October 10, 1862: Buell almost fired for being a “slow coach”

Don Carlos Buell

The New York Times correspondent reports on the whole snafu surrounding Halleck’s aborted orders to relieve Buell.

The history of Gen. BUELL’s recent removal and sudden restoration to command never having appeared in connected sequence, I trust you may deem it deserving the publicity of your circulation.

Gen. BUELL, though a good organizer and drill-master, has proved a slow coach during the war. He has been always behind time, not merely failing to handle his soldiers promptly himself, but constantly denying reinforcements from his idle army to Generals who were in the field, and, with inferior numbers, directly in face of the enemy. During the preparations for the storming of Fort Donelson, it will be remembered, no entreaties on the part of Gen. HALLECK could induce BUELL to send even a battalion to assist in that vital enterprise.

While matters, three or four weeks ago, were going so badly in Kentucky, Gen. HALLECK determined to transfer BUELL’s command to Gen. THOMAS, if practicable; and an order to that effect being prepared, it was sent out here by Col. MCKIBBIN, of Gen. HALLECK’s Staff, with verbal instructions that it should not be delivered in case of certain contingencies — one of these being, if he should find BUELL already here on his arrival, and preparing for an immediate general engagement with the rebel forces under BRAXTON BRAGG.

BUELL was here when Col. MCKIBBIN arrived, but whether preparing for an “immediate general engagement” or not, the future must determine. Col. MCKIBBIN evidently did not think he was; and so the order transferring the command to Gen. THOMAS was at once delivered — THOMAS being thoroughly acquainted with BUELL’s army and its resources, and possessing, in an eminent degree, that important essential, the confidence of the soldiers thus suddenly to be placed under his command.

No sooner, however, had the order been delivered than there was a furious rushing hither and thither of prominent Kentucky patriots, led by such men as CRITTENDEN, WICKLIFFE and their associates. There was caucusing in hotel parlors, mysterious interviews with Gen. THOMAS, and large disbursements of money at the Telegraph-office for dispatches addressed to “His Excellency the President,” one of these being from Gen. THOMAS himself, stating that he found a condition of public sentiment amongst the Border State leaders, which made him anxious that the order placing him in command should be evoked and Gen. BUELL restored to his position.

These dispatches, it would seem, had their effect, Mr. LINCOLN, as is well know, holding the opinion of the magnates of his native State in the utmost deference. Contrary to the advice, as is rumored here, both of the [???] of War and General [???] Mr. [???] that the military views of Gen. BUELL [???] to his command, and Gen. [???] to his subordinate position. [???] conduct in [???] behalf. [???] away [???] has [???] of this [???] State as [???] aggression. The responsibility for this portion of the campaign now rests on Messrs. CRITTENDEN and WICKLIFFE; but under the vigorous and peremptory instructions sent to Gen. BUELL by the General-in-Chief, we hope for the best; and are satisfied that any further dilatoriness on the part of this officer will be followed up by his prompt removal from a position in which even his warmest friends are forced to admit that he has heretofore been a failure. JACKSON.

This entry was posted in Don Carlos Buell. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *