J. E. Johnston to J. Davis, on Rank
(From Varina Howell Davis,Jefferson Davis, Ex-President of the Confederate States of America: A Memoir by His Wife 2:144–53 [see text chapter 12]; variant in War of the Rebellion: Official Records, 4, 1:605–8)
Sir: I have had the honor to receive through the War Department a copy of the proceedings of Congress on August 31, 1861, confirming the nominations made by the President of the Confederate States of five Generals of the Confederate Army and fixing their relative rank.
I will not affect to disguise the surprise and mortification produced in my mind by the action taken in this matter by the President and by Congress. I beg to state further, with the most profound respect for both branches of the Government, that these proceedings are in violation of my rights as an officer, of the plighted faith of the Confederacy, and of the Constitution and laws of the land. Such being my views, lest my silence should be deemed significant of acquiescence, it is a duty as well as a right on my part, at once to enter my earnest protest against the wrong which I conceive has been done me. I now and here declare my claim that, notwithstanding the nominations made by the President, and their confirmation by Congress, I still rightfully hold the rankof first General in the armies of the Southern Confederacy. I will proceed briefly to state the grounds upon which I rest this claim.
The act of the Confederate Congress of March 6, 1861, section 8, amended by that of March 14, 1861, section 2, creates the grade of Brigadier-General as the highest rankin their service, and provides that there shall be five officers of that grade. The fifth section of the 577