JCCW – Gen. John G. Barnard

15 07 2009

Testimony of Gen. John G. Barnard

Report on the Conduct of the War, Vol. 2, pp. 160-162

WASHINGTON, January 11, 1862.

General JOHN G. BARNARD sworn and examined.

By the chairman:

Question. Were you at the battle of Bull Run?

Answer Yes, sir.

Question. In what capacity?

Answer I was the chief of the engineer corps of General McDowell’s army.

Question. Without going minutely into the matter, will you state concisely to what you attribute the disaster to our army in that battle?

Answer. One of the influential causes was, I think, the loss of time in getting under way the morning of the fight. The fact that the repulse turned into a disastrous defeat I attribute to the fact that our troops were all raw. General McDowell had not even time to see all his troops They were brigaded only for the march, and put under officers whom the troops had not time to know, and who had no time to know the troops; and they had not been under military training long enough to be thoroughly educated as to what they had to do. With every disposition to fight well, they had not acquired the knowledge and experience they should have had, and when they were driven back on the narrow roads, in small bodies, they became so mixed up that it was almost impossible to recognize them.

Question. You attribute the first bad phase of that battle to the fact that our troops did not get on the ground in time?

Answer. Yes, sir. I think an hour’s difference would have gained the battle. We had almost gained it as it was.

Question. What caused that delay?

Answer. There were two cause distinct from each other. One was that in the plan of attack General Tyler’s division was to move first on the Warrenton turnpike to Stone Bridge, while the really attacking column which was to turn the enemy’s left flank, and which consisted of Hunter’s and Heintzelman’s divisions, had to follow Tyler until they reached the road where they were to turn off to make this detour. The road into which they were to turn was not a beaten, travelled road, but a mere country path. And Tyler’s division was not out of the way so that they could get up to that turn-off for an hour and a half later than was expected. So that, instead of getting at that point at four o’clock, the head of Hunter’s column was not able to get there until, say about half-past five. That was the first cause.

Question. What delayed Tyler’s division; did you ever know?

Answer. When General McDowell and his staff rode along after waiting for the columns to get in motion—this was at four or half past four o’clock— we found the columns standing in the road waiting for one of Tyler’s brigades to get out of camp and under motion. Perhaps there was some fault in planning it, in overlooking the fact that Tyler’s division was so large, including three brigades, and the want of experience that we all had in moving large bodies of men. But whether it was General Tyler’s fault in not getting his troops under way in time, I am not competent enough to decide. I think that after we had waited for some time General McDowell had to stop the last brigade of Tyler’s division until Hunter’s division filed past.

I said there were two causes for that delay. The second was the much longer time it took for the column of Hunter’s to get around to Sudley’s Ford than we calculated for. In going over the ground as far as we could the day before, we fell upon the enemy’s patrol, and, not liking to attract their attention that way, we did not explore the ground up to the ford. We found that the ground was perfectly free; that there was nothing to obstruct cavalry or artillery; and the guide took them by a detour, saying that we would be exposed to the enemy’s batteries if we took the shorter road. So that we were three or four hours making that march through the woods. We did not get to the ford until half past nine or ten o’clock, and we ought to have been there at six o’clock. We succeeded in our operations. We deceived the enemy as to the point we were going to attack. We turned his left flank. He actually did not know the point of attack until twelve o’clock, when he commenced accumulating his forces at that point. If we had been earlier, we should have got on the Warrenton turnpike, in the rear of Stone Bridge, before he could have got there We should have concentrated three divisions there.

Question. There was a strong brigade on Centreville Heights after the retreat began?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. What would have been the effect of ordering up that force to support the retreating columns?

Answer. When I saw that there was danger of losing the battle—when I saw the first charge, the first repulse of the Zouave regiment, the first capture of Ricketts’s battery—I began to fear that we would be beaten. I had felt confident of a victory up to that time, but then I began to see the possibility of a repulse. We supposed that the Stone Bridge was unguarded, and if we were beaten, and the enemy should cross there, we would be cut off. I had got separated from General McDowell, and I hunted up the adjutant, who was behind attending to some duty, and requested him to order up the brigade at Centreville to the Stone Bridge, in order to support us there, as we supposed the division of Tyler had entirely got across the bridge. General McDowell left that brigade at Centreville as a reserve at a central point, as he was afraid that while we were operating on the enemy’s left, making this long detour to do so, the enemy would pass Blackburn’s Ford and manoeuvre up by Centreville on our left flank. I had rather overlooked that until I saw it in General McDowell’s report.  And General Beauregard says that if we had not anticipated him, he would have attacked us. He actually did send an order to General Ewell to move up and attack our communication that way; and the reason it was not done was because the order miscarried in some way, so that that part of his plan failed. If they had attacked and carried that position at the same time that we were repulsed on our left, we would have been worse off than we were.

Question. But would not have been defeated, would you, if that strong division at Centreville had been at the fight? They would have gone right through them, would they not?

Answer. If our line had held out for a half an hour longer, we would have beaten the enemy as it was, because Schenck’s brigade at the Stone Bridge was at that moment just ready to act. The enemy had made an abattis on the other side; cut down the woods for some two hundred yards back from the bridge. Two of Tyler’s brigades had crossed over to join our left. Schenck’s brigade had remained at the bridge, and Captain Alexander had cut through the abattis and was ready to move on the enemy’s right just at the moment that they received news that our men were retreating. I believe if we had held out a half an hour, or even but a quarter of an hour, longer, we should have beaten them.

Question. If Patterson had held Johnston back, what would have been the effect?

Answer. We should have beaten them. That was the only thing that saved them.

Question. At what time before the battle commenced was it understood that Patterson was not holding Johnston back?

Answer. All that I knew about it, and all, I believe, that was distinctly known in the army about it, was that we heard the railroad cars running all night long. We were near enough at Centreville to hear the locomotives at Manassas.

Question. Suppose that when Patterson turned off from Bunker Hill to Charlestown, the moment that he knew he was no longer able to hold Johnston back, he had given notice to General Scott, and that notice had come to you, what would have been the effect of it upon your councils, had you heard it the day before the battle?

Answer. I think we should have fought any way. We could not have delayed any longer; that would have done us no good. The time of the three months’ volunteers was expiring. We had made that march to fight, and I think we would have fought.

Question. Suppose you had held your own there until Patterson had followed Johnston down?

Answer. If we had received something definite—a communication of that kind—I think it is likely the determination would have been altered.

Question. I mean if that communication had been given directly from Patterson to General Scott, and from General Scott had been sent immediately to you, I suppose the effect upon your council would have been at least to wait until Patterson had followed Johnston down?

Answer. If we had received the information in a distinct form, we might have acted differently. I know that, with what information we had, it was uncertain. The question was discussed, “Shall we defer the attack?” and it was concluded that we better fight as soon as we could. We heard the railroad cars running all night, and presumed that Johnston’s forces were coming in. But the moral effect of a delay would have been bad, and that action at Blackburn’s Ford had a bad effect on the army.

Answer. Could you not have brought up 10,000 or 15,000 more troops from Washington by a little delay?

Answer. By stripping Washington entirely of all its troops we might have done so, I suppose. I do not recollect what the whole force was here then.

Question. General Tyler was sent around to make a reconnoissance merely, as we have been told, not to make an attack, on the 18th?

Answer. He was not expected to go further than Centreville, I think. I think he was not expected to make any attack at all.

Question. Seeing that he did make an attack, he should have carried those batteries, should he not, if he could have done so? And if he had, would it not have cleared the way for the next battle, so that you could have turned their left?

