The Army of the US Historical Sketches of Staff and Line with Portraits of Generals-in-Chief
Inspector General's Department
By Major J. P. Sanger
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The office of inspector general dates from Dec. 13, 1777, although Lieutenant-Colonel Mottin de la Balme, a French cavalry officer, was appointed by congress July 8, 1777, inspector general of cavalry; and on Aug. 11, M. du Coudray, a French artillery officer, was appointed inspector general of ordnance and military manufactures with the rank of major general. It is not probable that either of these officers performed much service as inspectors, for the entire cavalry force consisted of but four regiments, used chiefly as escorts, messengers and orderlies, while the ordnance and military manufactures were as yet unorganized. De la Balme resigned three months and three days after his appointment, and Du Coudray held his position about one month. He was drowned September 15, while attempting to cross the Schuylkill en route to army headquarters as a volunteer.
On October 26,1777, General Washington assembled a council composed of fourteen general officers which met on the 29th, and among other questions submitted to it, considered the following: "Will the office of inspector general to our army, for the purpose principally of establishing one uniform set of manoeuvres and manual, be advisable, as the time of the adjutant general seems to be totally engaged with other business?" It was apparently the intention that each member of the council should submit his views in writing, but only those of General Sullivan on the subject of the inspectorship have been preserved, and in regard to that he wrote:
"Such an officer will answer an exceedingly good purpose, provided a person who is well versed in the manoeuvres has the appointment, and the major and brigadier generals themselves will take more pains to teach their men to move in large bodies, and perform such manoeuvres as the inspector general will recommend. If the person appointed should only be acquainted with the trick of parade of a single company or regiment, and has not extended his ideas to the movements of armies, it will be rather a disadvantage than benefit to the army."*
The final decision of the council, which every member signed, was that such an officer was desirable, the manual or regulations to be first agreed upon by the commander-in-chief, or a board of officers appointed for the purpose." General Conway, one of the members, was born in Ireland, but educated in France and had served many years in the French army. He came over on an engagement with Messrs. Dean and Franklin, who described him as a soldier of high character and abilities, and one of the most skilful disciplinarians in France. He was commissioned brigadier May 13, 1777, joined the army under Washington who assigned him to the command of a brigade, and participated in the battles of Brandywine and Germantown, and the operations around Philadelphia. He now be-
*Original manuscript, State Department.
came an aspirant for the position of inspector general, and addressed letters to congress proposing a plan of organization.
These letters were referred to the board of war, which, on December 12, 1777, reported to congress that they had considered the letters, and that it was expedient to the promotion of discipline and to the reformation of the various abuses which prevailed in the different departments, that an appointment should be made of an inspector general, whose duties should be to determine, with the consent of the commander-in-chief, the instruction, discipline, strength, and condition of all organizations, their accounts, rations, arms and equipment, and the capacity of all officers; his reports to go to the board of war, and a copy to the majors of regiments, and all complaints and grievances to congress.*
It was further resolved that two inspectors general be appointed, which resulted in the election of Brigadier General Thomas Conway with the rank of major general: the other was not chosen.
Fortunately for the discipline of the army and the conduct of military operations, this plan of administering the inspectorship was not carried out. Its effect was to put the inspector general in direct communication with congress and the board of war. In the hands of Conway, and the board of war as then constituted, such a weapon would have been irresistible, and Washington appears to have fully appreciated the danger. On the 2d of January, 1778, he wrote to the president of congress opposing the appointment of Conway and transmitting an extract from the proceedings of the council of generals, in regard to which he wrote:
"The enclosed extract from the proceedings of a council of general officers will show the office of inspector general was a matter not of such modern date as General Conway maintains it to be, and that it was one of the regulations in view to reform the army.
"The foreign officers who had commissions and no commands, and who were of ability, were intended to be recommended to execute it, particularly the Baron d'Arendt with whom the idea originated, and whose capacity seemed to be well admitted."†
The baron was a Prussian officer and colonel of the German regiment, and served as aide-de-camp to Washington. Conway held the office of inspector general until April 28, 1778, when he resigned.
Although Washington did not employ Conway as inspector general, he still gave heed to the duties of the office which ever held a high place in his mind. Ina letter of January 28,1778, to the congressional committee, which visited his camp at Valley Forge, to mature a plan for the better administration of the army, he wrote:
"In an army, like ours, the office of inspector general, principally for the put pose of instituting and carrying into practice an uniform system of manual and manoeuvres, must be extremely useful and advantageous. A number of assistants to this office will be required, as one man would be incapable of superintending the practice of the rules laid down, throughout the army: and unless this were carefully done, it would be of little avail to establish them. It would be proper, in my opinion, to have one to each
*Journals of Congress.
†Writings of Washington, Vol. VI.
brigade; the benefits resulting from which would greatly over-balance the consideration of expense."*
In the meantime, December 1, 1777, Lieutenant-General Baron von Steuben arrived at Portsmouth, N. H., and proceeded to York, Pa., where he tendered his services to congress as a volunteer. He commenced his military life when a mere child, as the companion of his father, an engineer officer, and became aide-de-camp to Frederick the Great. Congress conferred on him the rank of captain by brevet, in order to guard against any inconveniences which might result were he taken prisoner, and he joined the army under Washington at Valley Forge, February 23, 1778.
Shortly after his arrival he accepted the appointment of temporary inspector and entered on his duties. The condition of the army,—without sufficient arms, clothing, rations, medicines, money, organization, instruction or discipline,—was deplorable in all respects. There was no uniformity, while the short terms of enlistment—three, six, and nine months—kept up a continual flow of men, who, as they left for their homes, carried off with them everything serviceable in their possession. These fluctuations destroyed the significance of divisions, brigades and regiments, which bore no resemblance to such organizations. It was impossible to obtain correct returns of the troops, the arms, supplies, or, in fact, a reliable report of anything. Drill regulations of any kind were unknown; each colonel and general had a system of his own; there was no military code. The interior economy and administration of regiments and companies did not exist; quartermasters obtained supplies and issued them, when their responsibility ceased, while that of the captains was never assumed; hence deficiencies were not known or explained. Officers and men absented themselves at will; desertion was general, and jealousies, bickerings, misunderstandings, insubordination, extravagance, and waste of all kinds prevailed. Unfed, unpaid, insufficiently sheltered, and literally naked, the army presented a picture of inefficiency almost beyond remedy. These conditions naturally suggested to such an experienced officer as Steuben the appropriate remedies, and although many of them were beyond his reach and he labored under the disadvantage of not knowing the English language, he set about his task.
