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Henry J. Hunt Papers, Box 5, "General Correspondence 1888 April-May"
S. H. Washington, April 17, 1888

My dear Colonel,

    I received your’s of 14o yesterday just as I was going to town, and I must go there again this morning but have a short period at my disposal and improve it. Gen(?) Wilson is the man you mean. I hear that he resigned to go into the railroad business in the west and was at St. Louis. And I am sorry to hear that he has not been successfull. He was an Engineer officer, and was given a corps of cavalry and with it the commission of a Major-General, of course. He was a man ? to the purpose for my talk, with Chairman Townsend standing by, but he is not a member of the ? Committee nor of Congress. He and Mr. T are I am told great friends and they were leaving the committee room together. It so happened that there was some similarity in his case and Warren’s - both Engineers, both given a corps command - one of infantry the other of cavalry - and Warrens rank by its date needs to show that it was for engineer service, therefore it was that, saying what I did to him must if he has any insight, have shown to Townsend


the exact bearings of the case, which if Wilson saw and appreciate, and he seemed to do so, would make the whole matter of easy explanation by him to Mr. Townsend.

    Yes: I would have been very glad to receive whilst on the active list the rank of brigadier - it would have been perfectly satisfactory, - and I would not have asked for higher position on the retired list, - for there were but few such commissions, only six, in the Army. And it would have been a full recognition both of my own service and the services of my arm - at least it would have been a proper acknowledgement for you must remember that Barry is dead, - that no other artillery officer - except Brannan in a western army and for a short period, temporarily held such position. After Gettysburg, the President as the reward for Gettsyburg made Meade a brigadier in the army, the very first vacancy that occured - this was all he could do at the time. And it would have been simply absurd in (The following was crossed out in the original text: him) (The following was inserted above this sentence: Meade) to decline it. It was all that the president could give, at the time and it was not for Meade to decline it. So I would not have declined (The following was crossed out in the original text: the) it, (The following was inserted above this sentence and crossed out in the original text: and) even


as late as 1883. After nearly twenty years waiting and seeing my juniors in length of service continually promoted to it over my head, Terry for Fort Fisher, Howard for his piety, Mackenzie for cmnd a cavalry brigade in the last year of the war and this ? additional reward of a leap from Capt of Engr to Col of infantry, conferred in 1867. A brigadiership then with the correspondant position on the retired list would have been all nice enough, and I would have accepted with thanks: but after retirement an act passed congress to give me as a measure of my services, and necessarily in recognition of artilley service for I knew no other. The rank of Maj-Genl, which by two commissions(?) (Inserted above this sentence: in vol and regular services) of that grade by brevet the president had stated that I had (The following was crossed out in the original text: gained) (Inserted above this sentence: earned). You know how I lost that. Well now. Here is a bill with half a dozen ‘whereas’s’ that I had earned the rank, that I had in war and peace exercised it, for the government for seven years with out (Inserted above this sentence: receiving) any of its pay or benefits, that I was exercising it when retired, and therefore, . . . . I should be rated as a brigadier, on the retired list.

    Isn’t this not only a lame, and impotant conclusion? Worse in thus departing the from the precedent. And retirement as (Inserted above this sentence: as head(?) (The following was crossed out in the original text: M Genl)) Major Genl


after the ??????; is it not a contract, and one that not only may be but must be construed thus - "After five years examination, Congress revises its former action, retiring Gen Hunt as Maj Genl. And considers that (The following was crossed out in the original text: his) the position of brigadier on the retired list is a proper reward for his artilly service - (it is recited in the preamble that I commanded the artilly corps of the A Potomac). So it strikes me, such will be the record, in this way will it be construed, and it will be held hereafter by the army administration that Congress has deliberately assigned to commander of Artilly Corps this position and (Inserted above this sentence: so) ? its inferiority to (The following was crossed out in the original text: that of) infantry, cavaly and engineers. In this I judge of the future by the past, the artilly has not only been thus treated for the last forty years. - As I think my Boston paper shown it has been proscribed (The following was inserted above this sentence: by theArmy administration) in all it grades from general down to major. Look at ? genl orders when (war Dept) quoted in that Boston paper of mine. "Artilly will hereafter be received into service by single batteries, so as to save the expense of artilly field officers." i.e. they are not worth their salt. This doubled my labors, and responsibilities, it took from me all


