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By Robert B. Downs

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His key subordinates in the Army of Northern Virginia all held their positions for long periods. Jacob H. Manning worked for James Longstreet from May 1862 to October 1864; Richard E. Wilbourn served under Stonewall Jackson and the subsequent commanders of the Second Corps from July 1862 until the end of the war; and Richard H. T. Adams rode with A. P. Hill from May 1862 to August 1864. This continuity undoubtedly improved the efficiency of the army’s signal work. There is one glaring omission in the roster of the army’s signalmen.

H. C. Whiting’s division, assumed a melodramatic tone when he wrote to Jefferson Davis in search of personal promotion. His four-sentence letter included some classic passages: ‘‘I fear you have forgotten me. . Is devotion to our sacred cause . . to be counted for nothing? ’’ Tansill’s affected style left the president nonplussed, but General Samuel Cooper (himself a tougher officer than most of the inspectors in the field) knew how to deal with Tansill. ’’ 42 Judge Congress established military courts in the autumn of 1862 that would travel with the army and hear cases promptly.

With only a few exceptions, the officers sitting on these courts were either beyond mandatory-service age or demonstrably unfit for field service. 44 The courts held jurisdiction over cases that involved violations of the published articles of war or in instances where soldiers stood accused of major crimes. The military courts improved the quality of justice in the army by ensuring uniformity of judgment. Even under this more professional system, room remained for smaller courts. 45 The secretary of war conducted a one-year review of the court system late in 1863 and found it useful in a number of ways.

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