Answer. He ought not to have made the attack at all without knowing that he could do something. He ought to have made the attack with the intention of carrying the position, or not have made it at all. I was on the spot, and warned him twice that it was not intended to fight a battle there; that it was on the straight road to Manassas, at one of the strongest crossings on Bull Run, and that it was evident the enemy was moving up his force to meet us there. And as he had no orders to fight, and as there was no plan to fight there, I did all I could to get him to desist. I had no objection to his opening his artillery fire, for that was a sort of reconnoissance, to make them show just what they were. But I had no idea that they were going to march down to the Run and fight as they did.

Porter on Patterson’s Staff

14 07 2009

Fitz_John_PorterSome readers may be surprised upon seeing Fitz-John Porter’s testimony before the JCCW on Robert Patterson’s activities in the Shenandoah Valley at the time of First Bull Run.  Yes, he was on Patterson’s staff.  Most historians fail to mention Porter’s presence there, with the notable exception of Russel Beatie.  Perhaps more attention should be focused here?

Put together these several puzzle pieces:  Robert Patterson, contrary to popular perception, had spent a total of about five years in military service prior to becoming a Major General of PA militia in April, 1861.  Those five years consisted of three in the war of 1812, and two in the war with Mexico; Scott gave Patterson explicit instructions to consult with and take the advice of the regular army officers with him; Porter’s JCCW testimony is almost a mirror image of Patterson’s.

Hmmm…you know, George “Slow Trot” Thomas was also one of the regular army officers whose advice was available to Patterson.

JCCW – Gen. Fitz-John Porter

13 07 2009

Testimony of Gen. Fitz-John Porter

Report on the Conduct of the War, Vol. 2, pp. 152-159

WASHINGTON, January 11, 1862.

General FITZ-JOHN PORTER recalled and examined.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. Were you on General Patterson’s staff?

Answer. Yes, sir; I was his assistant adjutant general, and with him from almost the commencement of his expedition. At all events, I was with him from about the 1st of May.

Question. Then you were with him when he moved from Martinsburg?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Will you state concisely the movement from Martinsburg?

Answer. I do not recollect the dates.

Question. We understand that he moved from Martinsburg on the 15th of July.

Answer. We moved from Martinsburg direct upon Bunker Hill.

Question. What distance?

Answer. I think it was about twelve miles. We there remained one day. There was a heavy force towards Winchester, and the following morning we moved from Bunker Hill to Charlestown.

Question. Johnston was at that time intrenched at Winchester?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. When you were at Bunker Hill how far were you from Winchester?

Answer. I think about twelve miles.

Question. How far is it from Charlestown?

Answer. About the same distance.

Question. You sent forward a heavy force towards Winchester on Tuesday, the 16th?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Did they meet any enemy?

Answer. The cavalry of the enemy came in contact with them, some 500 or 600 of them; that is the report we received; I do not know it myself. They met that force, and I think a few cannon shot and a few infantry shot passed.

Question. Did they find any obstruction?

Answer. The road, as I understood, had trees felled across; had a fence put across it; was barricaded.

Question. Did they go near enough to ascertain whether Johnston was intrenched at Winchester?

Answer. They did not.

Question. Did you know at that time whether he was or not intrenched at Winchester?

Answer. Yes, sir; we knew it six weeks before.

Question. And these barricades were thrown up to prevent your progress towards Winchester?

Answer. Yes, sir; I always presumed these barricades were put there with the design, if he retired, (as I supposed he was prepared to do,) that we should not be able to pursue him.

Question. To prevent your pursuit if he retired towards Manassas?

Answer. Yes, sir; to give us all the obstructions he could while he was at his ease.

Question. While at Bunker Hill you were threatening Johnston?

Answer. Yes, sir; and I always considered that to be the design unless our force was superior to Johnston.

Question. You considered that during that campaign you were to take care of Johnston’s force, and particularly at this period of the campaign?

Answer. Yes, sir; it was to try and hold him at Winchester.

Question. It was deemed of the first importance that Johnston should be held in the valley of Winchester at that time, in order that he might not be present and participate with Beauregard at Manassas when General McDowell made his attack?

Answer. Yes, sir; and there was also a fear which was expressed by General Scott in one of his despatches in a direction to be careful not to drive Johnston on Manassas.

Question. But to threaten him.

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. You being on the staff of course saw the despatches of the commander-in-chief to General Patterson?

Answer. Yes, sir; they were all filed away under my direction.

Question. Did you not understand, from the general character of these despatches, that General Scott especially desired that Johnston should be held by Patterson’s force?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. That was the great point that General Scott required there.

Answer. Yes, sir; that was the desire. And he also expressed the desire that if Johnston retired from Winchester in force not to pursue him, but take into consideration the route via Leesburg, through Keyes’s Ferry, or better still, cross the Potomac twice and go, via Leesburg, down this way.

Question. That is, in case Johnston went down by way of Strasburg, it was deemed hazardous to follow him in that direction.

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. And in order that you might be up with him, you were to take the other road right down as rapidly as possible.

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. So that, in case Johnston should get down and form a junction with Beauregard, you should be on hand to join McDowell?

Answer. That was the design.

Question. When you made the march from Bunker Hill towards Charlestown, you were then retreating from Johnston, going further from him?

Answer. That was regarded at that time as a necessity.

Question. The fact was, you were going from Johnston?

Answer. Yes, sir; we were retiring, or rather it was going further from Winchester.

Question. Of course you were threatening Johnston less at Charlestown than you were at Bunker Hill?

Answer. Yes, sir. But the design in going to Charlestown was to get near our depot where provisions could be provided. From that point the design was, and the directions were given, to move again upon Winchester.

Question. When did you first learn of the battle of Bull Run, of the engagement of McDowell with the rebels there?

Answer. The first information was a telegraph from General Scott stating that the first move of McDowell had caused the enemy to abandon Fairfax Court-House. But there was no intimation after that, I think, until the Thursday night afterwards.

Question. Thursday, the 18th of July.

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. You got the news then that he had moved and driven the enemy from Fairfax?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Then you say you do not know when you first got the news of the battle at Bull Run.

Answer. No, sir; I do not recollect?

Question. You were about to explain why the movement was made from Bunker Hill to Charlestown.

Answer. It was in part the carrying out a plan which had been submitted to General Scott to take Charlestown and make Harper’s Ferry a depot. The communication, via Williamsport, up to Martinsburg was a long one, and continually threatened. From Charlestown down to Harper’s Ferry was a short distance, and there was a railroad there available for use; and another thing, it was much easier to go down in this direction by immediately crossing to Leesburg and striking from there, if necessary, over to Manassas. The proposition had been submitted several days before this movement was made, but there was no reply made to it by General Scott until, I think, three or four days after its probable receipt by him. It was then too late for us to make the move which had been indicated, and go to Charlestown and there establish a depot and threaten Johnston on the Tuesday when it was designed to make the threat. We had a great many supplies, and transportation was not very abundant, and the movement of the supplies from Martinsburg to Charlestown had to be covered by an advance upon Bunker Hill; and in order to carry out General Scott’s wish to threaten Johnston strongly on Tuesday, as that was the day he said he was going to make the attack on Manassas, the movement to Bunker Hill was made, and we there remained threatening him. We could not carry at any time more than three days’ provisions. In the mean time the provisions were being changed, and all the supply train that could possibly be gathered from Hagerstown and Williamsport was brought up there, and the movement to Bunker Hill covered the movement of the train to Charlestown.

Question. The question submitted to General Scott whether our forces should be at Charlestown or Martinsburg for threatening Johnston?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. And as between Charlestown and Martinsburg General Scott approved of Charlestown?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. That brought you into a better position with reference to Johnston at Winchester than you were in at Martinsburg?

