U.S. Ship Vermont
Port Royal -- January 10th 1863
My dear Jim
I send you enclosed a copy of a Medical Survey just held upon me; which you will see pronounces me "Capable in physical sense of performing the duties of my profession."
The Admiral in forwarding my application (for restoration to active list) to the Department, will state that I was retired for physical causes alone as within his knowledge as a member of the retiring board.
Admiral Foote, also a member of that board, and now Chief of Bureau of Equipment, can add his testimony to this, if needed.
This physical disability being over come, if in a moral & professional sense there are no objections, my restoration should be an easy matter.
Fox told me, that everyone in the Dept knew I had only been retired from physical reasons, and those being removed they would be glad to have me restored. So that the recommendation of the Department will probably follow the receipt of my application & of the Surgeons report particularly if urged.
The difficulty will lie with the President & Senate & perhaps the House and the time to [ ] March is short -- and I am away & must look to some one to go to work for me.
Accordingly I desire Rebecca to see if any aid from Gen Curtin can be expected and I shall write to Admirals Smith & Foote to interest themselves in my behalf. Which I have no doubt they will do so for as the action of the Dept. is concerned.
But there may be a legal objection raised, as to the powers of the President to nominate in such a case as mine, and if such should be moved and if they cannot removed, there will be no recourse, but a joint resolution of both houses, Herein lies the trouble and I don't know where to go for help but to you. I might write to Senators & Repsd and be unheeded -- if I wrote ever so often and the day after.
The law of 1857 prescribed conditions for restoration of officers retired by law of 1855, but limited the period of their operation to one year.
I was unable to avail myself of those conditions, owing to physical causes then existing & only now removed.
My case is therefore an exceptional one, and the President may say this officer's case is an exceptional one, thins are now in his favor, there is no law prohibiting his nomination & I mite [sic] nominate him in which case it mite [sic] only be necessary to have friendly votes in the Senate.
Or he may say, the law of '57 disposed of the re-nomination of retired officer and I have no power to re-nominate in any case in which event a joint resolution would have to pass in my favor and there would be the rub. I can no more get a joint resolution introduced than I can take Charleston by myself, to say nothing about getting it passed. Nor can any of my Naval friends. I do not know if you can -- but this I do know that I must rely upon you for whatever is to be done in the premises, actively, in my behalf.
I suppose perhaps the Genl. may write to the Presid. or if he should be going to Washington that he might see him -- and that this interview would help the matter greatly, if reasonable. You said Thad Stevens would do what you asked him -- he is a power in the House at present -- next session me may not be -- It seems to me that now is a favorable time for me as is likely to offer. And that if you will take up the matter, as it is in your nature to do, you can put it through successfully. I wish therefore that you will consider me your client in every sense but in the expectation of a large fee, and go ahead accordingly. There is so much at stake for me, in the matter, that I can not hesitate to ask this brotherly service at your hands -- and I believe you will tender it so far as may be in your power.
I am very glad that John got to Kate's at Christmas, and that so many of you were together there on that day -- poor fellow no wonder his face is rough after such a year's Campaigning. I wish I could have with you & hope next year we may all meet in happier circumstances absent the present unsatisfactory state of affairs.
As ever and affy.
James L. Reynolds Esq.
[Post Script] The law of 1861 which provides that retired officers receiving a vote of thanks for gallant conduct against the enemy may be restored, applies only to officer retired for 45 years service or for being 62 years if age -- and doesn't refer to reserved officers, under law of 55 & 57.
[Archives & Special Collection, Franklin and Marshall College MS6 2/6]