The Buell Commission

Lubliner

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#1
This is found in its full composition, in Series 1--Volume XVI [16]--Part 1--Reports; of the Official Records. It was published in 1886, and I found it to be such an important event that I kept the original hardcopy. It begins on page 5 with an introduction by Major-General Henry Halleck written in Washington, on November 25, 1862, shortly after the disastrous Perryville Campaign. The actual transcript of the trial opens on page 67. and runs through to page 726, and therefore I may assume very few have covered its entirety. I have not!!
Many questions are called into line before and after the Commission, such as the legality of the Court of Inquiry, whether it was a Courts'-Martial and finally upon a decision, which had not been made as late as 1872. I have not read the full body of evidence (pages 67-726) but I have spent time browsing through many of the witnesses that were called for testimony. I also covered the full mass of information concerning the trial itself, and desired to share a few thoughts of my belief in its importance to the high command. Due to length, I will subdivide this into a few parts, applying the principle of @Pat Young with the Books and Reviews Forum.
Thank you.
Lubliner.
 

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Lubliner

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#2
[Part 2] Major-General Buell is taken to task over his cautious approach toward bringing on an engagement of arms against the Rebel Army of Confederate General Bragg. Outlining his full command with the Army of the Ohio, from Corinth when he received it, to the Perryville Battle where he was deposed from it, this Commission brought forth points of consideration instead of charges. Major-General Buell defended himself and appeared very highly qualified as a legal representative. He was forceful in his arguments concerning legality, and denied the Court 'off-the-record' discussions and agreements in secret session. This permitted him a legal platform to argue what could be construed as charges against his leadership, and by all conclusions drawn in totality, I believe he made his case.
Thank you,
Lubliner.
 

Lubliner

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#3
[Part 3] Which brings me to a conclusion for reasoning over the legitimacy and existence of this Commission. Henry Halleck had been promoted from the field when he stalemated the Federal advance. He had been busy maligning Generals' Grant and Sherman, and his own ticket to Washington was paid for with Buell's certification; but Buell dropped the ball. (strictly my own assessment), and Halleck felt endangered by it. I propose the idea for this Commission to be called an 'Intelligence Gathering' for the benefit of Highest Command, in sifting information prior to Stone's River and ongoing for the Spring Campaign of Major-General Rosecrans. The body of witnesses and the questions covered points in this direction.
Thank you all for the patience. I now desire to hear some weighed judgements for your own behalves.
Lubliner.
 
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#4
[Part 3] Which brings me to a conclusion for reasoning over the legitimacy and existence of this Commission. Henry Halleck had been promoted from the field when he stalemated the Federal advance. He had been busy maligning Generals' Grant and Sherman, and his own ticket to Washington was paid for with Buell's certification; but Buell dropped the ball. (strictly my own assessment), and Halleck felt endangered by it. I propose the idea for this Commission to be called an 'Intelligence Gathering' for the benefit of Highest Command, in sifting information prior to Stone's River and ongoing for the Spring Campaign of Major-General Rosecrans. The body of witnesses and the questions covered points in this direction.
Thank you all for the patience. I now desire to hear some weighed judgements for your own behalves.
Lubliner.
The concept of a congressional commission that reviews and can rebuke a general is complex.
Congress can not dismiss or discipline a military officer. It is up to the President as Commander and Chief to demote or promote an officer .
If Congress found fault in the military performance if an officer it can only make recommendations to the President.
On the other hand Congress not the President has to approve funding for a war and can terminate funding for a war.
So one can argue Congress certainly had the right to insure the war should be conducted in what ever shape and form it's constituents wish it to be.
Leftyhunter
 

Lubliner

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#5
The concept of a congressional commission that reviews and can rebuke a general is complex.
Congress can not dismiss or discipline a military officer. It is up to the President as Commander and Chief to demote or promote an officer .
If Congress found fault in the military performance if an officer it can only make recommendations to the President.
On the other hand Congress not the President has to approve funding for a war and can terminate funding for a war.
So one can argue Congress certainly had the right to insure the war should be conducted in what ever shape and form it's constituents wish it to be.
Leftyhunter
Thank you @leftyhunter, sincerely; through my introduction being remiss in the following fact of clarity, I seem to have given you an incomplete tack. It may be a bonus point to follow up on with a President and the House, but this is General-in-Chief Halleck's announcement [pg.6 see above]:
"As the Secretary of War has ordered a military commission to investigate the operations of General Buell in this campaign it would be improper for me to express my opinion unless specially directed to do so." [end of quote].
I have previously mentioned the shove for leadership that had occurred going into Shiloh, and the final result at Corinth, among the Federal Commanders. I have already stated my belief that the abilities of General Buell were proven deficient and this had endangered the stance of Halleck's own position because he was backing Buell. (Allow my use of Generals' names in short for brevity, given all due respect, please). Possibly you are correct, or rather when I consider it, in all probability a clamor was made in Congress over the Perryville incident; proving the correctness of your statement. I have more discussion coming. Thank you again for joining in, sincerely;
Lubliner.
 