Answer. Just about the same relative position, but better for us if we had required a forward movement.

Question. You were not threatening Johnston at Charlestown so much as at Bunker Hill?

Answer. While we were at Bunker Hill all the train we could get together at Martinsburg was carrying all our supplies over to Charlestown, and it was covered by the movement of the army over to Charlestown by Bunker Hill. If we had been compelled to come down to the assistance of McDowell, we would have been compelled to abandon everything at Martinsburg if we had remained there, or even at Bunker Hill.

Question. That was not true at Charlestown?

Answer. No, sir; everything there could have been pushed at once to Harper’s Ferry and secured.

Question. Johnston was at Winchester when you were at Bunker Hill?

Answer. Yes, sir; before and afterwards.

Question. And he remained there until the next day, when you moved to Charlestown?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. And on Thursday, the day following, he moved to Mauassas?

Answer. He broke up, I think, at 2 o’clock on Thursday.

Question. Do you know how long it took him to make the passage from Winchester to Manassas?

Answer. I think he got to Manassas on the day of the battle, Sunday.

Question. So that if you had detained him one day longer at Winchester, he would have been too late for the battle?

Answer. Yes, sir; but I do not believe he could have been detained; that was my own impression.

Question. Was it your impression at the time you were at Bunker Hill that Johnston would move down to Manassas?

Answer. Yes, sir; when it was necessary for him to go to Manassas.

Question. You believed, then, that he would go?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. That that was his intention?

Answer. Yes, sir; and that it was an utter impossibility for us to hold him.

Question. You came to that conclusion when you were at Bunker Hill?

Answer. Yes, sir; and not only then, but long before. We came to that conclusion when we were at Hagerstown.

Question. Did General Patterson come to that conclusion?

Answer. I do not know.

Question. Was that question discussed in your councils at all?

Answer. In speaking of it—General Patterson, Captain Newton—we all were under the impression that if we went to Winchester the enemy, as we advanced, would quietly retire; that as we went along, they would also go along a little further back, and gradually draw us forward until the time came when they would suddenly strike us, and make a dash at Manassas.

Question. The prevailing opinion among General Patterson’s staff was, that the enemy would, at an opportune moment, dash forward so as to be at Manassas?

Answer. Yes, sir; that is my impression of the existing opinion.

Question. Do you know whether any such impression as that was ever communicated to the general-in-chief?

Answer. I do not.

Question. You do not know whether any such communication was ever made to the general-in-chief?

Answer. No, sir; I have no recollection of anything of the kind.

Question. You say General Scott had indicated Tuesday as the day he would fight?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Therefore you deemed it of prime importance to hold Johnston over Tuesday?

Answer. Yes, sir; of great importance to hold him over Tuesday. Even if the fight was delayed, or not decided for one or two days, Johnston could not reach there.

Question. Did you not also deem it of prime importance that you should, if possible, detain Johnston until you knew the result of the attack by General McDowell upon Manassas?

Answer. Yes, sir; and when we got to Charlestown preparations were made at once to advance upon Winchester and continue the same movement.

Question. Was there any demonstration ever made from Charlestown towards Winchester?

Answer. Yes, sir. Quite a heavy reconnoissance was sent from there under Colonel, now General, Thomas.

Question. The enemy must have inferred from your movement from Bunker Hill to Charlestown—must have come to the conclusion that you did not intend to commence an attack upon them?

Answer. They may have come to that conclusion. I presume their thought was that we were then making a move to get down to Leesburg, and so on down.

Question. They probably inferred that you intended to go down by way of Leesburg?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. And therefore they must hasten their forces forward and go down, so as to be equal with you?

Answer. Probably so.

Question. That would have been natural?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. If they had drawn that inference they would have done what they did do?

Answer. Yes, sir; and to prevent their drawing that conclusion this force was sent out the following morning.

Question. You felt it was necessary to do something to do away with that impression?

Answer. Yes, sir; and a force was thrown out for that purpose. I will say here that when we were at Bunker Hill there was a commencement—in fact, it commenced at Martinsburg—of demoralization among the troops, which tended to prevent an attack.  Some of them positively refused. There was a petition from one of the regiments, signed by a number of the captains, which I think is, or ought to be, in General Patterson’s possession. He always kept it. It never went on the files of the records of the office.

Question. Have you any doubt that your men would have gone forward from Bunker Hill if you had desired them to do so?

Answer. I think they would have gone, but with very great reluctance—with no confidence. I think the great confidence of that command was destroyed immediately after the withdrawal of the regular troops from the command, when it first crossed the Potomac.

Question. Did you communicate to General Scott, immediately upon your withdrawal to Charlestown, the fact that you were not in position then to hold Johnston?

Answer. I have no recollection of it.

Question Why did you not follow down by way of Leesburg, via Keyes’s Ferry, as indicated by General Scott in his despatch to which you have referred?

Answer. My impression about that is that General Patterson was ordered to remain there.

Question. And that was the reason he did not move immediately down?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Otherwise he would have moved immediately forward?

Answer. That I do not know.

Question. You would suppose so?

Answer. I do not know. I cannot say with reference to General Patterson’s opinion at all.

Question. I do not ask you what General Patterson’s opinion was.

Answer. I think the reason we did not move forward was the effort being made to retain Johnston at Winchester. That is my own impression; that was my own view at the time we were there; and, in order to retain Johnston, orders were given for the men to carry two days’ provisions, and those provisions were being prepared for the purpose. The circular was sent around, and immediately after a number of officers came in. Some of them spoke to me, and begged, if I had any influence at all, I would prevent that movement. One came in and said his men were very much demoralized, and said they would not go.

Question. On what day was this?

Answer. I think that was Thursday.

Question. Do you remember what officer that was who said his men would not go?

Answer. I think it was Colonel Johnson, Colonel Meredith, or Colonel Minier; one of those three I think it was.

Question. When you were at Bunker Hill an order was given, was it not, to move forward on Wednesday towards Winchester?

Answer. Not that I am certain of; I think not.

Question. Was not General Sanford’s division ordered to move forward on Wednesday?

Answer. Not towards Winchester that I know of.

Question. Do you know what time on Tuesday the order was issued to move on Charlestown on the next day, Wednesday?

Answer. I do not think it got out until one o’clock that night.

Question. Then you were in doubt during the day of Tuesday about the movement on Charlestown?

Answer. There was a design of remaining at Bunker Hill that day, but provisions would not permit them to remain there over Wednesday. We were obliged to meet the provisions at Charlestown, which were then in the train moving from Martinsburg. The regiments were ordered to leave Martinsburg with three days’ provisions; but many of them did not take one day’s provisions; some of them were very improvident. There were two regiments, and one was Colonel Johnson’s, that had no provisions at all.

Question. Could you not have brought your provisions from Charlestown to Bunker Hill as well as have gone from Bunker Hill to the provisions at Charles-town? ,

Answer. We could have got them up, but not in time to move forward and make an attack.

Question. They could have reached you at Bunker Hill?

Answer. Yes, sir. I would like to say this much: that at the time this order was given for the movement from Charlestown the officers came in and requested that it should be delayed, and that an appeal should be made to the men. It was suspended until General Patterson went out and made his appeal. The intention then was to move upon Winchester.

Question. That was on Thursday?

Answer. Yes, sir; the day after we got to Charlestown. He went out and made this appeal, and a very earnest one; and from some of the regiments that he asked at first the cry immediately was for shoes and pants.

Question. Was the appeal that they should go on and attack Winchester?

Answer. I was not present at this appeal, but I was informed that they were told that this movement was to be made, or that they were wanted for a few days longer. Some of them said they would not march—they were unprepared.

