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The Confederate States Secretary of War was a member of the Confederate States President's Cabinet during the American Civil War. The Secretary of War was head of the Confederate States Department of War. The position ended in May 1865 when the Confederacy crumbled.

The Secretary of War, a Confederate cabinet position, was the chief officer of the Confederate War Department. Answerable to President Jefferson Davis, the Secretary of War controlled all matters regarding the Confederate States Army and Native Americans, and had the right to appoint as many clerks as necessary. This designation allowed the Secretary of War to create what eventually became the biggest department in the Confederacy. The President had the power to appoint and fire the Secretary of War for unnecessary, dishonest and inefficient work performance. The Secretary of War was also subject to impeachment proceedings from the Confederate Congress.

In OTL, the War Department was headed by a total of five men throughout its four-year existence: Leroy Walker, Judah Benjamin, George W. Randolph, James Seddon, and John Breckinridge. In some Harry Turtledove timelines, the Confederate States were legitimized as a nation and the office lasted longer.

The Guns of the South


Secretary of War Term Party President
4 James Seddon Seddon 1862-1868 None Jefferson Davis
5 Jefferson Davis JeffDavis 1868-novel's end Confederate Robert E. Lee

Southern Victory

Literary comment

The Confederate States War Department is the focus of numerous plot points throughout the series. One of these points is being the frequent target of Jake Featherston's ire. However, only one Secretary of War is ever named. This is Emmanuel Sellars (presumably a Whig), who appears briefly in American Front as the incumbent Secretary in 1914, serving under President Woodrow Wilson.

Other Secretaries

Judah Benjamin appears in The Guns of the South in his OTL role of Secretary of State, and in How Few Remain as Ambassador to the United States. He was Secretary of War before either novel's POD.

Historical Secretaries in non-Secretarial roles

John Breckinridge is briefly referenced in "Lee at the Alamo" as the outgoing Vice President of the United States. The story ends a bit too early for him to enter Confederate service.

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