Military rank.--A correspondent demands of us sundry information--‘"can you give us some particulars as to the principles by which our President is governed in his appointments of Generals; and also of the difference between what is called a 'full General' and a Major-General of the Provisional Army?"’ We might plead in reply, that we have never graduated at West Point, nor rubbed up against the walls of the institution; and therefore are to be presumed entirely ignorant of all military matters: or else, if ever so well informed through some miraculous agency unknown to West Point, are not authorized to speak, having no diploma from that crack institution of the North. As editors, however, are a notoriously presumptuous set of people, claiming to hold ‘ --a charter illinoitable as the winds,
To blow on whom they please,
’ we shall make bold to vindicate this reputation, by responding to the interrogatories of our, correspondent; premising, however, that as military learning is not a speciality with the profession, our response on the subject must not be accepted as infallible. In fully appointed armies, we suppose that the order of rank, beginning at the highest grades, is as follows: General, Lieutenant-General, Major-General, Brigadier-General, Colonel, Lieutenant-Colonel, Major, Captain, &c. We believe in the army of the Confederacy there is no such rank as Lieutenant-General; and that next after full General comes Major-General. Whether the rank of Lieutenant-General is unknown to our law or not, it is certain that no officer in the Confederate army holds that commission. All the rest of the grades we have enumerated, however, are represented in the Confederate army. We suppose the full General in the Confederate service corresponds with the Field-Marshal of France, the Lieutenant-General in the Federal service, and the rank usually held by commanders of divisions operating independently in the field, in all the European services. There are five full Generals in the Confederate army, whose relative rank, as among themselves, is as follows: 1. S. Cooper; 2. A. Sydney Johnston; 3. Robert E. Lee; 4. Joseph E. Johnston; 5. G. T. Beauregard.--What principles governed the President in thus arranging the relative rank of these officers, we cannot undertake to explain. We believe that the Confederate Congress sanctioned the schedule, and what the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Congress, has done, let no man question. We will only say, that if we had had the arrangement of relative rank among these Generals, the gradation would have been very different. We believe all the full Generals are graduates of West Point. Within the last month or two quite a number of commissions have been issued for Major-Generals. They have been announced from time to time by the press, as they were issued, and we need not enumerate the recipients of them. Several of them have been conferred in promotion from Brigadier-General-ships; others have been conferred, originally, upon persons holding no previous commission. We believe the oldest commission of Major-General in the Provisional Army of the Confederate States is that of General Polk. We think we are not mistaken in saying that these commissions have, in every case, so far, been conferred on graduates of West Point. Whether it be the intention of the President to confine himself in the conferring of them to that class of persons, we cannot undertake to say; though we trust not; for West Point, however admirable an institution it may be for the formation of drill officers and engineers, and however valuable as a school for tacticians and disciplinarians, is certainly incapable of conferring that genius which is born with and which makes the General. In regard to the principles which govern the President in conferring rank and making promotions, we of course can say but little. It must be remembered that after passing the grade of Colonel, promotion does not go by seniority. Upon the President is conferred an absolute discretion in respect to the commissioning of general officers; subject only to the ratification of Congress. This feature is not peculiar to the Confederate service, but belongs to that of the Federal army, and of course obtains throughout the military establishments of Europe. It is a feature that cannot be changed, and is absolutely necessary to the harmony and efficiency of the service and to the ends of subordination and discipline. If Congress were entrusted with this power, the baneful influence of politics would take possession of the army and utterly demoralize the service. The whole subject of promotion is, therefore, wisely left at the discretion of the President; and we feel bound to say that, so far as we can perceive, the discretion has not been abused. There may be room, here and there, for criticism, and probably mistakes, which are unavoidable by all men, may have been committed; but we see nothing to impeach a sound, just, and patriotic intention on the part of the Executive. When mention is made of commissions in the ‘"Provisional Army"’ of the Confederate States, the meaning is that the commissions are not permanent as if in the regular military service of the Confederacy, but are to cease at the termination of the war. The Provisional Army is raised to meet the exigency of the war, and is not a permanent establishment of the Government. Commissions in the Provisional Army of Confederate States are to be considered in contradistinction to commissions emanating from the States individually. For instance, we believe General Pillow holds a commission as Major-General from the State of Tennessee, while General Polk holds one of the same tenor from the Confederate States. We believe we have practically responded to the interrogatory of our correspondent.