By Mr. Covode:

Question. Did not some of the regiments say they would remain if they were led to battle?

Answer. Not a word said upon that.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. Your men had got very tired of marching?

Answer. I think that was the case; I think they had not much confidence in each other. There were a great many of the men without shoes. There was one regiment which afterwards came forward, expressing its willingness to remain—Colonel Wallace’s regiment from Indiana; and when General Patterson thanked them for it a number of the Pennsylvania regiments did the same thing—offered to remain; others refused. Colonel Wallace turned to me and said: “Those boys have come up to offer their services to remain or move forward ; but if they were called upon to march, there would not be three hundred of them that could march for want of shoes.” I think General Patterson’s great desire was to hold Johnston at Winchester. I think he felt he could not do so; I am certain of it. I think the main portion of that command felt that if they made an attack upon Winchester there would be nothing left of them.

Question. You think it was the general feeling in General Patterson’s staff that it was absolutely beyond your power to hold Johnston?

Answer. I think so.

Question. And you think that General Patterson shared that feeling with his staff officers?

Answer. Yes, sir.

By the chairman:

Question. At what time was that feeling?

Answer. I do not think it was in the mind of any of General Patterson’s staff, or any of the brigade commanders, that Johnston would stay in Winchester to meet an attack unless he was very powerful; and if he was wanted down in this direction, he could more whenever he pleased, and we could not touch him. I think that was the prevailing opinion.

Question. Can you tell why General Patterson did not communicate to General Scott the fact that he could not hold Johnston, as soon as he was satisfied of that fact?

Answer. I cannot tell you why he did not. I am of the opinion that General Scott was of that opinion himself. I think he says so in his despatch, where he says if Johnston retires in force do not follow him.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. That is, if he retire by Strasburg?

Answer. I do not think he said if he retire by Strasburg—but if he retire in force. I never expected that he would retire by Strasburg.

By the chairman:

Question. It was the design, in that case, for Patterson to follow down to Manassas.

Answer. He said, take into consideration the going by way of Leesburg.

Question. General Scott did at one time think that Patterson could detain Johnston in the valley of Winchester, did he not?

Answer. I do not think there is anything in his despatches to that effect. I think that General Scott, by sending more troops there, showed that he thought we had not enough.

Question. Your idea is that General Scott did not suppose that General Patterson would detain Johnston in the valley there?

Answer. I do not think he thought so.

Question. Of course, then, in your estimation, any such expectation could not have entered into his calculations in regard to the attack upon Manassas?

Answer. I think not. General Scott may have had the hope that we would detain Johnston. .

Question. Why did General Patterson advance towards Winchester at all if he did not think he could detain Johnston?

Answer. The object in advancing towards Winchester was partly to cover the movement of his supplies from Martinsburg to Charlestown, and partly also to carry out what General Scott directed him to do on Tuesday, to make a demonstration with the hope of holding Johnston at Winchester. I believe General Patterson, if he had thought there was any chance at all of whipping Johnston at Winchester, would have gone there. I heard him often express the wish, and say, “we will move at such or such a time.” And in some cases he gave orders to that effect. But I think General Patterson began to feel that his troops would not carry him out if he went to Winchester.

Question. He had no confidence in his troops?

Answer I think not. Many of the officers had not, and came forward and so expressed themselves. I think he was influenced by that. I do not say he did not have confidence in his troops, but I think he was influenced in his movements by the opinions that the officers expressed.

By Mr. Covode:

Question. Did you ever know of Colonel Johnson refusing to go with General Patterson previous to the time that you came back to Charlestown; that is, was it before or after the time that you went from Bunker Hill to Charlestown that Colonel Johnson signified his unwillingness to remain?

Answer. I do not think that Colonel Johnson himself signified that, but a large portion of his regiment. ,

Question. Was it before or after you went to Charlestown?

Answer. It was while we were at Charlestown. I never heard it before. And I never heard Colonel Johnson refuse to remain; on the contrary, he wanted to remain there.

Question. Do you know of any other regiments that refused to remain in the service previous to the time you turned back to Charlestown?

Answer. Yes, sir; one regiment presented its petition at Martinsburg. And that written petition, I think, is in General Patterson’s possession now.

Question. Do you recollect what regiment that was?

Answer. I think it was the 6th Pennsylvania regiment. I think it was a written statement that their regiment would not remain, but demanded to be sent home by the time their service expired. There was another thing occurred while we were at Martinsburg. Information came to the men—how it got there no one ever knew—that an order had been published by the Secretary of War directing all volunteers then in service to be returned to their homes in time to be mustered out at the expiration of their term of service. That information was brought up there at Martinsburg. I supposed at the time that it was brought up there by some person probably friendly to the enemy.

JCCW – Gen. Erasmus D. Keyes

13 07 2009

Testimony of Gen. Erasmus D. Keyes

Report on the Conduct of the War, Vol. 2, pp. 149-152

WASHINGTON, January 8, 1862.

General E. D. KEYES sworn and examined.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. Were you in the battle of Bull Run as brigadier general?

Answer. Yes, sir; I was acting brigadier; I was then a colonel.

Question. Will you tell us in what part of the field you were; and, in short, what you saw—what came under your own observation on that day?

Answer. I crossed Bull Run, directly following Sherman. I was in Tyler’s division and followed Sherman, and came into action on the left of our line, and my line of operations was down Bull Run, across the Warrenton turnpike. I crossed about half a mile above Stone Bridge and came into action a little before 11 o’clock, and passed to the left, and moved down a little parallel to Bull Run; and when I received orders to retire, I was nearly a mile in advance’ of the position where I had commenced. When I started into the action I was close up with Sherman’s brigade; but as I advanced forward, and got along a line of heights that overlooked Bull Run, Sherman’s brigade diverged from me, and I found myself separated from them, so that I saw nothing up there, except at a distance, beyond what related to my own brigade. I continued to advance, and was continually under fire until about 4 o’clock, when I received orders that our troops were retiring. I came off in perfect order, and was in perfect order all the day.

Question. You were on the left?

Answer. Yes, sir; opposed to the right of the enemy.

Question. Then, so far as you saw in your immediate vicinity, there was no rout?

Answer. No, sir; there was no confusion. I retired in just the same order nearly as I went into the fight; but when the masses mingled together as they came to cross Bull Run, there was confusion.

Question. What proportion of our troops reached the run without rout?

Answer. I being on the extreme left, of course all our people who withdrew before the enemy had to go a much longer distance than I had to go to reach Bull Run, because I was near to it at the time I received orders to retire. I moved up almost perpendicularly to the line of retreat of the balance of the army. As I approached the line of men in retreat they were all walking; I saw nobody run or trot even until coming down to Bull Run. In coming down there a great many wounded men were carried along, and I was detained so that the whole of my brigade got past me. I saw the quartermaster when I crossed Bull Run, and asked him where the teams were, and he said they were ahead; he saved them all but one, and got them back to camp. I then inquired of some ten or twelve squads of men to find out if they belonged to my brigade, and I found but one that did. Shortly after that a staff officer of mine came up and told me that my brigade was all ahead. I increased my pace, and got back to Centreville a little after dark, and found nearly all my brigade there. I did not come to the Potomac until Tuesday evening. There was no confusion at all in the whole affair, so far as my brigade was concerned, except very slightly in the retreat from Bull Run to the camp at Centreville; that I considered a perfect rout.

Question. You were in Tyler’s division, and you moved first on the field in the morning?

Answer. Our division started first; but I received orders to make way for Hunter’s and Heintzelman’s divisions to pass through, as they had to go further to the right. So that before I got into action it was nearly eleven o’clock.

Question. Do you know why your division was stopped for the other divisions to pass through?

