ADVISE AND CONSENT
By the mid-1850's, the U. S. Military's area of responsibility had expanded from Mexico and parts of the southwest to more distant borders. As a result, the Senate of the United States consented to the establishment of four additional military regiments 3 March 1855. The new regiments' officers would be West Point alumni selected from existing units. In a letter printed in the Executive Journal, 1856, page 83, President Franklin Pierce submitted names for appointment and promotion to the newly formed 1st and 2nd Cavalry and the 9th and 10th Infantry regiments 18 April 1856.
The 9th Infantry had an illustrious beginning with notables such as Brevet Captain George E. Pickett, First Lieutenant from the 8th Infantry, Brevet Major Robert S. Garnett from the 7th Infantry regiment and First Lieutenant Charles S. Winder from the 3rd Artillery regiment.
Brevet Captain George B. McClellan began his assignment with the 1st Cavalry regiment, as did J. E. B. Stuart, who was promoted to 1st Lieutenant. Brevet 2nd Lieutenant John Bell Hood was appointed to the 2nd Cavalry regiment. The 10th Infantry regiment was no less fortunate with the appointments of Brevet Captain Barnard E. Bee and 1st Lieutenant Henry Heth.
Friends, Then Enemies
Less than five years later on 14 January 1862, another Congress considered the recommendations of their president, Jefferson F. Davis, for nominations to the PAC (Provisional Army of the Confederacy.)
"Richmond, January 10, 1862.
The nominations, including George E. Pickett, of Virginia, to brigadier-general in the Army of the Confederate States, were confirmed.
To the Congress of the Confederate States:
I nominate the officers on the accompanying list to the rank affixed to their names, respectively, agreeably to the recommendation of the Secretary of War.
The next time General Pickett's name was before the Confederate States Congress was 11 October 1862 when he was considered for promotion again. The Congressional Record, page 471, reflects that four officers' names were taken up that day: John C. Pemberton was nominated to lieutenant-general, George E. Pickett, John Bell Hood and Henry Heth were nominated to major-generals. With one-fifth of the Senators present, Pemberton's promotion failed in a 5-13 vote and Heth's promotion failed in a 0-17 vote. Pickett and Hood were promoted.
Soldiers and Politicians
The end of the War Between the States and the Confederacy's loss obliged former Confederate officers to seek amnesty from the conquering government. In Pickett's case, he had to make special application to the president of the United States because, 1) he had graduated from West Point and sworn allegiance to the United States, 2) resigned his position in the United States Army to join the Confederate Army, and 3) served the Confederate States as a Major General. Many former Confederate officers were in the same position.
General Pickett wrote to President Andrew Johnson 1 June 1865 stating his case. Pickett did not leave his post in Washington. He remained there until July 24, 1861, when he received approval of his request for an extended leave of absence and his replacement arrived. Pickett further stated that he had stood by the United States and fought for it with fidelity and would have continued had his home, Virginia, not seceded from the Union. He wrote that he had advised "all now belonging to my division to return to their homes and their peaceful pursuits" and was ready and willing himself to obey the laws of the United States. The Union politicians were not as willing to return to the former Confederate officers their rights as citizens.
Nine years later, the Journal of the Senate states that senators considered a bill entitled H. R. 3086 on 20 April 1874 that would "act to remove the political disabilities of George E. Pickett, of Virginia." But it was not until 23 June 1874 that the amended bill was considered and passed by two-thirds of the Senators present. General Pickett was granted an official pardon just one year before his death. Confederate States President Jefferson F. Davis and General Robert E. Lee did not live long enough to see their rights reinstated. Some former Confederate soldiers never made any attempts to apply for amnesty choosing instead to remain "unreconstructed."
P. H. Wood
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