The only remaining aide-de-camp was Colonel John M. Bacon, who utterly ignored self in his personal attachment to me. He was then a captain of the Ninth Cavalry, but with almost a certainty of promotion to be major of the Seventh before the date of my official retirement, which actually resulted. The last two accompanied me to St. Louis, and remained with me to the end. Having previously accomplished the removal of my family to St. Louis, and having completed my last journey to the Pacific, I wrote the following letter:
HEADQUARTERS ARMY UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON, D. C., October 8, 1883.
Hon. R. T. LINCOLN, Secretary of War.
SIR: By the act of Congress, approved June 30, 1882, all army-officers are retired on reaching the age of sixty-four years. If living, I will attain that age on the 8th day of February, 1884; but as that period of the year is not suited for the changes necessary on my retirement, I have contemplated anticipating the event by several months, to enable the President to meet these changes at a more convenient season of the year, and also to enable my successor to be in office before the assembling of the next Congress.
I therefore request authority to turn over the command of the army to Lieutenant-General Sheridan on the 1st day of November, 1883, and that I be ordered to my home at St. Louis, Missouri, there to await the date of my legal retirement; and inasmuch as for a long time I must have much correspondence about war and official matters, I also ask the favor to have with me for a time my two present aides-de-camp, Colonels J. E. Tourtelotte and J. M. Bacon.
The others of my personal staff, viz., Colonels O. M. Poe and J. C. Tidball, have already been assigned to appropriate duties in their own branches of the military service, the engineers and artillery. All should retain the rank and pay as aides-de-camp until February 8,1884. By or before the 1st day of November I can complete all official reports, and believe I can surrender the army to my successor in good shape and condition, well provided in all respects, and distributed for the best interests of the country.
I am grateful that my physical and mental-strength remain unimpaired by years, and am thankful for the liberal provision made by Congress for my remaining years, which will enable me to respond promptly to any call the President may make for my military service or judgment as long as I live. I have the honor to be your obedient servant,
WAR DEPARTMENT, WASHINGTON CITY, October 10, 1888.