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#6
Thank you @leftyhunter, sincerely; through my introduction being remiss in the following fact of clarity, I seem to have given you an incomplete tack. It may be a bonus point to follow up on with a President and the House, but this is General-in-Chief Halleck's announcement [pg.6 see above]:
"As the Secretary of War has ordered a military commission to investigate the operations of General Buell in this campaign it would be improper for me to express my opinion unless specially directed to do so." [end of quote].
I have previously mentioned the shove for leadership that had occurred going into Shiloh, and the final result at Corinth, among the Federal Commanders. I have already stated my belief that the abilities of General Buell were proven deficient and this had endangered the stance of Halleck's own position because he was backing Buell. (Allow my use of Generals' names in short for brevity, given all due respect, please). Possibly you are correct, or rather when I consider it, in all probability a clamor was made in Congress over the Perryville incident; proving the correctness of your statement. I have more discussion coming. Thank you again for joining in, sincerely;
Lubliner.
Congress did have a committee to investigate the conduct of the war. Did said committee help or hinder the war effort is debatable.
Leftyhunter
 

Lubliner

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#7
To investigate General Buell's operations in Kentucky and Tennessee is the stated purpose of the commission. It was decided to focus on six points of consideration, which should be crucial in the examination (parameters).
1. The overall operation of the Army, its efficiency, movements, etc.
2. Suffering Kentucky to be invaded by the Rebels. In other words, what was the chief cause for being outmaneuvered.
3. The failure to relieve Munfordville. Along the direct line between Nashville and Louisville, Colonel J. T. Wilder was made to surrender due to no relief nor support to his position from the Army.
4. The battle of Perryville and the conduct of Buell and the Army there.
5. Permitting the Rebel Army to escape from Kentucky. All orders of command on review, terrain, perspective judgements.
6. Touch any other topic beneficial to the service and make a full report on it.
7. Discover General Buell's loyalty, policy, and whether it deviates from the Administration.

I cannot help but believe that General Buell was on trial for any purpose other than handing the leadership over to another. A thorough shake up occurred and because of it came many high-ranking officers that were put through an oral battery exam. How they responded upon this inquiry in front of the Court was deciding there future career; similar to a graduate exercise. This is my proposition concerning the Buell Commission, which I shall continue to discuss. Thank you.
Lubliner.
 

Lubliner

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#8
Congress did have a committee to investigate the conduct of the war. Did said committee help or hinder the war effort is debatable.
Leftyhunter
I think a better example for comparison would be the Court proceedings on Fitz-John Porter, after 2nd Manassas. I am aware of the Congressional Committee, but these two cases were strictly military judgements. Unfortunately Porter had not as good a defense for his shortcomings, and suffered for it. On the other hand, General Buell's efficiency in Legal Proceedings amazed me, and I truly feel it was his technical knowledge that saved him from the trash pile. He also had Halleck's continued support, and a final determination was left unresolved. The whole case got shelved.
 

Lubliner

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#9
To investigate General Buell's operations in Kentucky and Tennessee is the stated purpose of the commission. It was decided to focus on six points of consideration, which should be crucial in the examination (parameters).
1. The overall operation of the Army, its efficiency, movements, etc.
2. Suffering Kentucky to be invaded by the Rebels. In other words, what was the chief cause for being outmaneuvered.
3. The failure to relieve Munfordville. Along the direct line between Nashville and Louisville, Colonel J. T. Wilder was made to surrender due to no relief nor support to his position from the Army.
4. The battle of Perryville and the conduct of Buell and the Army there.
5. Permitting the Rebel Army to escape from Kentucky. All orders of command on review, terrain, perspective judgements.
6. Touch any other topic beneficial to the service and make a full report on it.
7. Discover General Buell's loyalty, policy, and whether it deviates from the Administration.