Answer. I thought it very obvious. Hunter had to go furthest up Bull Run to cross; then Heintzelman had to go next; and the next lower down was Tyler’s division. To enable the several divisions to arrive about simultaneous against the enemy, Hunter should go first and Heintzelman next. The reason we started first was, because our division was encamped ahead of the others mostly.

Question. How far from where you started did Hunter’s and Heintzelman’s divisions turn off?

Answer. Heintzelman’s division passed through mine in the neighborhood of Cub Run.

Question. How far did they go on the same route you were going?

Answer. About a half or three-quarters of a mile beyond Cub Run, I think. I was not with them, but that is my impression.

Question. Do you know from whom the order proceeded for you to let the other divisions pass through your division?

Answer. My first order was from General Tyler, and then I received another order from General McDowell to remain where I was. When I sent word forward to know if I should go forward, General McDowell sent orders to remain where I was.

Question. Could you not have have passed on to the point where the other divisions turned off without bringing you in immediate contact with the enemy?

Answer. I think I could; yes, sir. But I did not know that at the time, and I do not know whether it was known to others or not.

By the chairman:

Question. To what did you attribute the disaster of that day?

Answer. To the want of 10,000 more troops—that is, I think if we had had 10,000 more troops than we had to go into action, say at eleven o’clock in the morning, we should certainly have beaten them. I followed along down the stream, and Sherman’s battery diverged from me, so that it left a wide gap between us, and 10,000 more men could have come in between me and Sherman, which was the weak point in our line, and before Johnston’s reserves came up it would have been won. I thought the day was won about two o’clock; but about half past three o’clock a sudden change in the firing took place, which, to my ear, was very ominous. I sent up my aide-de-camp to find out about the matter, but he did not come back.

Question. What time was it that you ascertained on the field of battle that Patterson had not detained Johnston’s column, but that it would probably be down there? Was it before the fight commenced?

Answer. There were rumors about the camp, to which I attached no particular importance. I supposed that Patterson was engaged up the river there, and would hold Johnston in check or follow him up if he should retreat. That was my impression at the time.

Question. Was that so understood at the time the battle was planned?

Answer. We had a council of war the night before the battle, but it was a very short one. It was not a council of war exactly; it was a mere specification of the line in which we should all proceed the next day. The plans appeared to have been digested and matured before that meeting was called. Whether anything was said about Johnston and Patterson at that meeting, I am not sure. I think not. That subject was discussed about the camp; but I know my own impression was that Patterson was opposed to Johnston, and would certainly follow him up if he should attempt to come and molest us. I know I conversed with some persons about it; but I do not think a word was said about it at the meeting the night before the battle.

Question. Had it been known that Patterson had not detained Johnston, would it not have been imprudent to hazard a battle there any how?

Answer. If it had been known that the 30,000 to 40,000 men that Johnston was said to have had, would have been upon us, it would have been impolitic to have made the attack on Sunday.

Question. If Johnston had not come down to the aid of Beauregard’s army, what, in your opinion, would have been the result of that battle?

Answer. My impression is that we should have won it. I know that the moment the shout went up from the other side, there appeared to be an instantaneous change in the whole sound of the battle, so much so that I sent my aid at the top of his speed to find out what was the matter. That, as far as I can learn, was the shout that went up from the enemy’s line when they found out for certain that it was Johnston and not Patterson that had come.

Question. Even after the disaster, what prevented your making a stand at Centreville, and sending for re-enforcements and renewing the fight there?

Answer. I was not the commander-in-chief.

Question. I know that; I only ask your opinion of what might have been done there.

Answer. If we .had had troops that were thoroughly disciplined it would have been the greatest military mistake in the world to have retreated further than Centreville. But as our troops were raw, and this capital appeared to be the point in issue, I think men of decided military ability might have been in doubt as to the policy of remaining there. There was a striking want of generalship on the other side for not following us. If they had followed us they might have come pell-mell into the capital.

Question. Was it not as likely that you could defend the capital on Centreville Heights as well as after the rout here?

Answer. I will simply tell you what I did myself. I came back to my old camp at Fall’s Church, and remained there until five o’clock on the afternoon of Tuesday, with my whole command. Then I marched them in good order, and passed three or four miles before I saw any of our own people. My impression then was that I could rally them there better than here. I acted upon that impulse myself. I did not bring my troops into town, which was the worst place in the world to restore order, but kept them in my camp at Fall’s Church.

Question. Was there not a strong brigade on Centreville Heights that had not been in the engagement at all on that day?

Answer. There was a division there—three brigades.

Question. Could.not a stand have been made there; and if it had been made, would our troops have been so demoralized as they were by running further?

Answer. It was a complicated question, and required, in my opinion, a first-rate head to decide; and if you have not a first-rate head of course you must guess a little. In my opinion it is a question that involves many considerations; first, the want of absolute command of the troops. The troops then were not in a sufficient state of discipline to enable any man living to have had an absolute command of them. The next point was to balance all the probabilities in regard to this capital; that is, was it more probable that the capital would fall into the hands of the enemy by retreating than by remaining there t I confess it was a question so complicated that I cannot answer it very definitely.

Question. If you had had knowledge on the ground, before the battle, of the condition of things with Patterson and Johnston, it seems to me that battle should not have been fought that day at all.

Answer. I should not have done it myself, certainly, if I had had that knowledge.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. I suppose there was no such absolute knowledge as that?

Answer. No, sir; I do not think there was.

By the chairman:

Question. Ought not military men to have been informed of that important and decisive fact before we made a movement?

Answer. It is certainly one of the axioms of the art of war to know what the columns are going to do, and where they are.

Question. Could not the railroad have been broken so as to prevent Johnston from coming down?

Answer. I suppose that Hunter’s column intended to push forward and disable that railroad, but he found work enough to do before he could undertake that. And in the heat of the day, after marching some fifteen miles, and being called upon to fight, they could not very easily have torn up a bridge.

JCCW – Maj. William F. Barry

10 07 2009

Testimony of Maj. William F. Barry

Report on the Conduct of the War, Vol. 2, pp. 142-149

WASHINGTON, January 7, 1862.

General WILLIAM F. BARRY sworn and examined.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. Were you at the battle of Bull Run, as it is called?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. In what capacity?

Answer. As chief of artillery.

Question. Can you state to us what led to the rout of our army on the field that day?

Answer. There were a great many causes.

Question. We want to get at the causes, the most obvious causes?

Answer. I think the principal cause was the uninstructed state of our troops. The troops were raw; many of the officers were indolent, and they did not all behave themselves as they should have done on that day. I think that was one cause. All troops are liable to panics. But the great fault I found with our men was that after they had fallen back some distance, and were out of the enemy’s fire, they could not be rallied. I look upon that as a difficulty inseparable from green troops. And in rallying men we need the assistance of the regimental and company officers very much, and that assistance was not rendered in many cases.

Question. Can you tell us at what time of the day and at what point the panic first showed itself?

Answer. On the right of our line was the place that I thought the panic first took place.

Question. In whose division?

Answer. The troops were very much scattered. They had been moved from point to point. They had been successful on the left of us, and the enemy had been driven back pretty nearly a mile, and having nothing to do, several of the regiments had been brought up towards the right. I had been with the army but three days. I had just arrived from Fort Pickens with my battery of artillery, and found that I was promoted to be a major. I gave up my battery to my successor, and General McDowell appointed me chief of artillery. I joined them the second day of the march, and was not very familiar with the organization of the troops.

Question. Were you present near the place where Ricketts’s and Griffin’s batteries were when they were captured?

Answer. Yes, sir; I was there at that very spot.

Question. What led to the capture of those batteries by the enemy?

