I desire, as I have written to Major Iredell on the subject, to place in your possession my recollection of a private conversation between Maj. Iredell and myself, which it appears has been reported to you in a distorted shape.[Page 2]
The Conversation was introduced by Maj. Iredell by informing me that he understood Gen. Clingman had been assigned to the command of Gen. Branches Brigade and I agreed with him that one of the Colonels of the Brigade should have been promoted. He then remarked that he thought Col. Lane should be promoted - I differed with him - preferring Col. Avery, but as he had not reported for duty since his return and therefore was not likely to be so [prominently] before the [President] for the position I expressed a very decided preference for Col. Cowan to Col. Lane. He said he understood that Col. Lane was one of the best Colonels in the service and that his Regiment was one of the best drilled and disciplined bodies of troops from North Carolina - certainly superior to Col. Cowan as an officer. I differed again asserting in my opinion that Col. Cowan was a superior officer to Col. Lane and that his Regiment in my opinion in drill and discipline would bear me out in the assertion.
I think I [ ] it also as my opinion that
the appointment of Col. Cowan would give more satisfaction to the Brigade than that of Col. Lane, as Col. Cowan was a North Carolinian and Col. Lane was a Virginian.
This as far as I can recollect was the full extent of the conversation. I deny positively saying that Col. Lane was a poor officer or that his Regiment was an unorganized mob or words to that effect. The conversation was altogether in regard to the relative merits of Cols. Cowan and Lane and their claim to the promotion.
What purpose could have induced an Officer to violate social intercourse in making public a private conversation, tending to create ill feeling between a General and a member of his staff, or what reason the tale-bearer had for the immodest haste in retailing it to you is best known to them. I [envy] neither the feelings of the one nor the expectations of the otherVery Respectfully
Jos. A. Englehard