I cannot help but believe that General Buell was on trial for any purpose other than handing the leadership over to another. A thorough shake up occurred and because of it came many high-ranking officers that were put through an oral battery exam. How they responded upon this inquiry in front of the Court was deciding there future career; similar to a graduate exercise. This is my proposition concerning the Buell Commission, which I shall continue to discuss. Thank you.
Lubliner.
Continuing once again for expanding my theory as to its cause, the Court investigation submitted negative opinions on Buell's leadership to all points listed except No.#7. They found him in conformity with current National Policy, and dismissed any challenge to his loyalty as preposterous; yet with such overwhelming criticism on how the Army was handled, no charges were brought against General Buell. Excepting the preliminaries, the Court had convened on December 1, 1862 and lasted through to April 15, 1863. Henry Halleck sums up the final expectation on May 20, 1863 to Army Headquarters in Washington, stating;
"As the Commission has reported no charges against Major-General D. C. Buell nor recommended any further proceedings I respectively recommend that the Commission be dissolved, and the officers, as well as General Buell, be ordered to other duty." [pg. 12, see above].
 

Lubliner

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#10
~The Court proceeding was finally dissolved upon Halleck's request, May 20, 1863.
General Buell had demoralized the fighting spirit of a whole Army in the west, and Washington was also groping through leadership problems with the Army of the Potomac at this time. The results in the East are their own story, but the full investigation here in the Western Theater deserves some critical study. By the end of the 'Intelligence Gathering', General Rosecrans was moving south down through Tennessee into parts of Alabama, and into Georgia with full detailed knowledge of the country he was moving through. He also had a good grasp on his command officers, for many were called upon during the investigation, to answer for all they knew concerning warfare. This full benefit of intelligence could be channeled directly into the field until its expiration at Chickamauga, and the resulting back flop into Chattanooga, when General Grant was finally called forth as a replacement.
My purpose is to assess the amount of information gathered during the investigation, and weigh how critical it was toward the performance of the officers in command using their testimony. In scrutinizing the record, I have become convinced that the whole Army of the West was graded, and stood a trial of passage, with General Buell equivalent, if not superior, to other members of this Court.
Lubliner.
Edit: changed the word, 'during' to 'using'.
 
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Lubliner

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#11
The official stance at the very end of this proceeding, when suggested by the Army Chief of Staff in Washington to dissolve, though opinioned, brought no charges. We must assume it had the blessing of Secretary Stanton. He had ordered Halleck to issue Special Orders No. 356 on Nov. 20, 1862, which stated:

“A Military Commission will convene at Cincinnati, Ohio, on the 27th instant [November 1862] to investigate and report upon the operations of the army under the command of Major-General D. C. Buell , U. S. Volunteers, in Kentucky and Tennessee.

Detail for the Commission—

  1. Major-General Lewis Wallace, U. S. Volunteers.
  2. Major-General Edward O. C. Ord, U. S. Volunteers.
  3. Brigadier-General Albin Schoepf, U. S. Volunteers.
  4. Brigadier-General N. J. T. Dana, U. S. Volunteers.
  5. Brigadier-General Daniel Tyler, U. S. Volunteers
  6. Major Donn Piatt, aide-de-camp, judge-advocate and recorder.

The Commission will adjourn from place to place as may be deemed advisable, for the convenience of taking testimony and will report an opinion in the case.”
Thanks, Lubliner.
 

Lubliner

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#12
The concept of a congressional commission that reviews and can rebuke a general is complex.
Congress can not dismiss or discipline a military officer. It is up to the President as Commander and Chief to demote or promote an officer .
If Congress found fault in the military performance if an officer it can only make recommendations to the President.
On the other hand Congress not the President has to approve funding for a war and can terminate funding for a war.
So one can argue Congress certainly had the right to insure the war should be conducted in what ever shape and form it's constituents wish it to be.
Leftyhunter
Until you mentioned this aspect of Congress, I had never considered the expense of logistics. Plenty of reports made give numbers of rations on hand and/or ready for shipment. Also at some point in the year, (end of June I think) a fiscal account from the Treasury is submitted, but my knowledge of these is scant. It happens to be a huge factor concerning the operations of the Army, when I come to think upon it. I have almost always assumed Buell had in hand what we call a blank checkbook. The cost of this investigation itself had to be staggering, and surely importuned the Army by the high rank of officers listed above, needless to mention the numbers called to bear witness for the Government, and General Buell, for this matter. Thank you @leftyhunter for a good solid pillar to support further inquiries, which I have in the works. Counting witnesses, the number of questions set forth, the cross-examinations and redirects are time consuming. I cannot simply read from A to Z and understand. An organizational outline is in the works.
Lubliner.
 