Answer. The infantry support abandoned them, and that enabled the enemy to advance and capture the guns, or a portion of them; they did not capture them all. Nearly all the horses were shot down, and it was nearly impossible for the moment to remove the guns.

Question. Were those batteries ordered forward immediately preceding their capture?

Answer. Yes, sir; I suppose a half an hour before.

Question. Did you convey the order?

Answer. I gave the order in person to Captain Perkins and Captain Griffin; and not only that, I superintended the movement.

Question. Were those batteries supported?

Answer. Yes, sir; two entire regiments were procured at my request; the 11th New York, commonly called the Fire Zouaves, and the 14th New York militia.

Question. This was about three o’clock, was it?

Answer. I did not look at my watch during the entire day. I should suppose it was about half past two o’clock, for I think we left the field about four o’clock.

Question. In what condition were the Fire Zouaves at that time?

Answer. In what order, do you mean?

Question. Were they then an efficient regiment?

Answer. I thought so. I knew very little of them, except by newspaper reports. I knew what New York firemen were, and I supposed there was fight and pluck in them. I was struck with the manner they marched forward, very handsomely in line of battle. I rode with the major of the regiment—now colonel of the regiment. They marched up very handsomely in line of battle, passed the various obstacles they met in the usual tactical manner. I thought they did very well, and was very much disappointed and surprised when they broke.

Question. How many men should you think there were in the regiment at that time?

Answer. It looked to me as though there were about seven hundred.

Question. They supported which battery?

Answer. Both. The two regiments went up together, one just after the other. They had to go down a declivity, cross a little stream, and then go up a sharp acclivity. The ground was a little heavy in one or two places, and the artillery moved up in column of pieces, and formed the battery after they got on the ground.

Question. Did they take position on the hill indicated for them?

Answer. Yes, sir; and commenced firing, and fired some time.

Question. Was there any objection made by the officers of those batteries to advancing when the order was given to them?

Answer. Not the slightest that I heard.

Question. Was there any complaint that they were not properly supported?

Answer. I never heard of such a thing.

Question. How many guns were there in Griffin’s battery?

Answer. Six guns in Griffin’s battery, and six in Ricketts’s battery.

Question. Twelve guns in all?

Answer. Yes, sir. However, I am under an impression that just at that moment one, if not two, of Griffin’s guns had been left behind. I think one of his guns had become choked by careless loading; the cartridge bag had become twisted, and it could not be got in or out. That gun, I think, was not brought forward; but I am not certain about that. I did not count the guns.

Question. How many infantry would be a proper support for the guns of those two batteries?

Answer. Two regiments, I suppose, would be amply sufficient. I think if those two regiments had stood firm and done their duty those guns would never have been captured.

Question. Is there not a rule, or an understanding. as to the number of infantry that should support a battery?

Answer. No, sir; that depends upon circumstances very much; upon the amount of force opposed. If they are opposed by a large force you must have a corresponding force. And in addition to these two regiments of infantry there was a squadron of cavalry sent up by General McDowell afterwards, but moving faster than the infantry they arrived almost at the same time.

Question. Were the enemy in position in front of those batteries?

Answer. We could not see them.

Question. When were they first seen?

Answer. After the firing commenced.

Question. How soon after the order to advance was given?

Answer. I should suppose twenty minutes or half an hour. It must have taken nearly fifteen minutes to get to the place, because after I had designated the place that had been designated to me by General McDowell, and had started the batteries there, I then went to this infantry support and moved up with it. While I was doing that both of the batteries mistook the place, came a little short of it. I went forward and corrected that mistake, which produced some little delay. So I suppose the batteries were fully fifteen minutes in getting in position where they finally opened fire, which was the position I first designated.

Question. When did you see the enemy first in front of these batteries?

Answer. I suppose it was fifteen or twenty minutes after the firing commenced. It is hard to mark the lapse of time under such circumstances. I had very much to do then, passing from one battery to another, and looking to the infantry regiments coming up.

Question. Was there any mistake as to the character of a regiment that appeared in front of these batteries?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. What was that mistake?

Answer. It was a mistake in reference to a regiment that came out of a piece of woods into which one of the infantry regiments that supported the batteries had gone a few minutes before—this fourteenth regiment from Brooklyn.

Question. What was that mistake?

Answer. This regiment came out in line of battle, and a few minutes after they came out they delivered their fire upon us.

Question. Was it supposed by any one that that was one of our regiments?

Answer. I supposed it was. They had no colors. I supposed it was this same regiment that had gone into the woods, as they disappeared in that direction. Whether they went into the woods or not I do not know. The ground was somewhat rolling, and they would disappear from sight for a few moments.

Question: Did Captain Griffin suppose it was one of the regiments supporting him?

Answer. I do not know what he supposed. He directed my attention to it.

Question. Did he propose to open fire on that regiment?

Answer. Not that I remember. If he had chosen to do it, he was competent to do it.

Question. Did you give him orders?

Answer. No, sir; I gave no orders to either captain. They were both competent men.

Question. You say you have no knowledge that he did not receive orders not to fire upon that regiment?

Answer. No, sir; I gave no orders not to fire.

Question. That regiment opened fire directly upon these batteries?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. They captured these batteries?

Answer. No, sir; after they had produced a great deal of havoc, the troops immediately in front advanced—not that regiment which was on one side. There was nothing left for it then, for the infantry support broke in confusion and scattered in all directions.

Question. Was not this the first indication of a panic manifested?

Answer. No, sir; because I had seen regiments in the first part of the day break and fall back, and we were afterwards very handsomely successful.

Question. Do you not consider that the capture of these two batteries had a very decided influence on the fate of the battle on that day?

Answer. I think it had an influence, but I do not know whether it was a very decided influence. I think the circumstance that had the most decided influence was the arrival of those fresh troops on our right flank, after the men had become wearied. Our men had had a long march; been moving back and forth, and became very tired.

Question. Were not those fresh troops those that appeared in front of these batteries?

Answer. No, sir; I think not, because after that there were troops that came up on our right flank, almost at right angles, and those were the troops that I always took to be the fresh ones. Those that advanced on the guns when they were no longer supported, I have always supposed were the enemy’s left that we had driven back.

Question. You do not suppose those troops that took the batteries were Johnston’s men that had just come?

Answer. No, sir; I do not think they were. I am sure they were not. I think they were the enemy’s right, which we had driven back two or three times. I saw very plainly their batteries limber up and go off to the rear and take up a new position. I saw that twice. Finally they went back so far that Captain Ricketts and Captain Griffin could see nothing of the men to fire at. You could not see the horses even; only a puff of smoke.

Question. When was this?

Answer. Before the two batteries moved forward.

Question. I mean after the two batteries moved forward. Did not some regiments appear in front of and capture these batteries within ten or fifteen minutes after they opened fire at this last position?

Answer. No, sir. The infantry support broke and abandoned the batteries. Then they of course felt emboldened to advance, because there was no opposition to them. There were a great many men killed and wounded, and a large number of horses knocked over by that single discharge of that one regiment, which was to our front and right—not really in front. It came out of this piece of woods. There was a very tall Virginia fence, eight or nine rails high, and I could just see the tops of their bayonets—not the clothes of the men, at all, but perhaps ten inches of their bayonets. They had no colors.

Question. What did you suppose that regiment to be?

