been given with the greatest care, after most rigid scrutiny of the official records and all other evidence presented, laboriously reviewed by the general-in-chief
in person, recommended by him under the universal rule of civilized nations, and approved by the Secretary of War
, whose approval is considered equivalent to the order of the President
, by which alone, under the law, a medal of honor can be granted.
But at length these carefully considered recommendations were disapproved by the Assistant Secretary of War
, on the ground that the soldier had only done his duty!
He had only done, or heroically tried to do until stricken down by the enemy's fire, what his commander had ordered!
Some other standard of soldierly honor was set up, not involving obedience to orders nor discharge of duty, but instead of that some act of each soldier's own volition, as if what a nation most highly honored was independent action of each one of its million of soldiers, without any special regard to the orders of the commander-in-chief
or any of his subordinate commanders!
Thus the most dearly bought honor of a citizen of this great republic, intrusted by Congress to the commander-in-chief
of the army, to be duly awarded to his subordinates, passed into the hands of an Assistant Secretary of War
, to be awarded by him under his own newly invented theory of soldierly merit!
After a laborious but vain attempt to obtain recognition of the time-honored standard of soldierly honor and merit, the general-in-chief
was forced to admit that the new standard set up by the Assistant Secretary of War
did not afford him any intelligible guide by which he could be governed in making his recommendations, and hence he requested to be relieved by the Secretary of War
from consideration of such cases in future, presuming that the vital question would thus, as a matter of course, receive the personal
consideration of the Secretary
The formal action of the ‘Secretary of War
,’ relieving the