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Home > Civil War Sesquicentennial > Jonathan P. Cilley Transcript

Jonathan P. Cilley Transcript

Washington D.C.
June 20, 1863

Hon. Abner Coburn
Governor of Maine
Dear Sir,

Enclosed I send you Special Order No. 231, revoking Special Order No. 194.  This order you will see revokes the previous order and is entirely different from an order reinstating me, and I stand as regards pay, emoluments and rank as though Special Order 194 had never been issued.

I mention this because the late painful but gallant death of Colonel Douty creates a vacancy.

In filling this vacancy I earnestly and sincerely, Governor, ask your attention to my claims for promotion You will remember when I saw you at Willards, I proposed this question to you: If after my return to active service I should act as bravely and efficiently as Lieut. Col. Smith, so that there should be no preference on that score, and a vacancy should occur in the Colonelcy, whether I should have under the circumstances any claim to promotion? You with proper caution replied you should have to wait the actual occurrence of such an event, before you could rightly give a decision. The sudden death of Col. Douty, before my return to field service precludes my claiming the position of Colonel, but I do think I have a claim to the position of Lieut. Colonel. Is it fair, right, or just that a wound received in the line of my duty, and in the service of my country, should be the means of my disgrace, a bar to any means of promotion?

While Government awards long confinement South with a Brigadier Generalship; while she has taken careful care of; promoted, and heaped honor upon her wounded soldiers, why should there be an exception made in my case, and my wound bar me from advancement, and send up any all hopes of honor and usefulness – I know my wound has been a severe one, but should that fact be the means of bringing more disgrace upon me, of laying me on the shelf in the very springtime of my youth and health, and the very time a man would wish to live that desires to serve his country.

Governor, please make my case your own – Your father has been killed at the very entrance of public life; years after, just as you are attaining the full powers of manhood, the same influence that slew your father seeks to destroy the life of your Country. You joyfully rush to its aid, glad of the opportunity to avenge the death of your father, and to serve your native land, you are wounded: laid on the shelf; passed by, others passed over you, and your high hopes of usefulness and renown destroyed.

Is such a just reward for those who peril their lives that their country may live? My character as an Officer and a man, is I think, high and honorable. I several times received the commendations of my superior officers for acts of efficiency and gallantry and if needed, I should be happy to produce some pleasing evidence on that point. I beg, Governor, a careful and friendly consideration of my claim to the Lieut. Colonelcy of the Regiment.

Very Respectfully, Sir,
Your Obedient Servant,
J. P. Cilley, Major, 1st Maine Cavalry