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#13
Until you mentioned this aspect of Congress, I had never considered the expense of logistics. Plenty of reports made give numbers of rations on hand and/or ready for shipment. Also at some point in the year, (end of June I think) a fiscal account from the Treasury is submitted, but my knowledge of these is scant. It happens to be a huge factor concerning the operations of the Army, when I come to think upon it. I have almost always assumed Buell had in hand what we call a blank checkbook. The cost of this investigation itself had to be staggering, and surely importuned the Army by the high rank of officers listed above, needless to mention the numbers called to bear witness for the Government, and General Buell, for this matter. Thank you @leftyhunter for a good solid pillar to support further inquiries, which I have in the works. Counting witnesses, the number of questions set forth, the cross-examinations and redirects are time consuming. I cannot simply read from A to Z and understand. An organizational outline is in the works.
Lubliner.
My friends @cash and @johan_steele are far more knowledgeable then I on the Congressional Committee on the conduct of the war. No doubt the army was burdened by time and money spent on being investigated by the committee. On the other hand unlike some of our posters who live to use the term " The Lincoln Regime" the US has a civilian controlled military and no matter how big a pain in the rear Congress is the military has to comply with congressional mandates.
Leftyhunter
 

Lubliner

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#14
My friends @cash and @johan_steele are far more knowledgeable then I on the Congressional Committee on the conduct of the war. No doubt the army was burdened by time and money spent on being investigated by the committee. On the other hand unlike some of our posters who live to use the term " The Lincoln Regime" the US has a civilian controlled military and no matter how big a pain in the rear Congress is the military has to comply with congressional mandates.
Leftyhunter
I have had a good conversation with @cash on another thread, and have looked at his blog a couple of times.
At this point in the war, with the disasters in the East, I am sure the Congressional Committee had their hands full. MacClellan got ousted after Antietam, and by December, Burnside was in command. There was clamor among the troops due to popularity of Little Mac, and a direct movement through The Hill caused his dismissal. I believe his insubordination to Lincoln et. al., insinuations made in private, and his defection from Government Policies had much to do with it.
Buell had not chaffed against Washington Policy. In organizing the details to the Commission, I discovered there had been a petition floated among the circle of his subordinates, and seven of them had signed it. It was detrimental acknowledgement of Buell and his capabilities to function as the head of the Army. I need to investigate this further, but it still supports my original argument that, by his own defense, Buell made the subordinate ranks admit their knowledge of campaigning. Buell won the argument, and still had backing at least in Washington military circles.
How badly Buell's leadership was I have yet to determine for myself. Whether his rebuttal and arguments suffice to explain his delinquency for battle and giving chase, I may come to realize more fully as I progress. And were the other levels of leadership more at fault, resorting to an insubordinate act against the General?
Bragg had a problem that can be likened to this with his own Army from Tullahoma through to Chickamauga, and finally caused his reappointment, in 1863-4. Happy New Year, @leftyhunter.
Lubliner.
 

Lubliner

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#15
I have to acknowledge a big question mark when I now read of the Army being reduced to half-rations. Whether it be this one on topic, or a Confederate one later on, the idea of having supplies plus communication for them and being reduced could be a Congressional matter. Possibly the point General Buell didn't make known regarding the reduction before entering Kentucky? It demoralized the Army, and possibly for the token sake of Treasury. Responsibility is again lifted from his shoulders, but I have come across no mention for it...yet. One of these topics of personal expense can be rather humbling when received by grace.
Lubliner.
 

Lubliner

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#16
The official stance at the very end of this proceeding, when suggested by the Army Chief of Staff in Washington to dissolve, though opinioned, brought no charges. We must assume it had the blessing of Secretary Stanton. He had ordered Halleck to issue Special Orders No. 356 on Nov. 20, 1862, which stated:

“A Military Commission will convene at Cincinnati, Ohio, on the 27th instant [November 1862] to investigate and report upon the operations of the army under the command of Major-General D. C. Buell , U. S. Volunteers, in Kentucky and Tennessee.

Detail for the Commission—

  1. Major-General Lewis Wallace, U. S. Volunteers.
  2. Major-General Edward O. C. Ord, U. S. Volunteers.
  3. Brigadier-General Albin Schoepf, U. S. Volunteers.
  4. Brigadier-General N. J. T. Dana, U. S. Volunteers.
  5. Brigadier-General Daniel Tyler, U. S. Volunteers
  6. Major Donn Piatt, aide-de-camp, judge-advocate and recorder.

The Commission will adjourn from place to place as may be deemed advisable, for the convenience of taking testimony and will report an opinion in the case.”
Thanks, Lubliner.
The following eight names submitted charges against General Buell, and so far as I can determine, without his prior knowledge. [p.221].
Given in testimony on Monday morning, December 22, 1862, by Brigadier-General Speed S. Fry, though failing to answer to signing the petition stated by rumor he had heard of, '...an overall dissatisfaction in how the Army was being managed.'

