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Special Orders No.141

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When General Orders No.62 were promulgated on August 20th, 1861, listing all the men appointed/confirmed by the U.S. Senate to be Brigadier Generals and Major Generals of the U.S. Army, there were a number of glaring omissions, and eyebrow-raising oddities. First, the omissions: on a document that purported to list all the Federal generals and their rank/seniority relative to one another, there is no mention of Major General George McClellan, Major General John Fremont, or Brigadier General Robert Anderson (Union Hero of Fort Sumter.) As to the curiosities: General Orders No.62 ranked approximately fifty general officers by order of seniority; and George H. Thomas (future Rock of Chickamauga) is second-last (below Stephen Hurlbut and John McClernand.) And career army officer, and former Commandant of Cadets at West Point, Charles Ferguson Smith, did not make the list at all.

The other oddity: for some reason, Illinois and other states decided to back-date the effective date of rank of all their brigadier generals, appointed up until August 17th, to 17 May 1861. This ex post facto arrangement resulted in confusion, and led to the conflict between BGen U.S. Grant (appointed brigadier on August 7th) and BGen B.M. Prentiss (appointed in May.)

Special Orders No.141, issued by the War Department on August 24th, 1861, included McClellan, Fremont and Anderson; and further clarified the pecking order among and between the Federal general officers, while upholding the seniority introduced by General Orders No.62.



N.B.  Charles F. Smith was appointed Brigadier General on August 31, 1861.


References:  http://www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=1394    (General Orders No.62 of August 20, 1861)

http://ehistory.osu.edu/books/official-records/107/0455     (Special Orders No.141 of August 24, 1861)



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