Smith, brevetted to brigadier general during the Civil War, appeals to Secretary of War Stanton that he has been unjustly denied the permanent rank of colonel, and asks to be promoted to that rank prior to his retirement.

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Smith, brevetted to brigadier general during the Civil War, appeals to Secretary of War Stanton that he has been unjustly denied the permanent rank of colonel, and asks to be promoted to that rank prior to his retirement.
Autograph Letter signed: "J. R. Smith/Bvt. Brig. Genl. &/Major U.S. Army", 4 pages (integral leaf), 8x10. Detroit, Michigan, 1866 December 19. "To the Honorable Secretary of War" [Edwin Stanton]. In full: "I have the honor to present the following statement, for which I respectfully ask your careful examination, and such action as, in your opinion, will be just and proper. I was suffering from wounds received in Mexico - aggravated by Service Diarrhea, for several years after the war with Mexico. From the year 1849 to June 1857, I was able to perform recruiting duty, and was kept in that service, at Buffalo, during the above time; when I was retired - on being promoted to Major of the 7th US Infantry, and not being able to travel to join my Regiment, I went to Monroe, Michigan, and there I made monthly reports, based on proper certificates, sometimes furnished by Surgeon Tripler - and sometimes by his civilian physician. In 1861, I was improving in health, when in the month of February or March of that year, a vacancy occurred, which should by right have made me a Lieut. Colonel, as I was the Senior Major, and entitled to the Promotion unless I was to be punished - for having been wounded in action - and forfeit that honorable advancement, to which every high minded soldier looks forward, with pleasant anticipation. I read in the newspapers, the assignation of the office which would create the vacancy, to which I was entitled. And I wrote a letter to the Adj. Genl. Claiming the promotion and saying that although not entirely well, I should make the effort to join my post, on being promoted. I never received any reply to my letter, but an officer was appointed to the vacancy, over my head, and I was, a few months subsequently on 25th Sept. 1861, retired from active service, as a Major, whereas everything, my long Service, my wound, and my seniority for promotion, all pronounced that I should have been promoted before being retired. Indeed, this has been the practice in several cases where an officer, near promotion, was to be retired - to retain him in active Service, until promotion, and then retire him. I was ordered before the Board, which retired me on 25th September - and strange to say, the officer who was promoted over my head, was ordered before the same Board. It is true he was not retired at that time; but he was subsequently retired from active Service, as a full Colonel, while I, who was justly entitled to the vacancy which he filled, was retired as a major. It certainly has the appearance that I was to be punished for the offense of having been wounded in action and suffered for the course of ten or twelve years. It has been said to me - submit your case to the Honorable Secretary of War, who has shown an especial interest in the case of retired officers. I lay it before you Sir; and ask as a remedy to what I consider this great injustice, that I may be appointed a Colonel, of one of the new Regiments now in process of organization; and having been thus appointed, to be retired with that grade. I have served as a commissioned officer, near forty four years, and am sixt-four years of age. I will state in addition that, on the 3rd January, 1862, only a short time after I was retired, I was ordered on duty, here in Michigan, where I have discharged the difficult office of Superintendent of Volunteer Recruiting - Mil. Commander Mustering & Discharge Officer and A.C.S. and Courts Martial for this Department. Please pardon me for giving you trouble in this matter. I am Sir, very respectfully your obedient servant." JOSEPH ROWE SMITH (1802-1868) graduated from West Point in 1823. He fought in the Florida War (1837-1842) and the Mexican War, where he was brevetted to major for gallantry at Cerro Gordo and to Lt. Colonel at Churubusco, at which latter battle he suffered the severe arm injury from which, as he attests in this letter, he never fully recovered. Brevet appointments were, however, temporary, as Smith well knew. He was indeed recalled to military service in the Civil War, serving as a mustering officer in Michigan. The final resolution of this appeal is unknown, but the Gallery possesses a letter (Doc. 87068) written in reply by Assistant Adjutant General Thomas M. Vincent on December 28, instructing Smith to forward his records to the War Department. Lightly toned. 2 horizontal 1 vertical fold creases. Parts of the letter lightly smeared but legible. Otherwise fine condition.

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