To the defects he could not remedy he paid no attention, but devoted himself to completing the organization, instruction and discipline of the troops. To this end he formed a guard for the general-in-chief of 120 men drawn from the line, which he commanded and instructed in person, and which became a school for the inspectors and other officers. The men were completely uniformed, armed and equipped, and their military bearing and general appearance received much attention. Impressed by their intelligence and aptitude, the short time for preparation, the voluntary and transitory character of the service, and the ill success of other foreign officers who had adhered strictly to European methods, Steuben very sensibly reversed the old system, and, as he says in his memoirs, instead of "eternal manual exercises," the purpose of which was not apparent, but which exhausted the patience of the recruits, he practiced them in simple manoeuvres having a palpable object, and in such manner as to make plain
*Writings of Washington, Vol. VI.
the necessity for elementary drill. The good effects of this plan soon became manifest, and on March 28, about a month after he had reported to General Washington, the latter issued an order announcing that the Baron had "obligingly undertaken the exercise of the office of inspector general of the army," and appointed Lieutenant-Colonels Davies, Brooks, Barber and Mr. Ternant, as sub-inspectors. This order was followed by others requiring colonels and regimental commanders to review and inspect their regiments weekly, brigadiers their brigades fortnightly, and major generals their divisions. The inspectors were held responsible for the discipline of the troops, and that all instruction conformed strictly to that given by the Baron to the model company, and issued by him with the consent of the general-in-chief.
On April 30th, in a letter to congress, Washington explained the ill consequences arising from a want of uniformity in discipline and instruction throughout the army, the necessity for a well organized inspectorship, and what had been done up to that time by Steuben. In the month following he submitted a plan under which the business of the office was to form a system of manual and manoeuvres; to prepare all necessary regulations for the government, discipline and arrangement of the army in all its branches; and to see that they were strictly observed. For this purpose the inspectors were to be considered "the instructors and censors of the army in everything connected with its discipline and management." The inspector general to be under the direction of the general-in-chief, his deputies to have charge of the wings or divisions under the major generals commanding, and the inspectors the brigades. He recommended Steuben for inspector general, also General Cadwallader, "of a decisive and independent spirit," Colonel Fleming and the Barons Arendt and Holtzendorf, as assistants.
As a result of this correspondence, congress on May 5, 1778, approved the plan and appointed Baron Steuben inspector general with the rank and pay of major general. It was also resolved, "that there be two ranks of inspectors under the direction of the inspector general, the first to superintend two or more brigades, and the other to be charged with the inspection of only one brigade."
Steuben soon began to experience difficulties heretofore unknown. As long as he was a volunteer inspector without military authority as such, there was no open opposition to his plan of exercises and inspections, to receiving instructions from him personally, or to his practice of turning out the troops for drill which he did at his volition. His appointment as major general, however, caused much ill feeling among those who were below him in rank, and those of the same grade now objected to the privileges and authority previously exercised by him. Washington also, while fully appreciating the benefits to the army that had resulted from his efforts, thought that too much authority might be prejudicial to the inspectorship as well as to discipline, and accordingly issued an order, June 15, 1778, specifying the duties of the inspectors, and requiring all rules and regulations to be first approved by him, and then either published in orders or communicated by his direction.
All exercises and manoeuvres were to be executed under the immediate
orders of the several commanders, the inspectors acting as assistants, and the manoeuvres, which the Baron had practiced, were only to take place after orders specially issued, in each case, by the general-in-chief.
Thus the extensive powers exercised by Steuben when his office was first established, and which were considered necessary in view of the exigencies of the case, were brought within proper limits, and the safety of the inspectorship insured. That it would have been overthrown had not Washington placed a wise curb upon the ambition of the inspector general, or had he conceded to him the power of enforcing subordination, there can be little doubt. As stated by Alexander Hamilton, at that time aide-de-camp to Washington, in a letter of June, 1778, to Mr. Duer, a member of congress from New York: "The novelty of the office excited questions about its boundaries; the extent of its operations alarmed the officers of every rank for their rights. Their jealousies and discontents were rising to a height that threatened to overturn the whole plan."
Steuben continued at Washington's headquarters where he was most useful. In the execution of his duties he met with obstacles which, according to Hamilton, "were thrown in his way by many of the general officers, incited to it by Lee and Mifflin," and inasmuch as he had not been able to induce congress to adopt his ideas of the inspectorship, he now insisted on a permanent command, and seemed determined to leave the service altogether if it were not given him. Provided with a letter from Washington to the president of congress, the Baron laid his case before that body. But he was not successful and accordingly devoted himself again to his duties as inspector general.
Shortly after his arrival at Valley Forge, congress appointed a committee to confer with him. To this committee he submitted a project in which he discussed the causes which led to the establishment of the inspectorship, and in what manner it could best be made to conform with the genius of the people and the constitution of the army.
Reasoning from the relation of the inspectors general of France and Prussia, who were accountable to the king alone, he thought the inspector general should be answerable to the board of war, to which and the commander-in- chief, he was to make a report of his inspections. In the event of differences between the commander- in-chief and the inspector general, congress was to decide.* In other words, the inspector general was to be a staff officer of the board of war, and only in a qualified way under the control of the commander-in-chief.
This plan was referred to a committee of congress which reported that, after fully considering it and consulting with the Baron, they recommended -in the form of resolution s-that there should be one inspector general with the rank of major general, an assistant inspector general with the rank of brigadier general, sub-inspectors to be colonels and each to have the troops of three or four states, the offices of brigade major and brigade inspector to be united, and the regulations of the department to be as proposed in the plan. The second resolution, among other things, authorized inspectors to have the troops under arms whenever they desired. The
*Journals of Congress.
