Friday, April 8, 1864

Nashville, Tennessee

I received a letter from Halleck, advising on command issues:

Washington, D. C,
April 8, 1864
Maj. Gen. W. T. Sherman, Nashville:

General; Your telegram of yesterday was received this morning. I have not seen your memoranda sent by General Rawlins, but presume General Grant has, as he alluded to some proposed reorganization of this kind in the West.

We fully agree that the Departments of Arkansas and the Gulf should be under one commander as soon as the armies come within communicating distance, but the difficulty is to get a suitable commander. General Banks is not competent, and there are so many political objections to superseding him by Steele that it would be useless to ask the President to do it. Moreover, I fear the command would be too large for Steele. Nevertheless, if the proper man can be found for the place I shall not hesitate to advise a change now.

No doubt the lines of departments of your command west of the Mississippi River might also be modified with advantage, but I would not advise making all three into one, for the reason it would make you a mere bureau general. You know there is an immense amount of official business, courts-martial, discharges of soldiers, furloughs, requisitions, &c, which the law and regulations require to be done by the commander of a department. If you take this it will either absorb most of your time or you must leave it to members of your staff, a power and responsibility which should not be given to or imposed upon such officers. You ought to be almost entirely free to direct the movements of your armies.

We tried the ” three grand division” system in the Army of the Potomac, and it worked so badly that everybody was glad to get rid of it. No one here is now in favor of its renewal. Armies and army corps, divisions, and brigades are the most proper elements of organization. Center wings and reserves are organizations for marches and battles, but this is only a temporary arrangement; corps, divisions, and brigades being transferred from one to the other as circumstances require.

I fear that General Schofield will be rejected by the Senate. He is a good officer, and you will find it difficult to supply his place.

If you think the lines of the departments west of the Mississippi River can be changed with advantage without breaking them up, please write me your views and I will bring the matter before the Secretary of War and General Grant.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. W. HALLECK, Major-General, Chief of Staff

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