An Aide-De-Camp of Lee
Charles Marshall

[Notes: Chapter 1]

1 This incident is not mentioned by Jefferson Davis in his Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, nor is there any reference to it in the voluminious correspondence contained in Jefferson Davis, Constitutionalist; His Letters, Papers, and Speeches, while it appears to have escaped the notice of Lee’s biographers, except for a brief reference in Long’s Memoirs of R. E. Lee. The Journal of the Congress of the Confederate States of America, 1861–1865, shows (vol. II, p. 34) that on march 4, 1862, the House of Representatives reported to the Senate “An Act to create the office of Commanding General of the Armies of the Confederate States.” Five days later, on March 10, there is a reference to a bill wiht the same title (vol. II, p. 47). As the bill, vetoed by the President, did not become law, it is not included in Public Laws of the Confederate States of America, passed at the first session of the first Congress.

2 After the fall of Forts Henry and Donelson, anxiety in the Confederacy gave rise to much criticism of Davis. On March 13, 1862, Davis wrote to W. M. Brooks, circuit judge of Alabama, defending himself in a long letter against charges of carrying on the war on a purely defensive system; of keeping his generals in leading strings; and of treating the Secretary of War as a “mere clerk.” (See Jefferson Davis, Constitutionalist, vol. V, p. 222.) It was the uneasy feeling that there was something wrong with Davis’s methods of conducting war that stirred Congress to action. Colonel Marshall here indicates the chief defect in the war organization of the Confederacy—the lack of means of coördinating the operations of the several armies. This defect became much more pronounced when Lee ceased to be the President’s adviser.

3 The order ran: “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 of the armies of the Confederacy.”; March 13, 1862. See Official Records, vol V, p. 1099.

4 See Lee’s letter to his wife, July 12, 1861: “I have never heard of the
assignment to which you refer of commander-in-chief of the Southern Army, nor have I any expectation or wish for it. President Davis holds that position.”

5 After his appearance on the field of the first battle of Manassas, at the close of the battle, Davis but rarely interfered with the actual operations of his generals in the field, though he did interfere in matters of administration and personnel. His were sins rather of omission than of commission. He failed to see that he needed expert assistance if the operations of armies were to be maintained effectively, with the result that too often they were not maintained.

6 An Act to provide a staff and clerical assistance for any general who may be assigned by the President to duty at the seat of Government. March 25, 1862. See Public Laws of the Confederate States of America, Richmond, 1862.

7 Not all these officers were appointed at the same time. Marshall was, as he tells us, appointed on March 21, 1862, in anticipation of the Act of Congress. Long afterwards Brigadier General A. L. Long, the author of the Memoirs of Robert E. Lee, the best contemporary life of Lee, was appointed on April 19. This little group formed the nucleus of Lee’s military family. Marshall was the fifth, from Maryland.

8 The Federals captured Roanoke Island on February 8, 1862.

9 Lincoln’s answer to the first battle of Manassas was a call for 500,000 men for three years.

10 There were no exceptional military preparations in Europe in 1861, but the European armies had no large surplus stocks of arms available for sale.

11 Lee was at this time (February 1862) in general charge of the coast defenses of the Carolinas.

12 For an explanation of why cotton was not king see Professor Channing’s History of the United States, vol. VII.

13 A. S. Johnston to Davis, March 18, 1862: “Believing it to be of the
greatest moment to protract the campaign, as the dearth of cotton might bring strength from abroad and discourage the North and gain time to strengthen myself by new troops from Tennessee and other States, I magnified my forces to the enemy, but made known my true strength to the Department and to the Governors of the States.” Official Records, vol.
II, p. 259.

14 This is the best explanation of which I know of Lincoln’s action in issuing, on January 27, 1862, his much criticized War Order No. I. In this order he fixed Washington’s birthday, February 22, as the day “for a general advance by the land and naval forces of the United States.”

15 One of the first acts of the Senate of the first Congress of the Confederacy was to pass a resolution: “That the President be requested to communicate to the Senate in secret session if not incompatible with the public interest, the instructions to and correspondence with all the Commissioners to this Government now in Europe.” March 3, 1862. Journal of the Congress of the Confederate States of America, vol. II, p. 30.

16 May 30, 1862.