of the latter to make way for an aspirant having greater ‘influence.’
The correspondence of that period shows the indignation felt in the army at such disregard of the just claims of officers and of the interests of the military service.
Neither General Sherman
nor any of the several higher officers at that time could hope to derive any advantage from the passage of the act of Congress, then pending, to retire all officers at a fixed age. On the contrary, such a law would most probably cut them off when in the full prime of activity and usefulness.
But all were more than willing to accept that rather than still be in a position to be arbitrarily cut off to make place for some over-ambitious aspirant possessed of greater influence, of whatever kind.
I know perfectly well that General Sherman
was governed by a generous desire to give General Sheridan
command of the army for a number of years, while the latter was still in the prime of life.
But that he could have done, and had announced his intention to do, by requesting to be relieved from the command and permitted to await the President
's orders, performing such duties, from time to time, as the President
might desire of him. Such a status of high officers of great experience, whose inspections, observations, and advice might be of great value to the President
and to the War Department, would manifestly have been far better for the country than that of total retirement, which deprives the President
of any right to call upon them for any service whatever, even in an emergency.
This was one of the subjects of correspondence between General Sherman
and me while I was in Europe
But it was finally agreed by all concerned that it would be best to favor the uniform application of the rule of retirement for age, so that all might be assured, as far as possible, of a time, to which they might look forward with certainty, when they would be relieved from further apprehension of treatment which