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August 19, 1861: The effective date of Henry Halleck's promotion to major general, making him the fourth-highest ranking officer in the U.S. Army after General-in-chief Winfield Scott, George McClellan and John Frémont.
Scott recommended Halleck for the promotion in consideration of his reputation as a military genius. Halleck, a New Yorker, attended Hudson Academy and Union College, then West Point, graduating third in the class of 1839. During his 15 years of service in the U.S. Army, he constructed seacoast defenses, studied French military tactics, lectured, wrote, taught.
He was assigned to California during the Mexican War, eventually serving under General Bennet Riley, the governor general of the California Territory. Halleck was appointed military secretary of state and was one of the principal authors of the state constitution. Halleck retired from the army in 1854. When the Civil War began, he was amassing a fortune as a lawyer and land speculator in San Francisco.
Also on this date, the Confederate Congress passed a bill admitting Missouri into the Confederacy. The bill did not mean much as it recognized the government of Governor Claiborne Jackson as the legal authority to ratify the constitution. That government had been deposed and replaced with a more Unionist body.