Four pages, Head Quarters Army of the Frontier, Springfield [Arkansas]; February 3, 1863. In this remarkable letter to Henry W. Halleck (1815-1872), General-in-Chief of all U.S. Armies, Major General Schofield requests transfer from the Army of the Frontier due to his disagreements with his superior Major General Samuel Ryan Curtis (1805-1866). He was soon relieved of his duty by Halleck.
    "General
    I am compelled to say that I believe the interest of the service demand my removal from this command. While it would be mortifying to me to be transferred to an inferior one I will cheerfully submit to it rather than remain here longer, because I believe it will be much better for the country.
    I do not desire to impugn the motives of General Curtis. He may be perfectly honest and sincere in all his official acts. Whether so or not is immaterial, the fact is undeniable that his whole concern while I have been in command of this arm has been calculated to prevent my accomplishing any good result. He has discouraged every advance I have made and repeatedly ordered me to fall back. He detained me in St. Louis nearly a week after I was ready to return to my command for no other reason than to give Blunt and Herron time to make their raid to Van Buren. As soon as I had arrived and assumed command he ordered me to fall back. At length I got this order modified so as to permit me to move East and South, but the mountains having become impassible I was compelled to come round by Crain Creek. Arrived at that place he refuses to let me go further. I have been lying here five days while the roads and weather are fine, and I can not get permission to move in any direction.
    The entire force of the enemy in Arkansas is at Little Rock or below that point. No forge can be subsisted in North Western Arkansas by the enemy, and it is not possible for my command to do any good by remaining here. We must move to the Eastern part of the State sooner or later of course. Why not do it now is more than I can imagine. It may be that supplies can not be obtained by the river for some time to come, but this is no reason for our delay. We can move one hundred miles nearer Little Rock and yet draw supplies from Rolla better than now. Besides we would be in position to unite with Davidson and Warren should the enemy's force be too strong for this command. Not that I believe it is. I have no doubt I can easily whip their entire force combined.
    Genl Curtis has at length decided that when I move I am to go via Forsythe and down the White River valley. He has directed me to construct flat-boats for crossing the river at Forsythe (which I am doing) and a field work or block house to protect the crossing. He also directs me not to move my main force over until ample means shall be provided for retreating or bringing up reinforcements. From what point? Davidson's and Warren's are the only forces available and they from a hundred to one hundred and fifty miles East of Forsythe. I have already lost six days since my Eastward movement was stopped by Genl Curtis' order. The weather is fine and the roads in splendid condition. With all possible exertion it will take from seven to ten days more to get my army across the river at Forsythe, even if not interfered with any more. Long before that time my command would have been at Batesville had I been permitted to proceed.
    I can see in all this no other object but to delay my movement and prevent my doing anything until some ulterior object can be accomplished probably to give some other officer the command. What the reason for this may be I will not assume to say. If Genl Curtis lacks confidence in me, I ought not to command under him. Better that I be sacrificed even than that important movements be delayed a single day. Better give the command to anybody and leave him free to act than to keep me here and forbid my doing anything. A fool could not go far wrong, so plain is it what should be done.
    Blunt and Herron are in St. Louis, or were a few days ago, and doubtless their councils have had much weight in determining the present delay and annoyance to me. I observe they are both nominated Maj Genls and I know they both aspire to this command and are favorites of Genl Curtis. Better that either of them have it than that the present condition of things continue. It is true they committed the most stupid blunders at Prairie Grove and elsewhere and have shown their utter incapacity to command, yet they could be allowed to act, and could hardly fail under present circumstances to blunder into success.
    Do not understand me, General, as being dissatisfied with my command or wanting a higher one. I have a fine little army, and it is all I ask if I can be permitted to use it. I did feel at one time, and so wrote you, unwilling to take voluntarily a lower command. But that feeling is gone, I will cheerfully accept anything to remove the present difficulty, because I believe the good of the service demands it. I will even content myself to remain here if, after what I have told you, you think no change for the better is practicable.
    I have received my appointment as Maj Genl, and of course feel much gratified by this mark of confidence. I would feel much more so could I be in position to render the service demanded by my additional rank.
    I am, General,
    Yours very Respectfully

    J. M. Schofield."
    3) William D. Whipple. ALS. "Wm. D. Whipple." Two pages, Head-Quarters, Department of the Cumberland, Field; December 21, 1864. In this letter to Brigadier General James H. Wilson (1837-1925), Brigadier General William Whipple (1826-1902) writes for information in support of Wilson's pending promotion. Wilson was promoted to Brevet Brigadier General for his heroism at the Battle of Nashville on December 10-19, 1864, days before this letter was written. 4) James W. Lowe. AES. "James W. Lowe." Two pages, Camp, Wayne County, North Carolina; April 5, 1865. The endorsement by Lowe, of Company E, 4th Tennessee Cavalry, concerns the requisition of cattle. 5) C. Groom. ALS. "C. Groom." One page, Senaca Creek, Mississippi; October 17, 1862. In this letter to a Colonel Beckwith, Groom writes. "Capt. Bliss in not under my command but I have enclosed your telegram to Genl. Stoneman for his action in this case."
    George Stoneman Jr. (1822-1894) was a United States Army cavalry officer, trained at West Point, where his roommate was Stonewall Jackson. In the Civil War, he became Adjutant to George B. McClellan and later served under General Joseph Hooker. Under Hooker, Stoneman failed in an ambitious attempt to penetrate behind enemy lines, being bogged down at an important river crossing. Hooker's sharp criticism of Stoneman may have been partly aimed at deflecting the heavy blame being directed at himself for the loss of this major battle that most generals believed to be winnable. After the war, he was elected as governor of California, serving between 1883 and 1887.

    Two exceptional letters from Generals Stoneman and Schofield, along with three additional collectable letters.


    More Information: John McAllister Schofield (1831-1906) was an American soldier who held major commands during the American Civil War. He later served as U.S. Secretary of War under Presidents Andrew Johnson and Ulysses S. Grant, and Commanding General of the United States Army.


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