eighth resolution made the inspector general and his assistants subject to the orders of congress, the board of war, and the commander-in-chief. The tenth resolution provided that every officer and soldier who so desired should have the privilege of presenting any complaints to the inspector.*
The report was referred to Washington August 20, who, with his usual penetration and sagacity, discussed the merits and weak points of the proposed plan and report.† He saw that while it embraced many of the fundamental principles of inspections, it was fatally defective in establishing direct communication between the inspector general and the board of war; in making the inspector general independent of the commander-in-chief and the subinspectors independent of the subordinate generals. His letters and observations, together with the report, were received in congress September 15, whereupon it was "Ordered that the report and observations be referred to the committee of arrangement, and that they be directed to prepare a plan of regulations for the inspectorship, agreeable to the said report and observations."‡
On Thursday, February 18th, the committee made its report, whereupon the following plan of organization and management for the department of the inspector general was agreed to: There should be an inspector general, who, in all future appointments, should be taken from the line of major generals, and whose principal duty should be to form a system of regulations for drill and manoeuvre, service of guards and detachments, and for camp and garrison duty. Together with his assistants he was to review and inspect the troops and receive such returns as the commander-in-chief or officers in command might direct, reporting all defects and deficiencies to the officers ordering the inspection and to the board of war; all regulations whatsoever to be finally established by congress, but the exigencies of the service requiring it, temporary regulations might be introduced by the inspector general, with the approval of the commander-in-chief, such regulations to be communicated to the army by the adjutant general, and transmitted at once to the board of war for the action of congress; to be as many sub-inspectors as the commander-in-chief or commander of a detachment, in view of the strength and situation of the army, might deem necessary, to be taken from the line of lieutenant-colonels and to receive their instructions relative to the department from the inspector general; one inspector to each brigade to be taken from among the majors and the office to be annexed to that of brigade major; that all the officers of the inspectorship having appointments in the line should retain their rights of command, succession, and promotion, but they should not exercise command except on particular occasions and by special assignment of the commander-in-chief; to be exempt from all duties except those of their office; the inspector general to be subject to congress and the commander-in-chief only; and the sub-inspectors to be also subject to the orders of the division and brigade commanders on whose staff they were servingC
- *Journals of Congress.
- †Original Manuscript in State Department.
- ‡Journals of Congress.
- C Journals of Congress.
From this it appears that the views of Washington had been given due weight, and that the dangers to discipline, as well as those which threatened the inspectorship, had been carefully avoided.
On March 25, Steuben submitted to congress a system of drill regulations for the infantry, which, on the 29th, were approved and adopted.
In the library of the war department one of the few remaining copies of this book maybe seen. It was the first important result of the inspectorship, and was of inestimable benefit to the army. The scope of this sketch will not permit an analysis of these regulations, but it may be remarked that they partook of the Baron's very practical ideas in regard to the character of the instruction most needed to prepare the troops for the field. Many of the rules prescribed and the customs resulting from them are still observed in the army; others might be revived with benefit to discipline.
The regulations having been formally approved, Washington, on April 12, May 4, 12, 22, and June 20, 1779, issued orders making the inspector general and his assistant responsible for their observance. The sub-inspectors when their divisions were detached were to perform the duties of adjutant general, and the new duties of the brigade majors, which were in effect the same as outlined in Steuben's plan, were defined. In reference to inspections the brigade majors received their instructions from the inspector general, and from the sub-inspectors of the divisions to which they belonged. It was doubtless in pursuance of this idea, of uniting the duties of adjutant general and inspector general that congress on June 22, "Resolved, That the adjutant general for the time being, be also assistant inspector general."
The organization of the inspectorship being now complete, Washington on July 1, issued an order prescribing a monthly inspection of the whole army, and directing that at these inspections the inspectors be furnished, by all company commanders, with exact returns of the troops and of all government property since last inspection as well as of that on hand. These returns were consolidated into division returns for the information of the division commanders. "With what strict scrutiny were the inspections made" relates William North:
"I have seen the Baron and his assistants seven long hours inspecting a brigade of three small regiments. Every man not present must be accounted for; if in camp, sick or well, they were produced or visited; every musket handled and searched, cartridge boxes opened, even the flints and cartridges counted; knapsacks unslung and every article of clothing spread on the soldier's blanket, and tested by his little book, whether what he had received from the United States within the year was there, if not, to be accounted for. Hospitals, stores, laboratories, every place and every thing was open to inspection and inspected, and what officer's mind was at ease if losses or expenditures could not, on the day of searching, be fully and fairly accounted for? The inspections were every month, and wonderful was the effect, not only with regard to economy, but in creating a spirit of emulation between different corps. I have known the subalterns of a regiment appropriate one of their two rations to the bettering the appearance of their men, but this was at a later period of the war, when supplies and payments were more ample and more regular."*
On January 12, 1780, congress abolished the mustering department and
*Kapp's Life of Steuben.
transferred the duties to the inspector general's department. The effect of this was to simplify and greatly improve the administration and efficiency of the army. A division of duties so closely united as to be almost identical, among two sets of officers entirely separated by official lines and having a different responsibility, resulted in much friction and confusion and added to the difficulties of command. That the change was in the interest of economy cannot be doubted, and on May 7, Steuben submitted a plan which included the duties of both departments. After considering this plan, Washington on July 14th addressed the following to the president of congress:
"I enclose a plan which, in conjunction with the inspector general, I have framed for the consideration of congress. It is indispensable the department should be put in full activity without loss of time-the speedier the decision the better. A large additional allowance, at least nominally, for the inspectors, is proposed, but it is a very imperfect compensation for the additional trouble, and unless some extra privileges and emoluments attend the office, it will not be undertaken by officers of rank and abilities."*
This plan, expressing the concurrent and deliberate views of Washington and Steuben, should be given in full, but it is so lengthy that only a synopsis is permissible.
It provided for an inspector general with the rank of major general, to be taken from the line of major generals, with two aides and two secretaries; an assistant inspector general, to be adjutant general of the main army; an inspector to each division, one to the corps of cavalry, one to the artillery, one to the independent corps, garrisons, and to the militia in service, to be taken, when practicable, from the line of colonels and lieutenant colonels, and one to each brigade with the rank of major. The drill regulations and those prescribing discipline, service of guards and detachments, camps and garrisons, to be framed and their execution superintended by the inspector general of the army; the assistant inspector general to act as inspector general during the absence of the latter, and to perform the duties of adjutant general; the inspectors and sub-inspectors to act as adjutants general of the divisions and brigades, receiving their instructions in reference to inspection duty from the inspector general and assistant inspector general; the troops to be reviewed and mustered by the inspector general and his assistants monthly, noting the number and condition of the men, their discipline and drill, the state of the arms, equipments, clothing, rations, etc., rejecting all unserviceable recruits, discharging or transferring to the invalid corps all men disabled in the service, and reporting all abuses, neglects and deficiencies to the commander-in-chief, the commander of the organization, and to the board of war. The returns of men and material, as required in Washington's order of July 1, were continued, as were the other duties and responsibilities. The inspector general in all that related to inspections was subject only to congress, the board of war, and the commander-in-chief; all other inspectors to the commanders with whom they served.
