10 March 1862: “Subordination to Lee is one thing, subordination to Pemberton an entirely different thing.”

Item description: In this letter, dated 10 March 1862, William Henry Trescot, a South Carolina state legislator, wrote to William Porcher Miles, a member of the Confederate Congress, to complain of the injustice of Brigadier General Roswell S. Ripley being placed in a subordinate position to Major General John C. Pemberton. Trescot also sought a promotion to Brigadier General for States Rights Gist, then an Adjutant General.

Item citation: folder 49 in the William Porcher Miles Papers #508, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item transcription:


March 10, 1862

My Dear Miles

I had intended writing you two or three days ago on a matter I think of great importance to the city but have been absent from town for a while. During my absence Gen Ripley has written to you himself.

I am sure that to those who have seen all that Ripley has done for the city defenses his services cannot be overated. Fort Sumter and the lines are works that  will speak no doubtful language and I would be writing to take Gen Lees opinions on the value of such services. he was the very first man of military education who gave the Southern cause his services and they have been since given steadily not only without appreciation but almost against the stiff and ungracious prejudices of the Executive. How he has been hampered in all that he has done and all that he wished to do none can tell but those who have been with him.

Gen Lee has been removed and Gen Pemberton is now in command. Subordination to Lee is one thing, subordination to Pemberton an entirely different thing. In the one case I think Gen Riply would have been wrong to object, in the latter I think he will be wrong to submit.

Whatever Gen Pembertons reputation and whatever he has done (unknown here certainly) to be made a Major General, it is a great and crying injustice to allow him to contrive Riply in this military district_ The defence of Charlestin, waterfront, is perfect, without his help: all the work has been done by Riply _ on the land side all the works are his and I trust the men will be found to man them.

Gen Pemberton has done well in his district, admirably well and all credit to him for it but district for district and the work and credit are at least equal. Whatever Pemberton may deseve, give him  but not by taking away from Riply who is fairly entitled to the command untrammelled in this district. Pemberton cannot supply his place here and if he could, by using his labours, ought not.

The command here ought to be that of a Major Gen, with his Brigadiers in support on each side of Charleston and Riply ought to be given that rank. I really believe that he does not desire it_ that all he asks is not to be interfered with but I don’t see how that can be done if Pemberton is left here with superior rank.

He will not submit to such interference and in my opinion and in the opinion of many others of more consideration, he might not to be withdrawn from this place under any circumstances_

If we are to have any new Brigadiers, do let me beg you to urge the claims of Gist, the present Adj. General. He is altogether better fitted for the appointment than any man who has been named. I am not speaking merely my own opinion but if such appointment is contemplated, can furnish you with ample corroboration of my estimate. Means, Harlee and Tville are too bad for argument altho I beg pardon sincerely of Means & Harlee for putting them in the sentence with Treville and DuSaussure from all I hear is no great deal better _ but I do not want to interfere against any one but only in favour of Gist who I believe is best fitted for the place.

The truth is, Lee going makes a muss and I hope your wisdom and influence will help to get us out of it_

I enclose two papers from the Courier which I think will interest you.


Wm. H. T_

Hon W P Miles

What has become of the cabinet — will Mallery be saved from the deluge by making an ark of the Merrimac?

This entry was posted in Southern Historical Collection and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.