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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Civilians Checking Up On Military Officers—US Civil War

For John, BLUFA Civilian Commander in Chief should not just turn the fighting over to "the generals" but should follow what is happening and who is doing well and who is not.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From the Modern War Institute at West Point, we have a short paper by Major Dan Maurer, on the issue of civil-military relations.  Major Maurer a former Combat Engineer and now an Army JAG, looks at President Lincoln checking on General Ulysses S Grant, when the General was still fighting in the Mississippi River area, around Vicksburg.

Here is the part of the article on Mr Lincoln's "observer", Mr Charles Dana:

Lincoln, through his Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, dispatched the former managing editor of the New York Tribune, Charles A. Dana, now employed as Assistant Secretary of War and the Administration’s go-to “troubleshooter.”  Stanton gave Dana an unusual mission:  He would travel to the Western Theater, ostensibly as a Special Commissioner to investigate and inspect the Army’s paymaster service, but would, actually, observe Grant’s command—of his Army and of himself—and report regularly back to Stanton and Lincoln.  His task was to “settle their minds as to Grant, about whom at that time there were many doubts, and against whom there was some complaint.”
It seems to have been a satisfactory report, in that General Grant was then elevated to the commander of all ground forces.

The flip side of this would be the politicalization of the officer corps, such that officers did not feel free to speak their minds and to provide their civilian masters with that all important "but sir".

Regards  —  Cliff

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