This plan having been discussed, congress, on September 25, voted that:
*Original Manuscript in State Department.
"Whereas, the institution of the department hath been found of great utility to the armies of these United States; and experience hath shown that it may be rendered still more useful by an extension of its powers and objects, therefore,
"Resolved, That the former establishment by a resolution of February 18, 1779, and all subsequent resolutions relative thereto, be repealed, and the department hereafter have the following form, powers and privileges."
Then follows the plan proposed by Washington and Steuben, with some changes, and Steuben was continued as inspector general, and authorized to appoint all officers necessary to its execution, they being first approved by the commander-in-chief.
Considering the short time the inspectorship had been established the plan was as satisfactory as could be expected, but was a disappointment to the Baron. Nevertheless he continued actively at work and devised many remedies for the abuses which prevailed throughout the army. That they were numerous, and that Washington believed in the efficacy of frequent inspections, his correspondence fully proves.
On the surrender of Cornwallis, Steuben recommended a reduction in the number of inspectors and proposed some other changes. Accordingly, on January 10, congress authorized one inspector general, to be appointed from the general officers, with one secretary and two aides to be taken from the line; one field officer of the line to be inspector of each separate army, with $80 per month additional pay, and to be allowed to select a captain or subaltern to assist him in the duties of his office, with $10 per month additional pay. The inspectors in the execution of their offices were made subject only to the orders of congress, the secretary of war, the commander-in-chief, or commanding officer of a separate army. The authority and duties of the inspector general and his assistants continued unchanged.
With the capitulation of Cornwallis the operations of the main army may be said to have terminated. Attention was now concentrated on the southern army, and every effort made to render it efficient, but with little success. The dishonesty and extortion which had characterized the methods of supplying the troops still continued, and finally engaged the attention of congress, which, on May 7, 1782, provided for the appointment of inspectors of contracts and supplies for the two armies, who were to report any fraud, neglect of duty, or other misconduct by which the public property was wasted or expense unnecessarily incurred.
Under these resolutions Colonel Ezekiel Cornell of Rhode Island, was made inspector of contracts for the main army, and Colonel Francis Mentges of the 5th Pennsylvania regiment, the inspector of the southern army. Both of these officers were acting as inspectors of the aforesaid armies respectively.
The Peace of Paris was signed January 20, 1783, and a cessation of hostilities was proclaimed by Washington to take effect April 19th.
On December 23d Washington resigned his commission in the army and retired to private life. The same day he addressed a letter to Steuben, the last he ever wrote as commander-in-chief, in which he said:
"* * * I wish to make use of this last moment of my public life to signify in the strongest terms, my entire approbation of your conduct, and to express my sense
of the obligations the public is under to you, for your faithful and meritorious services."
On December 30, 1782, congress passed a resolution complimentary to Steuben, and on March 24, 1784, he sent in his resignation. In accepting it congress passed a resolution of thanks, "for his great zeal and abilities," and ordered "that a gold hilted sword be presented to him as a mark of the high sense entertained for his character and services." Washington had previously written in reply to the Baron's inquiry, "whether or no he considered the department of the inspector general necessary to the army, and whether it had been conducted according to his wishes," as follows:
"I give it as my clear opinion that it has been of the greatest importance for reasons too obvious to need enumeration, but more especially for having established one uniform system of manoeuvres and regulations in an army composed of the troops of thirteen States, (each having its local prejudices) and subject to constant deviations and interruptions from the frequent changes it has undergone. It is equally just to declare that the department under your auspices, has been conducted with an intelligence, activity and zeal, not less beneficial to the public than honorary to yourself, and that I have abundant reasons to be satisfied with your abilities and attention to the duties of your office during the four years you have been in service."*
Steuben did not return to Europe, but made his home in Oneida County, N. Y., where he died of paralysis, November 28, 1794, at the age of sixty-five years.
When the army was disbanded it was divided into a northern and southern force. The main body of the northern army was stationed along the Hudson river from Newburg to West Point. On the 19th of March, 1784, Steuben appointed Major William North, his aide-de-camp, inspector of these troops, and the appointment was confirmed by congress April 15, when he was made "inspector to the troops remaining in the service and pay of the United States," which consisted at the end of April, of 433 infantry and 80 artillery. On the 2d of June congress ordered all the troops in service to be mustered out, except 25 privates to guard the stores at Fort Pitt, and 55 at West Point. Under this act General Knox was disbanded and the command of the "army" devolved on Captain and Brevet Major Doughty, of the artillery.
From this date to July 31, 1787, the army was increased and reduced several times; at the latter date it consisted of one regiment of infantry and four companies of artillery.
On June 25, 1788, it was resolved in congress, "That the office of inspector of troops in the service of the United States immediately cease, and be discontinued, and that the secretary of war report what mode may be most eligible for having the troops inspected in the future."
In accordance with these instructions he wrote, July 3, 1788, to the president of congress as follows:
"Agreeably to the order of congress of the 25th ultimo, I have the honor to report to your Excellency that the recruits at present raising in Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, will be mustered and inspected previously to their marching by Mr. Stagg, who is employed in this office and is adequate to the business.
*Writings of Washington.
"That I conceive the troops on the frontiers may be mustered and inspected by the majors on oath."
Mr. John Stagg was the chief clerk of the war department, and an ex-officer of the Continental army. He was brigade-major of Conway's brigade, and of course had performed the duties of inspector. Under these instructions the majors of the regiments acted as inspectors, but Messrs. Stagg and Francis Mentges were inspectors under the secretary of war.
The war department was established August 7, and on September 29 congress enacted a law "to recognize and adapt to the constitution of the United States, the establishment of the troops raised under the resolves of the old congress."
By the act of April 30, 1790, the infantry regiment had three battalions of four companies each; the artillery battalion four companies; a total of 1216 men. Section 4 authorized an inspector "to inspect said troops."
Owing to Indian hostilities a second regiment of, infantry was added March 3, 1791, bringing the authorized aggregate strength of the army to 2232. On March 4, Arthur St. Clair of Pennsylvania was appointed major general, and replaced Harmar in command of the Northwestern Territory. The inspector of this army was Mr. F. Mentges, already mentioned.