hope of making (The following was inserted above this sentence: the) artilly service what it should be, it condemned me to hopeless hard labor, without prospect of reward either in rank or reputation. And most of all it leaves me the sole representative of my arm, and the custodian, or defender or whatever you may choose to call it, of its reputation and character. You will see from all this that I place myself on the defensive. And l’excuse succuse(?)! I am defending myself to myself as well as to you, for not accepting this position (The following was inserted above this sentence: which my family sorely needs). By accepting I place myself in the position either of ratifying its justice or of compromising (The following was inserted above this sentence: it for personal benefit). I have sacrificed too much already by acquiescing in the decision that I "could not be spared from the artillery," and so sacrificing all the chances of an easier mode of securing professional rank, or distinction, or reputation. The artilley cannot on a large, I mean the largest scale, ? the brilliant or striking or exclusive service that infantry or cavalry can - e.g. It was Hancock’s corps, (The following was inserted above this sentence: the whole corps), that occupied Cemetery Ridge. It was the "corps" that received


credit, other corps there were but they were not on the immediate ground. There was artilley there. Not only that of the corps, but of the artilly reserve my special command - In fact considerably more than half the artilly on the ridge was mine - at least was not of this corps - and then other effective guns on the flanks "out ?" ? guns on Cemetry Hill, and Rittenhouse’s on Little Round Top. And this attilly had a very considerable part in the success, and it ought to have gone to its credit, but no, all this credit went to the (Inserted above this sentence: 2o) corps, and helped to swell its renown and that of its commander - to the exclusion of that of his (The following was crossed out in the original text: own arm) artilley. This is only an illustration.

    Let me now give you another illustration. It is quite fashionable throughout the army, as well as in the War Department to decry the artilly as a very safe - deliberate - almost noncombatant corps in war. Instance Grant’s late utterances which are much in the strain of Sheridan and somewhat of Sherman and their people - and it is especially, a cavalry point (The following was crossed out in the original text: ? it) (The following was inserted above this sentence: which) is getting to be dubbed "the fighting arm of service". Read Kings "The Colonels Daughter," a capital novel in its way, and by the way. Now I have been looking


to the official returns of Gettysburg. The strength of the cavalry was from 13 to 14,000 men, that of the arty from 6 to 7,000 (The following was inserted above this sentence: about half). The loss in killed & wounded in the cavalry (The following was inserted above this sentence: reported) 651, in the artilly 689. And there is counted in the ‘cavalry’ loss that of the Horse Artilly serving with it; from June 28 to July 31 the horse arty lost 53 of whom 31 can at the least be counted for Gettysburg subtracting this from the Cavy and adding it to the Art loss give Cavaly loss 620 Art loss 720, (and it must be remembered that a portion of the Arty; mechanics drivers etc. never go under fire except when the battery is short handed)

    (The following was inserted above this sentence: 18o Anniversary of Cerro Gordo!!) Now then after all this ? I am by no means disposed to accept the brigadiership, which for any other arm would have been a Major Generals, It would be (The following was crossed out in the original text: in the past(?) of Congress) (The following was inserted above this sentence: the congressional idea of) "a reward proportioned to the service," it would, (The following was inserted above this sentence: at least), be so considered in the army and by the artillery, and the whole burden of acquiesence in it would fall on my shoulders. Here is just my feeling. I have made many sacrifices in this matter (The following was inserted above this sentence: of my service), and perhaps the worst is now required, - for the non-acceptance falls heavily on my family - but I don’t know how long I should live and how little they may get. If I should not live long. I am not paid in lucre for the sacrifices. If I do live long


I may be able to establish my family as things stand. But anything I desire to save from the general work of my life, and that is my self-respect, and I don’t know that I will be able to keep it if I accept this now. It is a very hard trial and I (The following was inserted above this sentence: almost) wish I had kept my cursed bill out of Congress; it has been a source of humiliation and anxiety, and worry to me for five years nearly, and I am sick of it. And of Congress, (The following was inserted above this sentence: too). I can’t imagine how things will turn out, there is a bare chance of things coming right.

