Thomas Jefferson Papers

Meriwether Lewis’s Classification of Army Officers, [after 24 July 1801]

Meriwether Lewis’s Classification of Army Officers

[after 24 July 1801]

Explanation of the notes set opposite (in the column of remarks) to the names of the several officers composing the Army of the United States.—

Denotes such officers as are of the 1st. Class, as esteemed from a superiority of genius & Military proficiency.
ditto .   . ditto second class, respectable as Officers, but not altogether entitled to the 1st. grade—
ditto .   . ditto. Republican.
ditto Officers whose political opinions are not positively ascertained
ditto Political apathy.
ditto Opposed to the Administration, otherwise respectable officers.
ditto opposed to the Administration more decisively.—
ditto ditto most violently to do. and still active in its vilification.
ditto. professionally the soldier without any political creed—
ditto. unworthy of the commissions they bear—
ditto unknown to us.—

MS (DLC: TJ Papers, 114:19697); in Lewis’s hand; undated, but composed as a key to symbols he added to a 24 July 1801 War Department list of officers (see below).

The chief clerk of the War Department, John Newman, prepared a list of commissioned officers, including surgeons and surgeon’s mates, of the army’s general staff, cavalry, two regiments of artillerists and engineers, and four regiments of infantry. The list, dated 24 July 1801, is arranged as a table with columns for each officer’s name, rank, date of commission at present rank, and state from which appointed. Newman left a final column for additional remarks. In that column Lewis put symbols next to most of the 273 names on the list, according to the system explained in his memorandum above. Fifteen officers who left the service by resignation, dismissal, or death are identified by comments Lewis wrote in the remarks column. The 15 officers’ departures from the army ranged in time from 1 Aug. 1801 (the resignation of Lieutenant Warham Shepard) to 1 June 1802 (honorable discharges for Lieutenant Waters Clark, Major John H. Buell, and Captain William Scott). TJ apparently consulted the list during that period in planning a reduction in the size of the army (MS in DLC: TJ Papers, 114:19699–19705, in Newman’s hand except for symbols and comments inserted in “Remarks” column, signed by Newman with notation “From the War Office Register, July 24. 1801,” and including additional columns for officers of the general staff to show their positions on the staff and the dates of those appointments; Heitman, Dictionary description begins Francis B. Heitman, comp., Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army, Washington, D.C., 1903, 2 vols. description ends , 1:260, 306, 521, 870, 880; Theodore J. Crackel, Mr. Jefferson’s Army: Political and Social Reform of the Military Establishment, 1801–1809 [New York, 1987], 36–8, 49, 193–4n, 196n; see also Donald Jackson, “Jefferson, Meriwether Lewis, and the Reduction of the United States Army,” APS description begins American Philosophical Society description ends , Proceedings, 124 [1980], 91–6; Cunningham, Process of Government description begins Noble E. Cunningham, Jr., The Process of Government under Jefferson, Princeton, 1978 description ends , 126–7; Cunningham, Jeffersonian Republicans in Power description begins Noble E. Cunningham, Jr., The Jeffersonian Republicans in Power, Party Operations, 1801–1809, Chapel Hill, 1963 description ends , 66–8).

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