SEPTEMBER 18TH, 1861: Flag Officer Du Pont was appointed Commander of the South Atlantic Blockading squadron. Du Pont wrote: "My appointment as a flag officer will be dated today.... Things have taken an active turn and this day is an epoch in naval history-- seniority and rotation have seen their last day.
"Selection with as much regard to seniority as the good of the service will admit, is now the order of the day."
Evidently promotion before the war was based strictly on seniority, not ability.