James B. Fry was a West Point graduate and artillery specialist who was served briefly in the Mexican-American War. He came to Washington in the winter of 1861 to help protect the government during President Lincoln’s inauguration. He served as chief of staff to General Irvin McDowell in the Army of the Potomac and to General Don Carlos Buell in the Army of the Cumberland before he was appointed Provost-Marshal-General on March 17, 1863 – a position that placed him in repeated contact with President Lincoln.
Gen Fry was disliked by Benteen. What better recommendation could a man carry. Fry was not a provost marshal in the sense we use the term today. Although the Army used provost marshals in the field, and in towns and cities to oversee what today would be military police activities and for the control of POWs. These officers, using troops assigned to him, were staff officers appointed as needed. There was no Provost Marshall Corps or Department until the Congress enacted the Draft which went into effect in 1863. Gen Fry was a member of the Adjutant Generals Department. The Provost-Marshal-General's Department was actually an office within the Adjutant Generals Department. Fry was charged with administering the draft. He is generally believed to have done an excellent job.