In no other way, it is believed, can the duties imposed upon a constitutional commander-in-chief who is not possessed of military education and experience be fully and conscientiously performed.
Indeed, such is the method pursued by great military sovereigns all over the world, except in the few instances where the monarch believes himself, either truly or falsely, superior in military ability to his chief of staff.
It is only in this country, where the chief of state has generally no military training, and his war minister the same, that a chief of staff of the army is supposed to be unnecessary.
While it is easy to understand the reasons which led to the action of the government in the spring of 1864, it is much less easy to understand why some reasonable approximation to that course, as above suggested, and in accord with the practice of all military nations, has never been adopted as a permanent system in this country.
Perhaps it may be like the case of that citizen of Arkansas
who did not mend the roof of his house when it was not raining because it did not then need mending.
But it would seem the part of wisdom to perfect the military system so far as practicable in time of peace rather than continue a fruitless controversy over the exact location of an undefined and undefinable line supposed to separate the military administration from the command in the army, or the functions of the Secretary of War
from those of the commanding general
The experience of many years had shown that the Secretary
was sure to get on both sides of that line, no matter where it was drawn.
But it is encouraging to note that some experiments made in more recent years, in the direction of the generally recognized sound military system, have not proved by any means unsatisfactory.
This chronic controversy between the military administration and the command once gave rise to one of the most dangerous crises in American history.