March 12, 1864: Dramatis Personae



With the ending of winter, the campaign of 1864 was coming close, as careful observers could tell by two executive orders issued by Lincoln.  The first on March 12, 1864 detailed the new command structure, with Grant made General-in-Chief, Sherman placed in command in the West, and McPherson commanding the Army of the Tennessee.  Grant was depending upon his command team from the Army of the Tennessee to win the War in the West, while he took command of the Army of the Potomac.  The useless Halleck was demoted from General-in-Chief and made Chief of Staff.  It is characteristic of Lincoln that he spared the feelings of Halleck by indicating that the demotion was at his request and thanking him for his completely barren services.  The second executive order, calling for a draft of 200,000 men, was issued on March 14, a sure sign that the fighting this year would likely dwarf what had come before.  Here is the text of the executive order of March 12:






WASHINGTON , March 12, 1864.

The President of the United States orders as follows:

I. Major-General H. W. Halleck is, at his own request, relieved from duty as General in Chief of the Army, and Lieutenant-General U. S. Grant is assigned to the command of the armies of the United States. The headquarters of the Army will be in Washington and also with Lieutenant-General Grant in the field.

II. Major-General H. W. Haileck is assigned to duty in Washington as chief of staff of the Army, under the direction of the Secretary of War and the Lieutenant-General Commanding. His orders will be obeyed and respected accordingly.

III. Major-General W. T. Sherman is assigned to the command of the Military Division of the Mississippi, composed of the departments of the Ohio, the Cumberland, the Tennessee and the Arkansas.

IV. Major-General J. B. McPherson is assigned to the command of the Department and Army of the Tennessee.

V. In relieving Major-General Halleek from duty as General in Chief, the President desires to express his approbation and thanks for the able and zealous manner in which the arduous and responsible duties of that position have been performed.

By order of the Secretary of War:


Assistant Adjutant-General.

Published in: on March 12, 2021 at 5:30 am  Comments (6)  
Tags: , ,