An order from Col. Harris came last night detaching Major Doughty from this ship. It had the approval of the Secretary and of course was put in immediate execution and the Major leaves in the morning.
But I have never seen this process before, and it belongs to that system of assumption of authority by the Heads of different departments to withdraw their members from the immediate control and direction of the Secretary of the Navy, a feature which has always given our Department an advantage over that of the Dept. of War. This control of the Secretary and the prestige pertaining to it, is in a measure transmitted to those who represent him on service, whether Flag Officers or Commanding Officers—and that is just where these innovations strike with a bad effect.
The approval of the Secretary, so natural for him to give, is immediately converted into an approval of the system itself, and I suppose the Chiefs of the bureaus will soon order and detach paymasters, Surgeons, Engineers, &c. It is a system of “disintegration,” building up kingdoms within a kingdom, and if not arrested will cause all to crumble some day like a brick wall, from which the mortar has been insidiously abstracted.
If this has been the usage heretofore—then please consider that I have said nothing as the French term it; but I never heard of it and it struck me unpleasantly.
I forgot to mention yesterday that the rough Cutlass in the box I spoke of was also from the Planter.
I have had her appraised by competent officers, who have fixed her value at $9000. I think the guns I sent to New York ought to be added—will you ask the Commandant of the Yard to have them appraised by the Ord. Officers?
Last night heard of Banks' affair—it will do good like Bull Run—two ships detained here with troops on board that I want elsewhere after pretending to hurry us. In case any change should be made of Gen Hunter, which I hope not, I implore that — be not left here in chf command. I say this for no personal feeling, but from the utter incompatibility of the man to fill such a place—this entre nous, tear this up.
SOURCE: Robert Means Thompson & Richard Wainwright, Editors, Publications of the Naval Historical Society, Volume 9: Confidential Correspondence of Gustavus Vasa Fox, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, 1861-1865, Volume 1, p. 124-5