Answer. I supposed it to be one of our regiments. But if I had known it to be one of their regiments, it would have been no time to do anything before they delivered their fire; that is, after I saw them. It was almost instantaneous after I saw them. I did not see them until my attention was directed to them by Captain Griffin, who said, “See there!” or “Look there!” I was then looking at the direction the guns were firing, and I could see nothing in front, even then. I had been with Captain Ricketts’s battery, and just as I came to Captain Griffin’s battery he called my attention to this regiment. It was all the work of a moment. There was a high, tall fence, and looking at it obliquely, as we did, it made a very close fence to us where we were. If we had been looking at it in front, we could have seen more plainly. But I could see nothing except this line of bayonets, and they delivered their fire almost instantaneously after I first saw them.

Question. Was their fire delivered from behind the fence?

Answer. Yes, sir; right through the fence. It made but a small obstacle to them, because they were close to the fence and the rails were of the usual width apart in that kind of fence, so that they could very readily see through it and fire through it. But even if we had known they were the enemy there would have been no time to have turned the guns upon them before their fire was delivered. If the infantry support had stood, the force in front of us would not have advanced.

Question. Did you consider the batteries were properly supported at that time?

Answer. I did. I think two entire regiments were ample support, and this squadron of cavalry was with them.

Question. How many cavalry?

Answer. Two troops of cavalry. They were commanded by Captain Colburn, who is now a lieutenant colonel upon General McClellan’s staff. There were two troops of cavalry, commonly called a squadron, perhaps 100 men.

By Mr. Odell:

Question. Did the cavalry stand?

Answer. Yes, sir; until General McDowell ordered them to fall back, for after the enemy advanced they were only too much exposed, as there was no opportunity for them to charge there. The enemy made a sort of charge down the road—30 or 40 men of them. The troops were very much exhausted, the fire zouaves called it the “black horse cavalry,” and spoke of the wonders they performed. But there were no black horses there or black uniformed men. They were ordinary bay and sorrel horses with single-rein snaffle-bits. I examined them very closely, because I had lost my pistol and wanted to get one of theirs, and I examined three or four very closely for that purpose. The fire zouaves fired upon them as they passed, for the cavalry could not be held, but ran by almost pell-mell.

Question. We never recovered the possession of Griffins’s battery, as I understand?

Answer. Yes, sir; the guns were retaken twice. The official report states that fully. They were taken the first time and the men tried to drag them off. But they were encumbered with dead horses, and there were no other horses to hitch to them. After dragging them some distance the enemy advanced in large force and drove us back. Then some other troops with those of the infantry support which could be rallied again came back once more, but there was a large force advancing, and they had nothing left but to fall back. The infantry fire had pretty much ceased towards the left. There were several regiments in the road and resting upon their arms, and they were ordered up. If those two regiments had held on a little while we would have had a strong force. It was impossible to rally the 11th regiment—the fire zouaves. I rode in among them and implored them to stand. I told them that the guns would never be captured if they would only stand. But they seemed to be paralyzed, standing with their eyes and mouths wide open, and did not seem to hear me. I then reminded them of all the oaths they had sworn at Alexandria, after the death of Ellsworth, and that that was the best chance they would ever have for vengeance. But they paid no attention to what I said at all.

Question. I suppose the mere fact that a panic had spread among the troops once should not create a distrust of those troops again?

Answer. O no, sir. General McDowell and myself took regimental flags which we saw and begged the troops to rally around them; and a few did, but not a sufficient number to warrant the hopes that we would have had with good troops.

Question. How many did you estimate the force in front, and this regiment on the right, together?

Answer. I could not tell. They covered themselves very well. That was a remarkable feature in that battle: they kept themselves remarkably well covered.

Question. The ground permitted them to do that?

Answer. Yes, sir; the ground they advanced over was not so level as that our troops went over. Our troops marched very handsomely in line of battle. One instance, I saw a whole brigade advance as handsomely as ever any troops did.

Question. So far as the whole fight was concerned, the enemy had infinitely the advantage of our troops in position?

Answer. Yes, sir; the ground was their own selection. I think if the battle had been fought at the hour it was expected to be fought at, 8 1/4 or 8 1/2 o’clock in the morning, we would have won it. There was a loss of three hours there, which I think had a very important effect upon the success of the day. It enabled those fresh troops to get up: it prevented our turning their flank so completely as we would have done by surprise; for when our columns halted, the enemy discovered the direction we were going to take, and prepared for it. And worse than that, the halting, the standing still, fatigued the men as much if not more than by marching that time.

Question. So that our men were really very much exhausted when they went into the field?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. But if the battle had been fought three or four hours earlier, then Johnston’s reserve would not have been up in time?

Answer. I think the fate of that day would have been decided before they got upon the ground. I look upon that delay as the most unfortunate thing that happened. The troops that ought to have been out of the way were in the way before we could get to the turning-off point of the road.

Question. You were to have marched at 6 o’clock on Saturday night under the first order?

Answer. No, sir; the only order I heard was to move at half-past 2 o’clock in the morning.

Question. Was not the first order to advance our troops on Saturday night at 6 o’clock, or a portion of them?

Answer. Not that I ever heard of.

Question. Was it not proposed—I do not know that the order was issued— that the troops should march at 6 o’clock on Saturday night?

Answer. Never that I heard of.

Question. Was not there some delay on account of rations—of provisions?

Answer. I never heard of any.

Question. I will ask you, as you were in General McDowell’s staff, whether the battle was not fought a day or two later than was first proposed?

Answer. I think not. The intervening time, from our arrival at Centreville and the time of advancing, was occupied by the engineers in observation. The affair of the 18th showed that the enemy was in great force at that position. I presume General McDowell’s next idea was to discover some place to cross Bull Run without this opposition and turn their flank. I know the time was taken up by reconnoitring by a party of engineers, and a great deal of it was occupied at night to escape the observation of the enemy.

Question. I think it has been stated that there was a delay of one or two days for want of provisions?

Answer. I do not know about that. I joined General McDowell only a day or two before. I arrived here at 8 o’clock in the evening, and had to take my battery down to the arsenal, fill up with ammunition, get fresh horses, &c. General McDowell had marched the day before, and I made two marches in one and overtook him at Fairfax Court-House, and the next day he had me relieved because I was promoted, and assigned me to a position on his staff. So that what his views and intentions were previously to that I do not know. Half past two in the morning was the hour appointed. When he had the assembly of all his division commanders, and explained to them the movements and everything, he was very particular in giving directions about General Tyler’s division being out of the way, as his division was the first to take the road, so as not to stop up the road for the others.

By Mr. Odell:

Question. You spoke of the delay of two or three hours being in your judgment a very serious one upon the success of the day?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. What was the occasion of that delay?

Answer. I always heard that it was occasioned by General Tyler not getting his division out of the way of the troops that were to follow. He was to lead, and was to march down the road past the point where they were to turn off to go up to the place with the other divisions, and his division did not get past in time to prevent that delay.

Question. Were not the other divisions waiting for him to pass?

Answer. I always heard so; always supposed so. We had to take one common road at first, and after crossing the little stream called Cub Run, where so much baggage and guns were lost on the retreat by the bridge being broken down, after crossing the little run a short distance we came to this turning off point.

Question. Have you any knowledge of the occasion of his delay?

Answer. I have not. There was some little firing ahead; was firing slowly at long intervals. I went down to where he had a large Parrott gun in the middle of the road in position. I asked the officer what he was firing at. He said they saw some small parties of men. I told him not to waste the ammunition of a heavy gun like that in firing at little parties of men.

By Mr. Odell:

Question. Was there the same difficulty in rallying the 14th New York regiment as in rallying the 11th regiment?

Answer. No, sir. But they were under the disadvantage of having lost their colonel. But they were rallied to some extent afterwards by General Heintzelman.

JCCW – Gen. Robert Patterson Part III

6 07 2009

Testimony of Gen. Robert Patterson

Report on the Conduct of the War, Vol. 2, pp. 98-114

WASHINGTON, January 8, 1862.

