JCCW – Gen. George W. Morell

5 06 2009

Testimony of Gen. George W. Morell

Report on the Conduct of the War, Vol. 2, pp. 49-54

WASHINGTON, D. C., December 28, 1861

General GEORGE W. MORELL sworn and examined.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question. You were on General Patterson’s staff, were you not?

Answer. I was on General Sanford’s staff, and with General Patterson a short time.

Question. You were with General Patterson from on or about the 16th to the 25th of July?

Answer. Yes, sir; that is, during the march from Martinsburg towards Winchester.

Question. What was General Patterson’s force at that time?

Answer. We estimated it at from 18,000 to 20,000 men.

Question. Mostly three months’ men?

Answer. They were all three months’ men except a small portion of regulars— a very small portion.

Question. General Johnston’s force was at Winchester?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. General Patterson’s force of from 18,000 to 20,000 men was at Martinsburg?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Can you tell on what day of the month General Patterson’s division advanced from Martinsburg towards Winchester?

Answer. Yes, sir; we left Martinsburg on the 15th of July, on Monday morning.

Question. Advancing towards Winchester?

Answer. Yes, sir; we went that day to Bunker Hill, a little over half way. We remained there until the 16th of July.

Question. What day of the week was that?

Answer. The 16th was Tuesday.

Question. That was within how many miles of Winchester?

Answer. I think it was eight or ten miles.

Question. Proceed.

Answer. I think we left the next morning, the 17th, at 3 o’clock.

Question. What direction did you then take and where did you go?

Answer. We first received orders in the evening to be ready to march in the morning, without the line of march being indicated to us. And just before we moved we received orders to go to Smithfield, or Midway, as it is called, which is on the main turnpike road from Harper’s Ferry to Winchester.

Question. How far did you go?

Answer. We went to Smithfield; and then, instead of going to Winchester, we made a retrograde movement to Charlestown. Then we knew we were going to Harper’s Ferry.

Question. While you were at Smithfield you were threatening Winchester?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. And had you remained at Smithfield you still threatened Winchester, and would have held Johnston in check by that threatening position?

Answer. I think we should.

Question. But the moment you turned down towards Charlestown you ceased to threaten Winchester?

Answer. Entirely so. That developed the whole movement.

Question. That left Johnston to start off where he pleased?

Answer. Yes, sir; and he did start that same day.

Question. Can you tell why that march towards Charlestown was made?

Answer. No, sir; I cannot.

Question. This place of Bunker Hill, or this of Midway, was threatening Winchester?

Answer. Yes, sir; within a few hours’ march of Winchester.

Question. According to the best information you could get, what was the force of Johnston in front of you at Winchester at that time?

Answer. I suppose he had a little over 20,000 men; anywhere from 20,000 to 25,000.

Question. You suppose your force was sufficient at any rate to hold him in check?

Answer. I have no doubt of that. And even if we had fought him and been beaten he would have been in no condition to have come down here.

Question. Did the officers on the staff understand, when you made that forward movement, that it was to threaten and hold Johnston in that position?

Answer. He supposed we were going to fight him immediately.

Question. Was the spirit of the troops such as to lead you to expect a favorable result?

Answer. Yes, sir; though I saw but little of them, except our own division. Four New York regiments went up under General Sanford to re-enforce General Patterson. I was then on General Sanford’s staff. Two of those regiments, the 5th and 12th, were excellent regiments. The other two were volunteers, and one of them was an excellent regiment. The New York troops were in excellent spirits until after we made that retrograde movement towards Charlestown. They then got a little shaky and dissatisfied.

By Mr. Odell.

Question. Did not General Sanford join these four regiments with four or six Other New York regiments there?

Answer. He had more than four regiments there. I think he had about 5,000 men. These four regiments I speak of went up with him from here.

Question. Did not General Sanford then, with these four regiments, with another portion of New York troops, some who had been under him, but were then with Patterson, and which were assigned to General Sanford on his coming there ?

Answer. Yes, sir; I think so. There were some troops previously with Patterson which were assigned to General Sanford’s command.

Question. Are you cognizant of the fact that General Sanford offered to fight Johnston with these New York troops alone, if General Patterson would support him?

Answer. No, sir. General Sanford has made such a remark to me. I do not know that he made the offer to General Patterson. I do not know what occurred between General Sanford and General Patterson.

Question. My recollection is that General Sanford said to me that he offered to fight Johnston, in whatever force he might be, with the New York regiments he had, if Patterson would support him.

Answer. General Sanford was anxious to go forward, I know.

By Mr. Chandler.

Question. You understood perfectly well when you turned off to Charlestown that you relieved Johnston’s army?

Answer. Yes, sir.

By the chairman.

Question. Do you know that any reason was given for that movement?

Answer. No, sir. I never heard any explanation of it. We joined General Patterson on Wednesday morning, I think, and moved the following Monday.

By Mr. Chandler.

Question. Were you cognizant of the fact that General Patterson sent to the War Department for still further re-enforcements on or about the 20th or 21st of July, about the time of the battle of Bull Run?

Answer. No, sir; I do not know anything of General Patterson’s intercourse with the department, or what his orders were.

Question. You were not absolutely upon his staff?

Answer. Not at all.

Question. You we’re upon General Sanford’s staff?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. With the army under Patterson?

Answer. Yes, sir.

By Mr. Johnson:

Question. Was it understood by the officers of the division there that this battle of Bull Run was to be fought on any particular day, or at any particular time?

Answer. We supposed it was to be fought about that time, but did not know any particular day for it. We knew that it was threatening, and supposed that General Patterson’s movement upon Johnston would be at the same time, and with the view of holding him in check. And when we turned off towards Charlestown I was under the impression, without knowing anything about it, that our object was attained, and that we had held him in check as long as it was necessary.

By the chairman:

Question. What prevented your destroying the railroad Johnston came down on?

Answer. It was below Winchester. We would have had first to have beaten him.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question. If you had beaten him, then you could have done it?

Answer, Yes, sir; we could then have come down on the very road he did. Even if we had fought him and been whipped, which I very much doubt, he could not have come down here. We would have given him such a fight that he would not have been in a condition to have come down to Manassas.

By Mr. Odell:

Question. When you arrived at Charlestown the soldiers were very much infuriated against Patterson, were they not?

Answer. Some of them expressed themselves very strongly against the movement. It did not grow into any difficulty that I am aware of.

Question. Did he not have to leave?

Answer. O! no, sir. Among some of the regiments—among those three New York regiments I spoke of, and some of the others—there was a strong feeling against him expressed; but it did not rise to anything like difficulty. One of the regiments, the eleventh Indiana, under Colonel Wallace, tendered their services ten days after their time had expired, so I was told at Charlestown. The first troops that wanted to go home were Pennsylvania troops.

By Mr. Chandler:

Answer. But as long as you were going forward towards the enemy nobody wanted to go home?

Answer. Not that I know of.

Question. All the dissatisfaction among the troops occurred after you turned back?

Answer. The first I heard was at Charlestown.

By Mr. Julian:

Question. What reason was given for turning down towards Charlestown?

Answer. I never heard of any. The commanding officer gives his orders, and .never assigns any reasons.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question. And when the order was given to march at three o’clock in the morning you supposed you were to march on the enemy?

Answer. Yes, sir; I supposed so. I know that on the day I was at Bunker Hill I was out with a large party, clearing out a side-road leading towards Winchester.

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