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Joseph Wheeler.

His rank by Commission in the C. S. Army-Major-General.

Interesting incidents in the journey southward of President Davis.


The following communication from an esteemed supporter of the Southern Historical Society Papers, and a gallant follower of Wade Hampton, is of interest incidentally, apart from the conclusive evidence it presents of the permanent rank in the Confederate States Army of General Joseph Wheeler. It is but just to the valiant warrior to state that he has made no claim to the rank of Lieutenant-General by commission, and that there has been published such disclaim.

Inadvertently the subscriber reprinted in the last volume (31) of the Papers, pp. 189-192, a statement from Rev. J. Wm. Jones, D. D., in the issue of the Times-Dispatch of January 12, 1904, in which among the commissioned Lieutenant-Generals is that (the 20th) of Joseph Wheeler. There has been rank ascribed to other officers of the C. S. Army to which they were not entitled by actual commission, but the editor should not be held even for implication on mooted points, nor should he be supposed to guarantee correctness of any statement save such as he may be assured of by individual cognizance. He has charity for the foibles of all men, cherishes malice toward none, and abhors controversy—oftenest idle.

R. A. Brock, Sec. So. His. Society.



My Dear Sir,—Allow me to recall thyself to your recollection.

I have very pleasant memories of our meetings in the past. I observe, published in the last volume of the Southern Historical Society Papers a letter from you, in which it is stated that Gen. Joseph Wheeler was a Lieutenant-General, C. S. A. I think that [42] you will find this to be a mistake, and that the highest rank attained by Gen. Wheeler was that of Major-General. You will find all of Wheeler's orders and dispatches up to the end of the war signed ‘Major-General.’ You will observe, too, that he could not possibly have been commissioned after the fall of Richmond, as there was after that no so session of the C. S. Senate to confirm an appointment.

In the list of West Point graduates who became officers in the Confederate Army, which was reprinted in the columns of the Riehmond Dispatch (issues of March 30, April 6, 27, and May 12, 1902) Wheeler is set down as “Lieutenant-General.”

As this is stated to have been supervised by Capt. W. Gordon McCabe, I wrote to him calling his attention to this. He replied that he had known that Wheeler was not a Lieut.—General, as he had conclusive proof of this, and had furnished his name for the West Point list as “Major-General.” This seems definitely to settle the point, but Gen. Wade Hampton told me that in an interview he had with President Davis in North Carolina, when the latter was arranging for his escape southward, he offered the President an excort of 5,000 mounted volunteers, which he guaranteed to raise at once.

Mr. Davis, however, declined this offer on the ground that such a force would attract too much attention, and would not be sufficiently mobile for his purposes.

Gen. Hampton then suggested that with a small escort the President should take Gen. Wheeler to accompany him, as the latter would be useful, being well-known in much of the country through which the party would probably have to pass, and that he (the President) should confer on Wheeler the title of Lieut.-General, in order to increase his prestige and influence with the people of the country. But, the latter part of the proposition the President positively refused to accede to.

This, alone, would prove that Wheeler was not at that time a Lieutenant-General, and he could not possibly afterward have become one.

Yours sincerely,

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