Seddon to Johnston Correspondence (Cleburne Proposal)

Confederate Correspondence, Orders, And Returns Relating To Operations In Southwestern Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, West Florida, And Northern Georgia.--#25
O.R.--SERIES I--VOLUME LII/2 [S# 110]

WAR DEPARTMENT, C. S. A.,
Richmond, Va., January 24, 1861.

General JOSEPH E. JOHNSTON,
Dalton, Ga. :

        GENERAL: Major-General Walker has communicated directly to the President copies of a memorial prepared by Major-General Cleburne, lately the subject of consultation among the generals of division in your command, as also of a letter subsequently addressed by himself to the Generals present, asking the avowal of the opinions entertained by them in relation to such memorial, with their replies. I am instructed by the President to communicate with you on the subject. He is gratified to infer, from your declining to forward officially General Walker's communication of the memorial, that you neither approved the views advocated in it, nor deemed it expedient that, after meeting as they happily did the disapproval of the council, they should have further dissemination or publicity. The motives of zeal and patriotism which have prompted General Walker's action are, however, fully appreciated, and that action is probably fortunate, as it affords an appropriate occasion to express the earnest conviction of the President that the dissemination or even promulgation of such opinions under the present circumstances of the Confederacy, whether in the Army or among the people, can be productive only of discouragement, distraction, and dissension. The agitation and controversy which must spring from the presentation of such views by officers high in public confidence are to be deeply deprecated, and while no doubt or mistrust is for a moment entertained of the patriotic intents of the gallant author of the memorial, and such of his brother officers as may have favored his opinions, it is requested that you will communicate to them, as well as all others present on the occasion, the opinions, as herein expressed, of the President, and urge on them the suppression, not only of the memorial itself, but likewise of all discussion and controversy respecting or growing out of it. I would add that the measures advocated in the memorial are considered to be little appropriate for consideration in military circles, and indeed in their scope pass beyond the bounds of Confederate action, and could under our constitutional system neither be recommended by the Executive to Congress nor be entertained by that body. Such views can only jeopard among the States and people unity and harmony, when for successful co-operation and the achievement of independence both are essential.

With much respect, very truly, yours,
JAMES A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War.

Source:  Official Records of the War of the Rebellion

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