James K. Polk

Special Message

January 12, 1846

To the Senate of the United States:

I nominate the persons named in the accompanying list* of promotions and appointments in the Army of the United States to the several grades annexed to their names, as proposed by the Secretary of War.



WAR DEPARTMENT, January 8, 1846 .


SIR: I have the honor respectfully to propose for your approbation the annexed list* of officers for promotion and persons for appointment in the Army of the United States.

I am, sir, with great respect, your obedient servant,




Washington, January 8, 1846 .

Hon. W. L. MARCY, Secretary of War .

Sir: I respectfully submit the accompanying list* of promotions and appointments to fill the vacancies in the Army which are known to have happened since the date of the last list, December 12, 1845. The promotions are all regular except that of Captain Martin Scott, Fifth Infantry, whose name, agreeably to the decision of the President and your instructions, is submitted to fill the vacancy of major in the First Regiment of Infantry ( vice Dearborn, promoted), over the two senior captains of infantry, Captain John B. Clark, of the Third Regiment, and Brevet Major Thomas Noel, of the Sixth. The reasons for this departure from the ordinary course (as in other like cases of disability) are set forth in the Adjutant-General's report of the 27th ultimo and the General in Chief's indorsement thereon, of which copies are herewith respectfully annexed, marked A.

I am, sir, with great respect, your obedient servant,

R. JONES, Adjutant-General.




Washington, December 27, 1845 .


Commanding the Army .

SIR: The death of Lieutenant-Colonel Hoffman, Seventh Infantry, on the 26th ultimo, having caused a vacancy in the grade of major, to which, under the rule, Captain J. B. Clark, Third Infantry, would be entitled to succeed, I deem it proper to submit the following statement, extracted from the official returns of his regiment, touching his physical capacity for the performance of military duty.

In May, 1836, Captain Clark went on the recruiting service, where he remained till October 4, 1838, when he was granted a three months' leave. He joined his company at Fort Towson in May, 1839, and continued with it from that time till March, 1841 accompanying it meanwhile (October, 1840) to Florida. He obtained a three months' leave on surgeon's certificate of ill health March 23, 1841, but did not rejoin till February 16, 1842. In the interim he was placed on duty for a short time as a member of a general court-martial, which happened to be convened at St. Louis, where he was then staying. He remained with his company from February to November, 1842, when he again received a leave for the benefit of his health, and did not return to duty till April 26, 1843 (after his regiment had been ordered to Florida), when he rejoined it at Jefferson Barracks. He continued with it (with the exception of one short leave) from April, 1843, till June, 1845, but the returns show him to have been frequently on the sick report during that period. On the 2d of June, 1845, his company being then encamped near Fort Jessup in expectation of orders for Texas, he again procured a leave on account of his health, and has not since been able to rejoin, reporting monthly that his health unfitted him for the performance of duty. The signature of his last report (not written by himself), of November 30 (herewith*), would seem to indicate great physical derangement or decrepitude, approaching, perhaps, to paralysis.


From the foregoing it appears that during the last seven years (since October, 1838) Captain Clark has been off duty two years and four months, the greater part of the time on account of sickness, and that even when present with his company his health is so much impaired that very often he is unable to perform the ordinary garrison duties.

Under these circumstances it is respectfully submitted, for the consideration of the, proper authority, whether the senior captain of infantry should not be passed over and (as Brevet Major Noel,+ the next in rank, is utterly disqualified) Captain Martin Scott, of the Fifth Infantry, promoted to the vacant majority.

+ In 1839 Brevet Major Noel, Sixth Infantry, was severely wounded (serving in the Florida War at the time) by the accidental discharge of his own pistol. He left his company February 16, 1839, and has ever since been absent from his regiment, the state of his wound and great suffering rendering him utterly incapable of performing any kind of duty whatever; nor is there any reason to hope he will ever be able to resume his duties.

R. JONES, Adjutant-General .

It is proper to state that Captain Clark has always been regarded as a perfect gentleman, and as such, as far as I know, is equal to any officer in the Army.

I am, sir, most respectfully, your obedient servant,

R. JONES, Adjutant-General .

(Remarks indorsed on the foregoing report by the General in Chief.)

DECEMBER 30, 1845.

This report presents grave points for consideration. It is highly improbable that the Captain will ever be fit for the active duties of his profession. The question, therefore, seems to be whether he shall be a pensioner on full pay as captain or as major, for he has long been, not in name, but in fact, a pensioner on full pay. We have no half pay in the Army to relieve marching regiments of crippled and superannuated officers. We have many such--Colonel Maury, of the Third Infantry (superannuated), and Majors Cobb and McClintock, Fifth Infantry and Third Artillery (crippled). Many others are fast becoming superannuated. The three named are on indefinite leaves of absence, and so are Majors Searle and Noel, permanent cripples from wounds. General Cass's resolution of yesterday refers simply to age. A half pay or retired list with half pay would be much better. There are some twenty officers who ought at once to be placed on such list and their places filled by promotion.

Upon the whole, I think it best that Captain M. Scott should be promoted, vice Dearborn, vice Lieutenant-Colonel Hoffman.

Respectfully submitted to the Secretary of War.


JANUARY 8, 1846.

It appearing from the within statements of the Commanding General and the Adjutant-General that the two officers proposed to be passed over are physically unable to perform the duties of major, and their inability is not temporary, I recommend that Captain Martin Scott be promoted to the vacant majority 3d January, 1846.


James K. Polk, Special Message Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/200689

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