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General Orders No.62

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Enacted by the War Department on August 20th 1861, General Orders No.62 helped establish the relative seniority of these officers (in order): 

  1. MGen Henry Halleck
  2. BGen W.T. Sherman
  3. BGen Don Carlos Buell
  4. BGen John Pope
  5. BGen U.S. Grant
  6. BGen Stephen Hurlbut
  7. BGen B.M. Prentiss
  8. BGen John McClernand
  9. BGen Lew Wallace (effective 3 September 1861)

Of interest, because prior to reviewing this list, I had always assumed that U.S. Grant, hyper-sensitive to questions of seniority, had departed the field at Fort Donelson and visited Flag-Officer Foote aboard his ironclad, without assigning an acting officer-in-charge in his absence, out of neglect of duty. Now, having a greater appreciation for the tension that was developing between Grant and McClernand, I suspect that he avoided putting McClernand in charge... intentionally (with nearly fatal consequences.)

Also of interest: I was of the belief that U.S. Grant was the senior Brigadier General from Illinois.  Not true. John Pope was appointed to West Point from Illinois; and his home-of-record was Illinois at the time of the Secession Crisis.

(The above seniority was valid until Grant was promoted Major General, effective February 16th 1862.)






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Grant had a pretty eventful few weeks there. Halleck tried to replace him a couple of days after Fort Henry fell, then he's promoted to second-in-command of Halleck's department, then he's effectively stripped of command before being restored thanks to Lincoln tapping Halleck on the shoulder and asking about it. 

Good point about Fort Donelson though. Grant's absence effectively froze his army in place when the Confederate attack hit, since he left orders not to bring on an engagement. Fortunately for him and his army Lew Wallace finally decided he had to respond to McClernand's understandably desperate pleading. But Grant and McClernand revealed an obviously mutual dislike when they met a short time later. McClernand pointedly said that the army was in need of a head, and Grant just as pointedly agreed.

The experience probably served Grant well a few weeks later at Shiloh, but you get the feeling his thoughts right then were along the lines of, "I leave you guys alone for five minutes, and look what happens." Grant and his army did well after the initial surprise, but they also had some good fortune on their side. 


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And the 'McClernand Problem' was festering, potentially influencing Grant's decision not to appoint him as officer-in-charge during General Grant's absence to visit Flag-Officer Foote. This resulted in Lew Wallace wasting valuable time, trying to get authorization from Grant (who wasn't there), when Acting-Commander McClernand (appointed by General Grant IAW Army Regulations) could have exercised authority for timely assistance from Wallace, without question.


N.B.  In my Civil War reading, I often encounter reference to 'General Orders No. 191' or 'General Orders No. 999...' with no idea what those orders actually said. I have run across a resource on the internet that records all the Union Army General Orders, divided into volumes, as per year of issue: http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/001621492  (General Orders of the War Department, available at HathiTrust)



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