Letter to Illinois Adjutant General from Lt. Col. Luther Bradley

Headquarters 51st Ill,
Nashville Nov 13th 1862

Adjt. Gen. Fuller
Springfield, Ill.

I herewith submit the names of Officers nominated to fill vacancies in the 51st Ill., occasioned by the resignation of Col. Cumming, and respectfully request that they be commissioned.

In the month of August I forwarded to your office a list of names to fill vacancies in this Regt. occasioned by death and resignation. I did this in compliance with your Gen. Order requesting commanders of Regts in the field to forward names for promotion, assuming then that they should be promptly commissioned. Mail communication is now opened with the north after two and a half months interruption, and I hear nothing from the commissions but am indirectly informed that proceedings had been stayed in these cases by request of Col. Cumming. If this is the case, I submit that the principle of it is unfair. An officer in command of a Regt. is unquestionably a better judge of the efficiency of his subordinates than one who has been absent during nearly the whole period of acting operations in the field. And his endorsement should be sufficient to secure the promotion of those who have served with him. An officer who is held responsible for the good conduct of a Regt. in the field should certainly have a voice in the selection of those who are to serve under him.

I had supposed that these nominations were made in accordance with established rules. If I am mistaken, I desire to be informed upon what principle vacancies in the Ill Regts are filled. If necessary, I will in future secure the endorsement of the Division and Department commanders.

L. P. Bradley
Lt. Col. Comdg.
51st Ill.

Source: Fifty-First Illinois Infantry Administrative Files, Field and Staff, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, Illinois.

Notes: Eventually Bradley prevailed, and the officers he nominated received their commissions. Cumming's influence in regimental affairs ceased altogether. Bradley himself was formally commissioned colonel of the regiment with an official date of September 30, 1862.

Bradley's mention of interrupted mail service refers to the period of time from September to early November during which the 51st and a number of other regiments marched in a rush from Alabama north to Nashville to hold it against Confederate attack. During that time Federal forces were cut off from communication and supply from "the North," which meant, to the soldiers, no mail, half rations, and lots of marching.