1. General James B. Steedman, 3rd Brigade, 1st Division.
2. Colonel J. M. Harlan, 2nd Brigade, 1st Division.
3. Colonel M. B. Walker, 1st Brigade, 1st Division.
4. Colonel J. M. Connell, 17th Ohio Regiment,
5. Major D. Ward, 17th Ohio Regiment.
6. Lieutenant P. W. Lister, 31st Ohio Regiment.
7. Colonel John T. Croxton, 4th Kentucky Regiment.
8. Colonel George, 2nd Minnesota Regiment.

Several others whose names General Fry could not remember were involved, and he ends his testimony by stating he no longer recalls the names of the men who had mentioned deposing General Buell of his command, but that the rumor abounded.
Lubliner.
 

Lubliner

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#17
The board of investigation convened from December 1 to the 5th in Cincinnati, Ohio, calling three witnesses to the stand before relocating to Nashville and continuing on December 8, 1862. General Buell had argued his defense for becoming an equal member of the investigation, and could cross-examine. He also instructed the 'court' on procedures relevant to the investigation, and by December 23rd while still in Nashville, appears to have commandeered the inquiry. On this date the following submission was given by the judge-advocate, Major Donn Piatt;

"The judge=advocate proposes in view of the movement of the Army of the Cumberland, to arrest for the present the case of the Government reserving to himself the right hereafter to introduce further evidence, for the purpose of summoning the witnesses General Buell wishes to have examined." [p. 235].

Though pressing urgency upon the court before the eve of the Stone's River Battle, they continued calling witnesses for examination on the 24th, 25th, 26th, 27th, and 28th. At this point they broke off and reopened the investigation on January 10, 1863 in Louisville, Kentucky. Another major battle had now left it's bloody print upon the Army, and again it was left alone to observe the carnage, as General Bragg fell back to another line of defense in the south.
Lubliner.
 

Lubliner

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#18
The Buell Commission reconvened on this date in 1863, 156 years ago. During the interim from the 28th of December, the battle of Stone's River had taken place. The full court had now opened a session in Louisville, Kentucky for continuing interrogative matters.
In reality the determination of this court proceeding was the assigned function given to General Buell as his commission. The Army was given to General Rosecrans and renamed The Army of the Cumberland with the change in leadership. This had occurred October 30th, and the President, as @leftyhunter pointed out above, was the one that dismissed General Buell and given command over to Rosecrans.
(cont.) Lubliner.
 

Lubliner

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#19
Lew Wallace had been appointed President of the Commission, and General Buell had made considerable argument in allowing the court to realize his own particular function. The court had tried to drag Buell into a recess for off-record (secret session) agreements on the opening day of Dec. 1, 1862, and were rebuffed at the suggestion. Lew Wallace had come under fire by General Grant during the Shiloh battle for taking the wrong road and arriving late from Crump's Landing. He had occupied a regimental command in Cincinnati when Bragg had invaded Kentucky, and now this court sidelined both favored Generals of Henry Halleck, who had lost whatever Wager placed. (pun intended...flipped wig).
More to come later; Lubliner.
 

Lubliner

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#20
Due to the longevity of this investigation, and the extensive intelligence that was gathered in the court of due process, I shall give a brief breakdown of the format used.
Day 1;- December 1, 1862. Colonel W. H. Lytle was called as a Government witness. He was asked 20 questions by the judge-advocate.
Day 2;-Dec. 2, 1862. Col. Lytle was recalled and asked 25 questions, making a total of 45 for the first two days by the judge-advocate.
Day 3;-Dec.3. Court was off.
Day 4;-Dec 4. Col. Lytle was called again and cross-examined by General Buell. His interrogation amounted to 53 questions, and it was necessary for Buell to correct Lytle twice, and he was excused. The court then proceeded to call it's second witness, Colonel Lewis B. Campbell, who was questioned 23 times by the court, before being cross-examined by General Buell with 37 questions.
Day 5;-A school teacher form La Grange Tennessee was called, named J. T. Pratt, who admitted to being a Secret Service Spy for the Army. He had reported to General Thomas, Buell, and Schoepf when Buell was in Nashville that past August. To date, he had been paid for compensation $180 dollars by General Negley. He was asked 52 questions by the court and General Buell made no comment.
This it the extent of activity which occurred in Cincinnati, Ohio before relocating into Nashville, Tennessee, when it reconvened on December 8, marking the two months' anniversary after the Battle of Perryville, Kentucky.
Lubliner.
 



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