Owing to the failure of his expedition against the Indians, St. Clair resigned March 5, 1792, and on the same day congress added three more infantry regiments for a term not to exceed three years. One of these regiments was given the unique organization of two battalions of infantry, and one squadron of four troops of light dragoons.
Provision was made for a general staff in which there was an "adjutant to do also the duty of inspector, and a brigade-major to act as deputy." Colonel Winthrop Sargent of Massachusetts, acting assistant adjutant general of St. Clair's army, was appointed adjutant and inspector but declined, assigning as a reason that the office was not attended with sufficient rank.
General St. Clair was succeeded by General Wayne, and the army was organized by Washington into a legion and four sub-legions, making the aggregate strength of the whole 5414.
The legionary staff included one adjutant and inspector, and that of the sub-legion one brigade-major and inspector. As Colonel Sargent declined his appointment General Wayne appointed Captain Henry de Butts, of the 4th sub-legion, acting adjutant and inspector, March 17. He was relieved by Captain Edward Butler of the 4th sub-legion, who acted until relieved February 23, 1793, by Major Michael Rudolph, of the light dragoons, who was appointed adjutant and inspector of the army. He resigned July 17, 1793, and was succeeded by Captain Edward Butler, who held the position until May 13, and was followed by Major John Mills, 2d sub-legion.
The act of March 3, 1795, provided for "an adjutant general to do also the duty of inspector," and gave additional compensation to the brigade majors.
The act of May 30, 1796, provided for one inspector to do the duty of adjutant general, and terminated the existence of the legion. On February
27, Major Thomas Cushing, 1st infantry, was appointed inspector of the army and performed the duties of adjutant general.
The act of March 3, 1797, repealed the foregoing act, and provided for one brigadier general to choose his brigade-major from the captains of the line. As Major Cushing had not relinquished his rank in the line upon receiving the commission of inspector, he continued to perform the duties of his office by detail.
By the act of May 22, 1798, the brigadier general was authorized to choose his brigade-major and inspector from among any of the commissioned officers in the line of the army.
About this time our difficulties with France assumed a threatening aspect and congress authorized a provisional army, the organization of which followed the principles observed towards the end of the Revolution. The troops formed brigades and divisions; the adjutant general was deputy to the inspector general; the duties performed by the inspectors were generally such as devolved on them during the Revolution and since. All inspectors were given additional pay.
On July 3d Washington was made commander-in-chief, and on the 18th Alexander Hamilton was appointed inspector general with the rank of major general. In a letter addressed to the secretary of war, July 4, Washington gave his views at length respecting the importance of the general staff to the welfare of the army.
Referring to the inspector general he wrote:
"If the inspector general is not an officer of great respectability of character, firm and strict in discharging the duties of the trust reposed in him, or if he be too pliant in his disposition, he will most assuredly be imposed upon, and the efficient strength and condition of the army will not be known to the commander-in-chief; of course he may form his plans upon erroneous calculations and commit fatal mistakes."
Hamilton selected as his aides Captain George Izard and Lieutenant Ethan Allen Brown. Jacob Brown, who became a major general in 1812 and commander of the army, was his military secretary.
A few days after receiving his commission, July 28, Hamilton entered upon his duties, which far exceeded in their variety and scope those of any other officer of the army. Nothing escaped his attention. He was practically at the head of the war department and chief of staff, both the secretary of war and Washington placing unbounded confidence in his abilities, his patriotism and integrity. The scope of this sketch will not allow a recital of the many important services rendered by Hamilton and his assistants. On February 4 he was invested with the command of all the troops along the northern lakes and in the Northwest Territory. Among the many objects which he had under consideration was the plan of a military academy, which had also been suggested by Steuben, and had repeatedly received the consideration of the government, but without result.
He submitted his plan to Washington who replied under date of December 12, 1779 [sic], commending the idea but declining to make any observations on the details of the plan.
This, the last letter written by the "Father of his country" before his death, which followed two days later, suggests the reflection that the last
letter written by him at the close of the Revolution, and just before resigning his commission, was addressed to the inspector general of the army, the Baron Steuben. Like Hamilton, Steuben had been appointed to his office at the request of Washington, and both shared in the fullest degree his confidence and affection.
As our difficulties with the French Republic now seemed in the way of adjustment, congress, May 14, 1800, reduced the army. On May 13 Hamilton had requested leave to resign his commission June 1st, but this was not granted, as it was thought expedient that the larger bodies of troops at different stations should be mustered out by him in person. His resignation was finally accepted June 15. He, as well as Steuben, was elected president general of the Society of the Cincinnati.
On the resignation of Hamilton, Major Cushing of the 1st infantry, who had been inspector and adjutant general before him, and who was a division inspector of the provisional army, once more resumed the office of inspector of the army. He continued to fill the office by detail until congress reestablished it in 1802. The office of adjutant general having been discontinued and the reduction of the army completed, the duties which had devolved on him were transferred to the inspector, and the duties of inspection prescribed in orders from the headquarters of the army of August 19, 1800.
On November 30 the country was divided into twelve districts, to be commanded by regimental and battalion commanders. Musters and inspections were to be made monthly by the district commanders when the regular inspecting officers could not attend. The order is noteworthy in prescribing that " the muster and inspection of a garrison should not be made by any officer belonging to it."
On the resignation of Hamilton, Brigadier General James Wilkinson became the senior officer of the army and so remained until March 27,1812. Through all this period he had immediate command of the army, the headquarters of which were at various points, depending on his movements. The adjutant and inspector of the army accompanied him or not, as might be directed, and performed his duties generally under his orders, although sometimes employed by the secretary of war.
The injustice of assigning to an officer detailed from the line, without extra compensation, the arduous duties of adjutant and inspector, induced congress on March 16, 1802, to again establish that office by law, and Major Cushing was appointed to it March 26, and held the position to September 7, 1805. Meanwhile, April 1, 1802, he was promoted lieutenant colonel of his regiment.
Under the act of April 12, 1808, the army was increased to 9921 aggregate, and two inspectors to be taken from the line were authorized. On April 2, Colonel Cushing was succeeded by Major Abimael Nicoll of the artillery.
