Henry J. Hunt Papers, Box 3, Fold ? "General Correspondence 1884"


32 Washington Square N.Y.

May 27" 1884

My dear Col Lyman

I have just read the debate upon the bill to place Col H. J. Hunt on the retired list as a Major General. I assigned Colonel then Major Hunt to the command of the Artillery Reserve of the Army of the Potomac soon after its organization. He held that command until the arrival of the army on the James river. At the close of the ??? day, when upon Gen Barry’s being relieved from duty, I appointed Hunt to the position of Chief of Artillery. Hunt was more than once applied for by other generals to be assigned to them as commander of brigades of Infantry, but my appreciation of the value of his services in the Artillery was such that I steadfastly resisted all such applications.

His experience with field Artillery in Mexico, his intimate knowledge of the theory and practice of Artillery, his successful ??? in improving the tactics of that arm, his remarkable administrative ability, his extraordinary power of handling masses of Artillery in battle, in brief his peculiar and entire fitness for the position of Chief of Artillery of a large Army in the field so ordered it my duty to call upon him to sacrifice his chances for promotion and his individual interests for the good of the country and the efficiency of the Army under my command, that cheerfully and without a murmur, Hunt acceded to my demand.

I did my best in vain to obtain for him rank and promotion in his own Army but in vain and never permitted myself to doubt that in the end he would receive the just reward for his services and sacrifices. In the Armies of the great Military Powers his command would have been regarded as the equivalent of an Army Corps and would have received the corresponding rank and reward. If Hunt had been permitted to take command of a Brigade of Infantry he would long before the close of the war have been in command of an Army Corps at least. In view of the fact that he sacrificed his chance of promotion to his sense of duty to his own arm of the service, and the deference to the urgent wishes of at least one of the commanders of the Army of the Potomac, I think the bill in question should be regarded as a simple act of justice, and not as a special favor to him. I admit that such bills should be closely scrutinized, and passed only in extraordinary cases, but this is an extraordinary case, and exceptional case. In fact I know of none others quite like it, and the more carefully it is examined the more clear will it be that it is a proper case for extraordinary action on the part of congress.

Let me say one thing more. The position of Chief of Artillery was not a grade nor was it a definite position or rank in that arm. It was simply a matter of detail or assignment carrying with it vastly increased responsibilitys and duties without any corresponding pay or priviliges.

??? ??? with the earnest hope that this measure of justice may be meted out to one who served his country so long, so gallantly and so ably and that this debt of gratitude so long due may now be paid.

I am sincerely your friend

Geo. B. McClellen (signed)

Col. Theo Lyman

U. S. House Rep. Washington D.C.

A true copy

The bill was passed retiring Gen. Hunt as Major Genl. President Arthur refused to sign it.