Robert E. Lee's assignment as General of the Confederate States Army


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infomanpa

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#2
This is Robert E. Lee's assignment as General of the Confederate States Army. The appointment date was June 1st 1861 but the Secretary of War, Leroy P. Walker did not sign the paperwork until August 31st 1861.
Nice. I think that it's worth noting that this document made Lee A general of the CSA, not THE general of the CSA. Lee didn't take command of any army until he was appointed as commanding general of the Army of Northern Virginia in 1862.
 
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Nice. I think that it's worth noting that this document made Lee A general of the CSA, not THE general of the CSA. Lee didn't take command of any army until he was appointed as commanding general of the Army of Northern Virginia in 1862.
If I remember correctly, not was he only a general, he was third of five in seniority, after Samuel Cooper and A.S. Johnston. (Fourth in the eyes of J.E. Johnston)
 
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If I remember correctly, not was he only a general, he was third of five in seniority, after Samuel Cooper and A.S. Johnston. (Fourth in the eyes of J.E. Johnston)
Exactly.
As Joe Johnston had been staff officer and not line officer, Jefferson Davis ranked him fourth while Lee was ranked third. Because of that Johnston seemed to have nourished a certain adversity towards Lee for the remainder of the war.
 
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Exactly.
As Joe Johnston had been staff officer and not line officer, Jefferson Davis ranked him fourth while Lee was ranked third. Because of that Johnston seemed to have nourished a certain adversity towards Lee for the remainder of the war.
I think Davis was uncomfortable having to rank Lee so high at this point. Lee's standing in the US Army almost demanded it, even if Lee's standing in Virginia had declined. Politically, ranking Johnston over Lee would not have been an issue. Davis might have done better to have convinced himself that he could ignore Lee's commission as colonel in the US Army as it dated after the formation of the CSA. Johnston could then be ranked a day ahead of Lee. A lot of acrimony could have been avoided.
 

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Nice. I think that it's worth noting that this document made Lee A general of the CSA, not THE general of the CSA. Lee didn't take command of any army until he was appointed as commanding general of the Army of Northern Virginia in 1862.
In 1862, Lee indeed was appointed as commanding general, but Davis ran everything directly, and so it was an empty appointment. There was a debate in the rebel Congress in Feb '62, which approved Lee being formally assigned as GinC, but Davis veto'd it. Hence the issued order was:

GENERAL ORDERS, No. 14.​
ADJT. AND INSP. GEN.S OFFICE
Richmond, March 13, 1862.​
General Robert E. Lee is assigned to duty at the seat of government; and, under the direction of the President, is charged with the conduct of military operations in the armies of the Confederacy.
By command of the Secretary of War:
S. COOPER,
Adjutant and inspector General.

This position was not rescinded when Lee took command of the ANV, and Lee remained "charged with the conduct of military operations in the armies of the Confederacy" until 23rd February 1864, when Bragg was appointed, vice Lee. However, in 1861 he was initially appointed a Major-General in the Virginia Militia, and Brigadier-General in the ACSA (CSA regular army, which had no ranks above BG initially). The rebels quickly found that their regular BG's were ranked by any militia MG the states appointed, and so made them all full Generals to clarify their status. Congress authorised 5 full generals, and Lee was 3 of 5 (below Cooper and ASJ, and above JEJ and Beauregard). When ASJ was killed Bragg was promoted vice ASJ.
 
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#8
I think Davis was uncomfortable having to rank Lee so high at this point
Agreed to a degree, but from a personal point of view, I think that Davies would have been even more uncomfortable if he had had to give Johnston seniority. The chemistry between the two of them just was not right, they had quarrelled from the earliest day of their aquaintance, when at West Point they both had courted the daughter of the tavern owner Benny Havens. Then later, as Senator, Davis would have preferred another Johnston, A.S. Johnston, to get the position of Quartermaster General in the US Army. Instead of Albert Sidney Johnston, Joseph Eggleston Johnston was appointed that position. Not to deviate too much from the original intention of this thread, but there is a pretty good article shedding some light on the conflict between Johnston and Davis:
https://archives.columbusstate.edu/gah/1993/72-81.pdf
I guess that Davis was pretty contented that he could find a reason why he could put Johnston a step farther down the ladder.
 
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Agreed to a degree, but from a personal point of view, I think that Davies would have been even more uncomfortable if he had had to give Johnston seniority. The chemistry between the two of them just was not right, they had quarrelled from the earliest day of their aquaintance, when at West Point they both had courted the daughter of the tavern owner Benny Havens. Then later, as Senator, Davis would have preferred another Johnston, A.S. Johnston, to get the position of Quartermaster General in the US Army. Instead of Albert Sidney Johnston, Joseph Eggleston Johnston was appointed that position. Not to deviate too much from the original intention of this thread, but there is a pretty good article shedding some light on the conflict between Johnston and Davis:
https://archives.columbusstate.edu/gah/1993/72-81.pdf
I guess that Davis was pretty contented that he could find a reason why he could put Johnston a step farther down the ladder.
I agree that from a strictly personal point, Davis preferred Lee. However, Johnston had conducted successful operations as a CSA officer and Lee had no experience as a combat officer. I'm not sure Davis thought of Lee as field command material.
 

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