I’d often heard the term “brevet”, but hadn’t thought much about what that entailed. This is an interesting little note.
During the American Civil War, almost all senior officers received some form of brevet award, mainly during the final months of the war. These awards were made for gallantry or meritorious service, not for command. In addition to the authorization in a previous law for awards of brevet ranks to Regular Army officers, an act of Congress of March 3, 1863 authorized the award of brevet rank to officers of the United States Volunteers . Thus, brevet awards became increasingly common later in the war. Some officers even received more than one award. Because of the existence of both Regular Army and United States Volunteers ranks and the possibility that an officer could hold actual and brevet ranks in both services, some general and other officers could hold as many as four different ranks simultaneously. For example, by the end of the war, Ranald S. Mackenzie was a brevet major general of volunteers, an actual, full rank brigadier general of volunteers, a brevet brigadier general in the United States Regular Army, and an actual Regular Army captain.