His Excellency's Blacklist
General Officers Fallen From Grace

     The successful career in the army, as well as a public servant during the Franklin Pierce Administration as Secretary of War, and Senator of the State of Mississippi, paved the way for Jefferson Davis' exhaltation from general commanding Mississippi State Troops, to President of the Confederate States of America. Although the job was not sought after, once committed to it, there would be no mistake as to whom the Chief Executive was.

     The mix of politics and military affairs discouraged many professional soldiers attempting to manage a battlefield, or more so, an army. Personalities quickly clashed when it was recommended by Richmond that the military units in Northern Virginia be re-organized into state identified brigades. Commanders such as General Joseph E. Johnston balked at such an idea, performing the task at the president's behest, would be damaging to morale and costly on success.

     The two men would not see eye to eye with one another. Tempers continued to run hot after his transfer to the west where the general had been placed in departmental command of both General Braxton Bragg's troops in Tennessee as well as those under Lieutenant General John C. Pemberton, who had been bottled up inside Vicksburg, Mississippi. Johnston was late in coming to the relief of the city, and his excellency, the President, fired off a heated rebuke categorized in thirty four points, calling Johnston, in short, wanton as a departmental commander. The general's cat and mouse games, on the battlefield would also test the commander in chief's patience, continuing to fire and re-appoint Johnston to army command only after the executive decision became too costly on them all.

     General Pierre Gutave Toutant Beauregard also clashed with the President early, over a lack of attention to the men of his army after the First Battle of Manassas. Having been too weak and without proper rationing for the men, The Confederate Army of the Potomac could not follow up their victory by capturing Washington City as a result. More than likely, out of convenience to the Richmond White House, he was sent out west having first served as second in command under General Albert Sydney Johnston. Having failed to gain a Confederate victory at Shiloh on the second day, he was forced to fall back on Corinth, Mississippi, only to give that up as well. His military career while serving the Confederacy would be a series of transfers from one theatre to another, never establishing a command of high recognition.

     William Henry Chase (WHC) Whiting, another promising officer tendering his services to the Confederacy would have his fill of the President. Graduating first in his West Point Class of 1841, he joined the elite Corps of Engineers. He received his brigadier generals commission from Davis himself for his brilliance in shuffling troops to the front at Manassas in July 1861. However, General Whiting, himself, would likewise view the Chief Executive through the eyes of a field commander. Outspoken and critical of Davis and the authorities in Richmond, Whiting was quietly transferred from the main theatre of operations and sent to North Carolina when Robert E. Lee re-organized the army following the Seven Days Battles. Whiting's engineering talent and the love of his soldiers in the south, became the magic combination in obtaining his second star.

     Sitting the war out in the quiet region of Wilmington, North Carolina and supervising the fortifications there, he wanted nothing more than to return to the field and lead combat troops. His chance came in May 1864, briefly, at Drewry's Bluff, however, his performance was questioned on the grounds of excessive drinking, and to make matters worse, done before the eyes and ears of Jefferson Davis.

     He was sent back to North Carolina, to sit in a secondary commanding role, to none other than the President's personal favorite, Braxton Bragg.

     Right or wrong, it was not an easy task to tangle with his excellency, the President. The course, would certainly result in a brilliant military mind, being forced to accept a tarnished star.

Dan (Aldie) Daniel Moran
© 2001

Editors Note: Mr.Moran is a feature writer on the US-Civilwar.com writers staff. He may be contacted with your questions, ideas and requests at dmoran@us-civilwar.net