Sold - Gen. Grant Requests That His Asst. Adjutant General Be Promoted

At any given time, Grant’s staff while he was supreme commander of the armies consisted of thirteen officers only, and was not larger than that of some division commanders. The chief of staff was Brigadier-general John A. Rawlins. There were four senior aides-de-camp, one of whom was Brigadier-general Horace Porter. Grant had two military secretaries, Adam Badeau being the most noteworthy. There were four assistant adjutant-generals, the most famous being Ely Parker, a full-blooded Indian and grand nephew of the great Chief Red Jacket. Another was George K. Leet. The 1866 book “Grant and His Campaigns” says this about Leet: “Major George K. Leet, assistant adjutant-general of volunteers...entered the service as a private in the Chicago Mercantile Battery, and served with it in General Sherman’s expedition against Vicksburg, in the battle of Arkansas Post, and the battles and siege of Vicksburg.

In August following the fall of Vicksburg, he was detached from his company as clerk at General Grant’s headquarters; and in October next thereafter, on General Grant’s recommendation, was appointed captain and assistant adjutant-general, and was with him in the campaign and battles of Chattanooga. On General Grant’s appointment to the command of all the armies, Leet was assigned to duty in Washington, in charge of office headquarters there. He was promoted to a majority in the adjutant-general’s department. As a private, he was a splendid soldier; as an officer, prompt and efficient in the performance of his duty — a courteous gentleman and man of sense. He possesses the respect and confidence of all who know him.”  So Leet was Grant’s man at the War Department in the final year of the war, and he was eventually promoted to Lt. Colonel. Leet remained in service to Grant after war’s end, and when Grant became President, Leet secured a position at the Customs House in New York, where for a time his superior was Chester A. Arthur.

Promotion has not spoiled him. Since I have been commanding the armies Capatin Leet has been in charge of the office in Washington, where I doubt not he has won the respect and esteem of all

Just eight months after President Lincoln promoted Leet to Captain, Grant seeks an even higher promotion for him. The personal nature of the letter indicates that this was not just a form adapted for the occasion, but specifically related to Leet. Letter Signed on his Head Quarters Armies of the United States letterhead, City Point, Va., December 14, 1864, to Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton. “I would respectfully request the promotion of Captain George K. Leet, Assistant Adjutant General, either to the rank of Major or Lieutenant Colonel in his Department. He is eminently worthy of the latter rank. Capt. Leet has risen from the ranks on his merits alone, to his present rank. Promotion has not spoiled him. Since I have been commanding the armies Capatin Leet has been in charge of the office in Washington, where I doubt not he has won the respect and esteem of all...” Grant wrote this letter while at his wartime City Point, Va. headquarters.

In the few months the war yet had to run, Leet became first a Major and then a Lieutenant Colonel, with which rank he finished the war.