How Did Richard Henry Pratt Become a Brigadier General?

I had never understood why Richard Henry Pratt was promoted to Brigadier General after he retired. It didn’t make sense to me, but I had never given it enough thought to consider researching it. Now, the answer comes to me when I’m not looking for it. While trying to hammer down the precise date of Pratt’s removal from his position as Carlisle superintendent, I came across a June 12, 1904 New York Times article that discussed the matter. In addition to telling the story of why and how Pratt got fired, it explained how his promotion came about.

A year before this article was written, Pratt wrote President Roosevelt requesting that, when he reached the retirement age of 65 two years later, he be retired as a Brigadier General. Apparently not amused by the request, the President issued an order retiring him at his then current rank of colonel, not Brigadier General.

In a stroke of luck, Congress bailed Pratt out. They passed a bill providing that all officers who served in the Civil War be promoted one grade above the one they were holding when they retired. This is how Pratt became a Brigadier General.

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