TO THOMAS EWING SR.
Head Quarters, 15th Army Corps. Camp on Big Black River, Aug. 13,1863
Honorable T. Ewing Lancaster, Ohio
I owe you a letter but as for the present all danger is past. I need not reply to the subject matter of your last further than that many suppose I run more risks than I should actually do. I can better judge of where balls are likely to strike than a mere looker on. The fact that I have thus far substantially escaped proves either this or good luck.
I expected Ellen & the children before this, but they are not yet come. I am well prepared to receive them in my camp which is in reality one of the best possible. It combines comfort, retirement, safety and beauty, but Charley is with you now, and will have described all you want to know. I have no apprehensions on the Score of health and the present condition of my command satisfies me on this score. It is no hotter here than with you, only the warm seasons are more prolonged.
Hugh is with me. He Commands my 4th Division but he too wants to go home as soon as a General Officer comes back to command the Division. I would prefer he should remain as thereby I think he could retain command of a fine Division of four Brigades, but he is bent on going home. He is wrong in finding fault at the non-receipt of pay. He can at any time draw pay from the date of his acceptance and his claims for the time back to the date when he actually entered on duty can be adjusted by the 3rd Auditor or Comptroller of the Treasury. A Commission is a contract of service and the Ruling has always been that pay begins only after actual acceptance. The mistake was in vacating his commission as Colonel 30th Ohio, till he had received and accepted his Commission as Brigadier General., U.S.A., two separate & distinct services. I have no doubt that you as Secretary of the Treasury have made this very decision, but in the present complicated state of affairs, I doubt not that the comptroller would decide that an actual performance of duty would constitute a virtual acceptance.
I now enclose you a short dispatch just received, which will I know give you real pleasure. The Commission as Brigadier General. in the Regular Army is a high honor, and to have it date July 4, places my name next to Grant’s as an actor in the most complete Act of the war this far. This is founded on no mere popular claim, no side influence, no management on my part. I have not lifted a finger to produce this result. All the chief actors in the Drama accord me the place. Grant makes no concealment, & McPherson concedes it gracefully and cheerfully. We know each other, we have consulted together from the moment I parted with them at Oxford last November till now, and each knows the part the other has borne. I am at home in the Field, in the Camp and in the Counsel of none but Soldiers are, but with such men as Cameron, and mere Political trimmers I am lost and of no account. With this estimate of myself I shall keep as far from Washington as the limits of our Territory will admit and I beg that my Friends will allow me to play my own Game of Life. My children & children’s children will now associate my name with their Country’s History. With such a reflection I may justly lay low, and seek as much retirement as comports with my native inclination.
I read John’s speeches, and think too he is coming round all right. I have placed both Hugh & Charley in positions to which they can lay claim by actual service and not favor, so that I hope I have made some amends for deep anxiety which I know I have caused you at times.
Give to Mrs. Ewing the assurances of my unfailing affection & earnest wish that her health may still be restored to her. I would be obliged if you would show this dispatch to Mr. Hunter whose good opinion I would like to preserve always.