Early in March, 1676, appeared in all the newspapers of the day the sensational report from Washington that Secretary of War Belknap had been detected in selling sutlerships in the army; that he had confessed it to Representative Blackburn, of Kentucky; that he had tendered his resignation, which had been accepted by the President; and that he was still subject to impeachment,--would be impeached and tried by the Senate. I was surprised to learn that General Belknap was dishonest in money matters, for I believed him a brave soldier, and I sorely thought him honest; but the truth was soon revealed from Washington, and very soon after I received from Judge Alphonso Taft, of Cincinnati, a letter informing me that he had been appointed Secretary of War, and should insist on my immediate return to Washington. I answered that I was ready to go to Washington, or anywhere, if assured of decent treatment.
I proceeded to Washington, when, on the 6th of April, were published these orders:
The following orders of the President of the United States are hereby promulgated for the information and guidance of all concerned:
The headquarters of the army are hereby reestablished at Washington City, and all orders and instructions relative to military operations or affecting the military control and discipline of the army issued by the President through the Secretary of War, shall be promulgated through the General of the Army, and the departments of the Adjutant-General and the-InspectorGeneral shall report to him, and be under his control in all matters relating thereto.
By order of the Secretary of War:
E. D. TOWNSEND, Adjutant-General.
This was all I had ever asked; accordingly my personal staff were brought back to Washington, where we resumed our old places; only I did not, for some time, bring back the family, and then only to a rented house on Fifteenth Street, which we occupied till we left Washington for good. During the period from 1876 to 1884 we had as Secretaries of War in succession, the Hors. Alphonso Taft, J. D. Cameron, George W. McCrary, Alexander Ramsey, and R. T. Lincoln, with each and all of whom I was on terms of the moat intimate and friendly relations.
And here I will record of Washington that I saw it, under the magic hand of Alexander R. Shepherd, grow from a straggling, ill-paved city, to one of the cleanest, moat beautiful, and attractive cities of the whole world. Its climate is salubrious, with as much sunshine as any city of America. The country immediately about it is naturally beautiful and romantic, especially up the Potomac, in the region of the Great Falls; and, though the soil be poor as compared with that of my present home, it is susceptible of easy improvement and embellishment. The social advantages cannot be surpassed even in London, Paris, or Vienna; and among the resident population, the members of the Supreme Court, Senate, House of Representatives, army, navy, and the several executive departments, may be found an intellectual class one cannot encounter in our commercial and manufacturing cities. The student may, without tax and without price, have access, in the libraries of Congress and of the several departments, to books of every nature and kind; and the museums of natural history are rapidly approaching a standard of comparison with the best of the world. Yet it is the usual and proper center of political intrigue, from which the army especially should keep aloof, because the army must be true and faithful to the powers that be, and not be subjected to a temptation to favor one or other of the great parties into which our people have divided, and will continue to divide, it may be, with advantage to the whole.