seems never to have been satisfactorily done by any President
and the general appear to have been left to arrange that as best they could, or to leave it unarranged.
However this may be, the relations of the general to the President
are, or ought to be, of the most confidential character, no less so than those of any member of the cabinet.
And the necessity of that confidential relation is far more important than in the case of any cabinet officer, for the reason that it is brought into prominence in times of great emergency, when questions of peace and war are involved, and when the President
is required to act upon momentous military questions about which he cannot, in general, have much knowledge, and hence must trust to the ability, judgment, discretion, and scientific military knowledge of the general-in-chief
In such cases the general becomes, as it were, the ‘keeper of the President
's conscience’ in respect to the most momentous questions he can ever have to decide.
It is necessarily extremely embarrassing to the President
to be compelled to place or retain in that close, confidential, and important relation to himself an officer in whom he has not entire confidence in all respects; or else, as the only alternative, by selecting another, to cast a reflection upon the senior in rank, whose soldierly character and services may have entitled him to the highest distinction.
The situation is no less embarrassing, under the existing law and custom, to the officer who may at any time happen to be the senior in commission.
He may be compelled to submit to the humiliation of being superseded by some junior in rank, or else to occupy a confidential position of great importance in the absence of that confidence which is necessary to make such a position even tolerable to himself or to the army, which must inevitably be deprived of his legitimate influence for good if he does not enjoy the confidence of the President
and the Secretary of War
There can be no relief