From the close of the Revolution to the year 18o8, the army was subjected, as has been shown, to many changes. There were no printed regulations other than those prepared by, Steuben. Efforts had been made by Hamilton, Pinckney and others, to revise the drill books and to compile
regulations, but their work was not published. The systems which prevailed at the close of the Revolution continued, modified by such regulations and orders as circumstances suggested.
In February, 1810, Colonel Alexander Smyth of the regiment of riflemen, compiled a system of infantry exercises and manoeuvres, chiefly from French sources, which he was directed to test with the troops in camp near Washington, "there being," so says the order, "no established system for the army of the United States."
Owing to the difficulties growing out of the Napoleonic wars, the refusal of the British to evacuate the posts surrendered by the Treaty of Paris, and the depredations and insults of her cruisers, congress, on December 24, 1811, increased the army. The staff included one inspector general with rank of brigadier general, with two assistants to be taken from the line of lieutenant colonels.
On May 4, 1812, the following regulations defining the duties of the inspector general were issued by the secretary of war:
"* * * It will be the duty of the inspector general to organize the army; to superintend and enforce discipline; to visit and inspect camps, cantonments, quarters, prisons, places of arms and hospitals; to make stated and unexpected inspections of troops, arms, equipments, clothing, ammunition and horses; to make inspections, returns, and confidential reports relative to the state and discipline of the army; to designate men and horses unfit for service or the fatigues of war, that the former may be discharged or sent to garrisons and the latter sold; to examine the books of quartermasters, paymasters and companies, and ascertain the balances; and to prescribe forms of returns exhibiting all the wants of the army."
These regulations are a summary of the duties which, since its establishment, had gradually devolved upon the department.
On May 16 the president was authorized to appoint from the captains and subalterns of the line, one sub-inspector to each brigade with the additional monthly pay of twenty-four dollars.
On June 18 war was declared against Great Britain, and on the 26th the army was given a more perfect organization, comprising a general staff, medical staff, ordnance department, quartermaster's department, corps of engineers, four regiments of artillery, two of dragoons, one of riflemen and 25 of infantry, an aggregate of 35,752. The country was divided into nine military districts, each with a district staff, which included an inspector. General Dearborn was the senior officer and commanding general during the war.
By the act of July 6, 1812, the president was authorized to appoint to any army of the United States other than that in which the inspector general was serving, one deputy inspector general to be taken from the line with increased pay, and such number of assistant deputies as the service might require.
On July 6 Colonel Smyth was appointed inspector general, and on July 14 the secretary of war issued instructions merging, temporarily, the offices of adjutant and inspector general with the adjutant general's department, the duties of both to be performed under the direction of the adjutant general, to whom Major Nicoll was appointed assistant. Captain William King
of the 15th infantry was made assistant to the inspector general. In September General Smyth was given a brigade in the army along the Niagara River, commanded by Major General Van Rensselaer of the New York militia. On the resignation of that officer after the battle of Queenstown the command passed to General Smyth.
The act of March 3, 1813, organizing the general staff, provided that the adjutant general's and inspector general's departments should consist of one adjutant and inspector general with the rank of brigadier general; 8 adjutants general and 8 inspectors general with the brevet rank, pay, etc., of colonel; 16 assistant adjutants general and 16 assistant inspectors general with the brevet rank, pay, etc., of majors, to be taken from the line or not as the president might deem expedient. The president was also empowered to assign one of the brigadier generals to the principal army to act as adjutant and inspector of such army. As this act discontinued the offices of adjutant general and inspector general, it was held that General Smyth, having no commission in the line, was disbanded and no longer an officer of the army. He sought relief from congress, but was unsuccessful and ceased to be an officer March 3, 1813. The most notable service rendered by him while inspector general was the preparation of regulations for the field service, manoeuvre and conduct of infantry, a copy of which may be seen in the library of the war department.
On March 12 Brigadier General Zebulon M. Pike was appointed adjutant and inspector to the army commanded by General Dearborn, but was killed by the explosion of a mine in the attack on the British fortifications at York, Upper Canada, April 13th.
From the death of General Pike to May 19, 1814, the office of adjutant and inspector general of the army remained vacant, the affairs of the two branches being in charge of Colonel Nicoll, inspector general, and Major C. K. Gardner, assistant adjutant general, respectively.
On May 19 Brigadier General W. H. Winder was appointed adjutant and inspector of the army, and chief of staff to the northern army; on July 2 he was assigned to the command of the 10th military district. On the reduction of the army in June, 1815, he retired from service and resumed the practice of the law at his home in the city of Baltimore. He died May 24, 1824.
Meantime Colonel A. Y. Nicoll, who had been in charge of the inspector's office in the war department, resigned June 1, 1814, and was succeeded by Colonel John R. Bell, inspector general, who was appointed major and assistant inspector general July 29, 1813. On November 22,1814, Mr. Daniel Parker, of Massachusetts, the chief clerk of the war department, was appointed adjutant and inspector general of the army.
On the reduction of the army in 1815 the 8 inspectors general and 16 assistant inspectors general were discharged and four brigade inspectors, to be taken from the line of the army, substituted. No provision was made for continuing the office of adjutant and inspector general of the army, but under the discretion given the president he retained provisionally one adjutant and inspector general, and other staff officers. In March the ten military districts were replaced by nine military departments, forming a
northern and a southern division, each division and department having an inspector generally selected by its commander.
On December 27 the secretary of war suggested to the military committee of the House the expediency of providing by law for the staff appointments provisionally retained by President Madison. This led to the act of April 24, 1816, organizing the general staff, which recognized and made permanent those officers, and provided for one adjutant and inspector general of the army, one inspector general of each division, and an assistant inspector general to every brigade to supersede the inspectors authorized by the act of March 3, 1815, and to be selected from the line of the army or from civil life, with the rank, pay and emoluments, provided by the act of March 3, 1813. Colonels Hayne of the dragoons and Wool of the infantry were announced as inspectors general, and Captains J. M. Davis, Wm. McDonald and G. H. Manigault, of the infantry, Francis S. Belton, formerly of the dragoons but now in civil life, and John Biddle of the artillery, as assistant inspectors general.
By the act of April 14, 1818, the pay of division inspectors was made equal to the pay of division adjutants general. The administration of inspectors continued unchanged until October, 1820, when, by orders, all assistant inspectors general were placed under the division commanders acting through the division inspectors.