    I see that the pension of $5000 is profered for my waite. I hope and trust that if not that, - that half that sum be given to the daughters of ? Fanny. I am glad you give me the extract from the Dred Scot Decision. It is what I have remembered of it and always said. But the present generation can hardly believe it. Judge Garrey(?) put the matter in the proper light when at the close of a paper explaining the facts and denying the charges he said something like this, - "Yet what is the use of correcting


those who act on the principle that the end justifies the means."

    I was stopped yesterday in writing. Had to go to town for business which left me a couple of liesure hours and I went to see Mrs. ? J. Lee and Mrs Harrison. Found them well and wishing to know when you would come. I suppose it will not be very long before Mrs. H. returns to Leesburg.

    In looking at your letter I see you think you could do nothing with the ? Com? They have it all before them and I don’t think it worth while to say another word. It is that thing of ‘urging’ matters on them that I dislike so much. You have touched the cause, in your reference to the numbers of this House At least I have always so thought - there are too many members - or too few - and this suggests the differences between our H of Rep and the English Commons or French deputies each 700 or 800 strong. This allows them to have large committees for all the objects of legislation. The work is done in the committee rooms, and except in important matters of interest to the ‘world’(?) little is done by the House of Commons as(?) the reports of committees on minor matters are approved


as a matter of course - the desks and writing facilities as I understand it are in the committee rooms. They ought to be torn out of our Representative Hall. Perhaps it would require say 600 representatives - then they could have working committees - Now their committee are ? small. Each subject is referred to a subcommittee, of one if it is a private motion, of four or five if of public and important nature, the ? Comte has fourteen members, - there are six subcommittees, of five members each, 1 on army appropriations, 2 ?????? - 3 army organization, 4 ?????? cemeteries, barracks, quarters etc. 5 public defence and armament 6 muster, ?????? etc.etc. Now each member of the comtee is on at least two of there sub comtee; he is heading(?) a "sub-committee by himself. On innumerable small bills, like mine, - he is also a member of other house comtee, pensions, agriculture, and the like, and of their sub committees and sub-sub committees. The consequence is that many neglect their duties - those who don’t are driven to death by the demands on them. I think this latter is the cause of my present trouble. Was so small in the committee dealing with any given subject that the others "overhaul" their action. E.g. it is very important in a case like mine to have it referred to the


‘right man’ it helps ? - but then the subcommittee is by no means certain to accept what he says - and in full committee each has his ‘favorite crotchet(?),’ like Mr. ?. as to the ? of putting certain people on retired list, or promoting them. One would think that the principle being ? accepted the member could give his attention to the particular case under the ruling, - but no, everything is fought over. Well I won’t follow it out, the comtee makes its report to the committee of the whole. It is not as in England & France content to accept of course but it must be fought over again. Is is exasperating to see a member writing a letter whilst a report is being read and then jumping up uttering a howl and demanding information on such and such a point, and learn that the report just read cover everthing. My case is double the House double the committees. And give but few ? to the full House (The following was inserted above this sentence: and so stop their gabble). Dear me what stuff I write.

    I hope that nibble has developed by this time into a bite, and that bait, hook and all are swallowed. I will close now. If you were not a heathen, - at


least an uncircumcised philistine, you might go the the nearest church, and thank God that this letter has come to a close. But your day of deliverance is near and a good ride on horseback will be an excellent substitute for writing ? letters and reading them afterwards.

    My people ?????? all well and ?????? I am ? and have been free from attacks since I last wrote. I expect Cutler to challenge me to a ? today.

As Ever Truly Your Friend
Henry J. Hunt