Richmond, I cannot safely grant them at all. To execute these orders consistently and advisedly, there must be a system; if the War Department continues to grant these furloughs without reference to the plan determined on here, confusion and disorganizing collisions must be the result. I have been greatly surprised to-day to receive an order from the War Office, detailing a private for a working-party here. I hazard nothing in saying that a Secretary of War never before, in time of war, made such a detail. In calling your attention to the mischiefs resulting from the orders alluded to above, I assure you I am making no point upon mere official propriety; they are practical evils which are weighing heavily upon this army. Officers, laboring under the impressions that I am in some way responsible for the changes they direct, complain that they are made without consulting their wishes, and in opposition to their plans. The discipline of the army cannot be maintained under such circumstances. The direct tendency of such orders is to insulate the commanding general from his army, to impair his authority with his troops, to diminish his moral as well as his official control over them, and to harass him with the constant fear that his most matured plans may be contravened by orders from the Government which it is impossible for him to anticipate. I respectfully request that you will forbear the exercise of your power upon these points. You have seen proper to intrust to ‘my skill and judgment,’ as you kindly express it, a work full of hazards and difficulties: may I not ask that you will extend your
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