By the act of March 2, 1821, the army was reduced and reorganized. The office of adjutant and inspector general was abolished, and but two inspectors general, with the rank, pay and emoluments of colonels of cavalry, authorized. Colonels Wool and Gadsden (the latter appointed October 1, 1820, but not confirmed) were continued as inspectors. It was their duty to make a complete annual inspection of the army under the orders of the general commanding, the troops, posts and other establishments, being equitably divided between them.
On May 17, 1821, an order was issued by the president substituting an eastern and western department for the two divisions into which the country was divided in 1815. In August Colonel Gadsden was appointed adjutant general, and in November, Major S. B. Archer of the artillery was appointed to succeed him.
In December the inspections were specialized, the infantry being assigned to Colonel Wool, and the artillery, arsenals, foundries and manufactories of arms, to Colonel Archer. This was a departure from the practice previously observed, under which there was no division of inspections according to the previous service of inspectors.
During the years 1823 and 1824 additional duties were imposed on inspectors in reference to returns, reports, accounts, statements and inventories of public property, and they were held responsible for all estimates for supplies, which were to be made on consultation with post commander. When not engaged inspecting, they were required to take station at army headquarters.
On March 2 the order specializing the inspections was revoked, and the two inspectors were directed to alternate in the annual inspections which were to be made under the orders of the commanding general. No reasons
for this change are given in the order, which was doubtless issued to more perfectly equalize the duties. The commandant of engineers was made inspector of the military academy.
By the act of March 3, 1825, authorizing the sale of unserviceable ordnance, arms and military supplies, congress designated inspectors general as primarily the proper officers to inspect public property with a view to its elimination from service. By Par. 4 of G. O. 58, series of 1825, such inspections were to be "made by an inspector general when practicable."
On December 11, 1825, Colonel Archer died and was succeeded, December 31, by George Croghan, of Kentucky, formerly lieutenant colonel of the 15th infantry and renowned for the defense of Fort Sandusky, Ohio, in 1813, against the British and Indians.
In April, 1829, inspectors general were authorized to discharge soldiers on certificates of disability, a power previously exercised by them.
On May 19, 1837, the two great departments were changed into divisions with different limits, and divided into seven geographical departments. To each division one of the inspectors general was assigned as chief of staff, and to perform the duties of adjutant and inspector general. The act of July 5, 1838, having added two assistant adjutants general with brevet rank of major, and four with rank of captain, and required them to perform the duties of assistant inspectors, the two inspectors general were returned to the headquarters of the army, December 13.
On June 25 Brevet Brigadier General Wool was appointed full brigadier, and in December, 1839, was succeeded by Major Churchill of the artillery.
In May, 1842, the following important addition to the duties of inspectors was made by the secretary of war, Mr. John C. Spencer:
"* * * II. It is made the duty of the inspectors general, or officers acting as inspectors, carefully to examine and inspect all supplies and materials procured for the construction of forts, or for harbor and river improvements, and all the means applicable thereto, and the number and description of vessels, boats, machinery and instruments, etc., and they will inquire into all contracts for supplies and materials of all kinds, in the different departments, and whether the articles furnished conform to such contracts, and also into contracts made by the quartermaster's department for the transportation of troops and stores. The results of these inspections will be forthwith reported as provided in Par. 835."
On August 23, 1842, an act of congress abolished one of the inspectors general, but on January 12, 1846, this act was repeated. During this period both inspectors continued in office, and were, for a time, on duty with the army in Mexico.
In August, 1848, G. O. 49 divided the country into two military divisions, the eastern consisting of four departments and the western of five departments. There were in addition two separate departments, Nos. 10 and 11, from which, in October, was formed the third, or Pacific division. This arrangement of the country continued until October 31, 1853, when seven military departments were substituted for it.
Colonel Croghan died January 8, 1849, and was succeeded, January 26, by Captain James Duncan, 2d artillery, who died July 3, and was followed June 10, 1850, by Major George A. McCall, 3d infantry.
In May, on the accession of General Scott to the command of the army the inspectors general were ordered to report to him by letter.
On October 16, General Churchill was assigned as inspector of the eastern division; Colonel McCall of the Pacific division; and Brevet Colonel Samuel S. Cooper, assistant inspector general, to the western division. On December 17 the order was revoked and the inspectors were again attached to army headquarters, but ordered to inspect the three divisions in regular rotation, after which they were to report in person to the commanding general. Colonel McCall resigned April 29. 1853, and was succeeded by Captain J. K. Mansfield of the Engineers, May 28.
No change in the number of inspectors took place between 1842 and 1861, but on March 6, 1860, Brevet Colonel Joseph E. Johnston of the 1st cavalry was assigned to duty as acting inspector general of the army according to his brevet rank. On May 14, 1861, Colonel Mansfield was appointed brigadier general and was succeeded on the same date by Captain and Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Henry L. Scott of the 4th infantry.
On August 3, 1861, five assistant inspectors general with rank of major, and on August 6 two inspectors general with the rank of colonel, were added by congress.
No change in the number of regular inspectors occurred until 1864, but by the act of July 17, 1862, an inspector general with the provisional rank and pay of lieutenant colonel was provided for each army corps. The names of those appointed under the act will be found in G. O. 181 of 1862.
No change in the organization of the department occurred during the war. In 1861 Colonel Marcy was appointed brigadier general and chief of staff to the Army of the Potomac, and so served to November, 1862. Colonel Sacket was inspector general of that army to 1863, when he was succeeded by Colonel Schriver. Baird, Buford and Totten were general officers commanding troops, while Hardie, Davis, Jones and Van Rensselaer were on duty as inspectors. When not assigned to one of the armies in the field they were under the orders of the secretary of war. Armies, army corps, divisions, brigades, geographical divisions and departments, had inspectors general, assistant or acting assistant inspectors general, usually selected by the several commanders; and all parts of the army were subject to frequent inspections. The number of geographical departments increased, until, in 1865, there were 29 departments forming five divisions, and also a number of districts nearly all of which had inspectors.
On January 22, 1866, the war department published in G. O. No. 5, regulations relating to the inspection service, which prescribed the ordinary subjects of inspection and the general principles to be observed. This order, based on the wide experience of the department up to date, defined the "ordinary duties of inspection" to be
"the condition as to efficiency, discipline, supplies, etc., of bodies of troops, and the resources, geographical features, lines of communication and supply, the military wants, etc., of any section of the country ; the military status in any field of operations; the condition and supply of military materials of various classes; the condition of the administrative or disbursing departments of the service; the efficiency and conduct of military commanders and agents; the cause of failure or delay in move-
ments or operations; of losses by accidents, disasters, etc., and in general, all matters pertaining to the military art or having interest in a military point of view."
