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[98] May 3, 1861, as colonel of the Second Cavalry and Brevet Brigadier-General United States army, and cast his fortunes with the South.

March 6, 1861, a Confederate act of Congress provided for the appointment of four brigadier-generals, that being the highest grade at first created. March 14th a fifth brigadier was added, and it was further provided that in appointments to ‘original vacancies’ in the Confederate army ‘the commissions issued shall bear one and the same date, so that the relative rank of the officers of each grade shall be determined by their former commissions in the United States army, held anterior to the secession of these Confederate States.’ May 16 a supplementary act provided that the five brigadiers should ‘have the rank and denomination of generals, instead of brigadier-general.’

Under the act of March 6 Cooper, Lee and J. E. Johnston had been appointed brigadiers in the Confederate States army. The act of May 16, without further action, made them generals, and it was so understood, as it appears that on July 20 Davis notified Johnston, in answer to an inquiry made while he was marching to reinforce Beauregard at Bull Run, in July, that he ranked as general. This was before any nominations were made. Yet on the 31st of August President Davis nominated five generals, to rank as follows:

1. Samuel Cooper, May 16.

2. Albert Sidney Johnston, May 28.

3. Robert E. Lee, June 14.

4. Joseph E. Johnston, July 4.

5. Gustave T. Beauregard, July 21.

This action of the President greatly incensed Johnston. Under the law he claimed that he was the ranking general, and on September 12 protested to the President in very strong language against his illegal action in the arrangement of the commissions. Johnston felt that he had been wronged. But he says in the ‘Narrative’ that there was no language in his letter which could be construed as improper from a soldier to the President. Johnston had previously (July 24) written to Adjutant-General Cooper protesting against General Lee's acting as commander of ‘the forces.’ On the 29th he again protested that he should disregard all orders coming from ‘headquarters of the forces’ as illegal. These letters all show the raspy state of mind he was in on the subject of rank.

According to Mrs. Davis, on both the letters to Cooper the President simply indorsed the word ‘insubordinate.’ His answer to the letter to himself shows great irritation:

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