In the ordinary discharge of the duties, the sphere of inquiry was thus made to include every branch of military affairs, being defined and limited only in specific cases by the orders issued. This order and the circular of November 2, 1868, are fundamental, and have been the basis of all subsequent regulations and orders affecting the department.
The act of July 28, 1866, fixed the number of inspectors general with rank of colonel at four; assistant inspectors general with rank of lieutenant colonel at three, and the number with rank of major at two.
In October, 1868, all the inspectors and assistant inspectors general were assigned to divisions and departments except Colonel Schriver, who was placed in charge of the bureau and made inspector of the military academy. Selections for acting inspectors were to be made from the grades of field officers who had served not less than ten years. The inspectors of departments were made subordinate to division inspectors, from whom they were to receive instructions relative to the manner of performing their duties.
The act approved March 3, 1869, prohibited any new appointments or promotions in the department. In April the stations of inspectors were changed, and Colonel Marcy was assigned as inspector general at army headquarters and Colonel Schriver with the secretary of war. At the same time department commanders were ordered to make inspections of the troops and posts in person when practicable.
By an act approved June 8, 1872, the president was authorized to appoint Lieutenant-Colonel Davis to the rank and place he would have had if promoted at the time of Colonel Hardie's appointment. This act increased the number of colonels to five, but provided that there should be no promotion to that grade until the number of colonels was reduced to four.
In October, 1872, the five inspectors general were assigned to stations, but performed their duties under the orders of the secretary of war and general of the army; the three assistant inspectors general went to the headquarters of the three divisions. Field officers of the line were detailed as department inspectors.
In January, 1873, orders were issued excepting from inspection by department or division inspectors, all engineer establishments, officers or agents. The act of March 3, 1873, established the military prison, and required one of the inspectors general to visit and inspect it at least once in three months.
In April, 1874, the act providing for the inspection of disbursements was passed. It embodied a principle, previously recognized by congress, "that officers detailed for this duty should not be in any way connected with the department or corps making the disbursement." This act was at first construed to require monthly inspections, and imposed most arduous duties on all inspectors who were made responsible for any defalcation or misapplication of the public money or property which "an active vigilance on their part might have detected." It is difficult to imagine a more unjust requirement than this, or one more clearly unintended by the law, which was not designed to prevent frauds or to punish criminals, but to determine the
necessity, propriety and economy of disbursements, and whether officers complied with the law in keeping their accounts and making their deposits. In June, 1874, inspections of disbursements were ordered to be made bimonthly.
By the act of June 23, 1874, reorganizing the staff of the army, the inspector general's department was to consist of one colonel, two lieutenant colonels and two majors, and not to exceed four line officers to act as inspectors general; and no more appointments were to be made until the number of inspectors general was reduced to five, but no officer then in service was to be reduced in rank or mustered out. This law settled in the affirmative the question as to whether the inspectors general constituted a department, about which there had been some variance of opinion.
In April, 1876, the secretary of war directed the inspector general to report to the general of the army, and to be under him in all matters relating to military control and discipline. In May a reassignment of the inspectors was made, by which two were ordered to army headquarters and the others to the three divisions. Reports of the inspection. of troops and military posts were to be forwarded through regular channels to the inspector general's office, and inspectors were ordered to note on such reports the remedies applied, and all superior commanders to endorse on them their action, "for the information of the general of the army." In July the inspections of disbursements were ordered to be made quarterly, and the annual inspection of national cemeteries required by law was assigned to this department, but in 1879 it was dispensed with unless specially ordered.
Congress having declared by the act of June 16, 1874, that the inspectors general constituted a department, and the disproportion between the rank of the senior inspector general, or head of the department, and that of the other chiefs of bureau having been pointed out, the act of December 12, 1878, conferred on the senior inspector general the rank of brigadier general, and fixed the number of colonels at three, lieutenant colonels two, and majors one.
In August, 1879, it was ordered by the secretary of war that every post, station and command of the army should thereafter be inspected at least once each year by division and department inspectors under the direction of their respective commanders, and that in addition, post, station and other permanent commanders should make similar inspections, annually, between September 1st and 5th, and forward the reports to the inspector general's office. This order published a blank form of report which all officers making inspections were required to use.
Between May, 1878, and September, 1879, post schools and post cemeteries were made special subjects of inspection, and inspectors were required to have destroyed in their presence all unserviceable articles having no money value at the place where inspected.
By the act of March 3, 1883, it was made the duty of the inspector general of the army to inspect the Soldier's Home in person once each year.
By the act of February 5, 1885, the department was given its present organization.
March 8, 1885, General Sacket died and was succeeded on the 11th by
Colonel N. H. Davis, who retired September 23, and was followed by Colonel A. Baird.
In August, inspections of disbursements were ordered to be made once every four months; in March, 1886, amendments of the regulations were made prescribing the manner of such inspections, and in June the inspection of the military departments of colleges was assigned.
The hospital corps having been organized by the act of March z, 1887, orders were issued in August establishing the rules and regulations affecting it, and inspectors general were required to examine into the efficiency of its members and of the company litter bearers.
On August 20, 1888, General Baird was retired, and was succeeded by Colonel Roger Jones the same date. General Jones died January 26, 1889, and was succeded by Colonel J. C. Breckinridge, January 30, 1889.
In January, 1889, the inspection of the supply division of the war department, and in November the annual inspection of the militia were assigned to the department.
Between 1889 and 1894 many other important orders, regulations and decisions have been issued affecting the duties of the department, which culminated in the amendment of paragraph 955 A. R., by G. O. No. 38, of 1890, which was the same in spirit as G. O. No. 84 of 1879, and G. O. No. 17, of 1882, under which the entire military establishment was to be inspected annually, the public works under engineer officers alone excepted. They however were now included, and remained on the list of inspections to July 5th, when, by G. O. No. 45, of 1892, they were again excepted.
By G. O. No. 23, the bureau of information was established, and shortly after the inspection of the militia passed under the supervision of the adjutant general.
The last important duty assigned the department, is the annual inspection of the national homes for disabled volunteer soldiers, prescribed by the act of August 18, 1894.
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