General R. PATTERSON resumed as follows:

In my testimony before the committee as regards the expiration of the terms of service of the volunteers, I omitted to state that an order or circular from the War Department, dated somewhere about the 12th or 13th of July, directed that the regiments should be sent to the places of muster in their respective States in time to reach there on the day their terms of service expired. A strict obedience to this order would have reduced my command to a very small number on the 18th of July. I also omitted to state that, although the general-in-chief had on the 17th of July informed me that “the Junction will probably be carried to-morrow,” he had neglected to inform me that it was not carried on the 18th, or on the 19th, or on the 20th. It was certainly due to me, and to the great interests at stake, that if the general did not do what he said he would do I should have been informed of it. If on the evening or night of the 17th, or on the morning of the 18th, he found he could not make an assault on the Junction, why did he not telegraph me of the fact, and direct me to make an attack or a demonstration? I was all ready; my men had three days’ rations in their haversacks, and I had that morning, at half-past one, put the question to him direct—”Shall I attack?” I could have made a demonstration on Winchester just as easy from Charlestown as from Bunker Hill, and I could have made an attack much easier from Charlestown than from Bunker Hill, as the road from Bunker Hill was blocked and barricaded, and the road from Charles- town was not, and with the great additional advantage of being so much nearer my base and depots. I do not charge the neglect or inattention to which I have referred as intentional, but to physical inability to perform the immense labor of his official station in the present state of the country. I desire to speak of the general-in-chief as I feel, with all kindness, courtesy, and respect, and with all honor for his loyalty and great services.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. Can you designate each of the regiments of your command, and the time when their terms of service expired?

Answer. I hand in a report from Brevet Major General Cadwalader, giving in detail the names and numbers of the regiments belonging to his division, and the time at which their terms of service expired.—(App. No. 39.) I have made out, with the aid of General Cadwalader’s report, and from memory, a memorandum of all the regiments composing my column, and the time fixed or supposed as near as I could approximate to the expiration of their terms of service:

1st regiment Pennsylvania volunteers, Colonel Yohl, July 18 ; 2d regiment Pennsylvania volunteers, Colonel Menier, July 19 or 20; 3d regiment Pennsylvania volunteers,- Colonel Stambaugh, July 19 or 20; 6th regiment Pennsylvania volunteers, Colonel Negley, July 22; 7th regiment Pennsylvania volunteers, Colonel Irwin, July 22; 8th regiment Pennsylvania volunteers, Colonel Emlee, July 22; 9th regiment Pennsylvania volunteers, Colonel Longnecker, July 22, 23 and 24; 10th regiment Pennsylvania volunteers, Colonel Meridith, July 25; 13th regiment Pennsylvania volunteers, Colonel Rowley, July 23; 14th regiment Pennsylvania volunteers, Colonel Johnston, supposed July 23; 15th regiment Pennsylvania volunteers, Colonel Oakford, supposed July 23; 16th regiment Pennsylvania volunteers, July 20, 21, 25, 26, 27 and 30; 17th regiment Pennsylvania volunteers, Colonel Patterson, supposed July 21; 20th regiment Pennsylvania volunteers, Colonel Grey, July 30; 21st regiment Pennsylvania volunteers, Colonel Ballier, July 29; 23d regiment Pennsylvania volunteers, Colonel Dare, July 21; 24th regiment Pennsylvania volunteers, Colonel Owen, supposed July 30; one-half (five companies,) 25th regiment Pennsylvania volunteers, July 18; Wisconsin regiment, Colonel Starkweath, early in August; Indiana regiment, Colonel Wallace, about July 20; Massachusetts regiment, Colonel Gordon, three year’s men; 1 New Hampshire; 1 New York, under Colonel Stone, last of July; 4 New York, under General Sanford, last of July and early in August; 2d and 3d regiments left at Martinsburg.

Pennsylvania regiments, seventeen and one-half; New York and other regiments, nine; making a total of twenty-six and one-half regiments, averaging, present and fit for service, six hundred and fifty men, equal to seventeen thousand two hundred and twenty-five; to which add cavalry, artillery, and one company of rangers, in all one thousand, making a total of eighteen thousand two hundred and twenty-five. .

Question. When you fix the time at which their term of service expires, do you reckon from the time when they were mustered into the service of the United States?

Answer. Yes, sir; not from the time when they were enrolled, but from the day they were mustered into service, that being the decision of the War Department, and so communicated to me by the general-in-chief.

Question. And the term of service, as you have stated it, is fixed on that basis?

Answer. Yes, sir. Most of those regiments, however, were enrolled and on duty a week or ten days before. My son’s was the first that turned out, on the 16th, by my own order.

Question. I suppose you found out, from the movements of your army, that it is impossible to say, a week or ten days beforehand, that you will be at a given point on a certain day.

Answer. Yes, sir; I could not tell a week beforehand where I would be.

Question. Is not that a difficulty which is incident to the moving of all large bodies of men?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. It is impossible for a commander to tell, even a week beforehand, what he will be doing, or where he will be a week hence?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. You moved from Martinsburg to Bunker Hill on the 15th July?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. And remained at Bunker Hill over the 16th?

Answer. A part of my army did. A large force was sent forward to reconnoitre and drive in the pickets of Johnston’s army.

Question. On the morning of the 17th you moved to Charlestown?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. When you were at Bunker Hill how near were you to Winchester?

Answer. About 12 miles.

Question. How near at Charlestown were you to Winchester?

Answer. From 15 to 17 miles, I think.

Question. Is it not further than that?

Answer. I think not.

Question. We have had it stated at 22 miles.

Answer. I cannot answer certainly, because I do not know. That is a matter that General Newton could answer better than I can.

Question. We have had the distance given as 22 miles. You say you are uncertain as to the distance?

Answer. I am uncertain as to the distance.

Question. Did you know the force of General Johnston when you moved from Martinsburg?

Answer. Our estimate then was that it was over 30,000 men.

Question. When you moved from Martinsburg?

Answer. Yes, sir; we took several prisoners, and got additional information at Bunker Hill, making his force from 35,000 to 40,000. In my statement to General Scott on the 6th of July I reported that he had 25,000 men.

Question. As you moved from Martinsburg to Bunker Hill I think you stated that General Sanford was in command of one division, and moved down on the road to the left, and the other divisions of your army moved to the right of him?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Did you propose, on Tuesday the 16th, to advance towards Winchester from Bunker Hill?

Answer. No, sir.

Question. You made a reconnoissance that day?

Answer. Yes, sir; I made a reconnoissance in force to see the condition of the country, &c. The object was to learn the enemy’s strength and his preparations, so as to know whether we ought or ought not to go forward.

Question. What did you learn from that reconnoissance?

Answer. The report was decided against a forward movement.

Question. I did not ask what the report was, but what the facts were.

Answer. We learned that the roads were barricaded, fences were built across it, trees cut down; and all manner of impediments thrown in the way; that in front of the town of Winchester everything was levelled, fences and everything, trees cut down, and in some cases houses pulled down, so that their guns should have a clear and complete sweep; and that there were fortifications extending two miles and a half, with heavy guns.

Question. Then you issued no orders for an advance from Bunker Hill towards Winchester?

Answer. I.did, but countermanded it.

Question. At what time was that order countermanded?

Answer. On the return of the reconnoissance, or some time afterwards— some time in the afternoon or evening. My own desire was to go ahead, but I was opposed by all around me.

Question. General Sanford was in command of a division?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. You say that you yielded to the opinions of others. Was General Sanford’s opinion taken in relation to that?

Answer. No, sir; General Sanford’s opinion was not taken at any time. General Sanford joined—I forget now the exact time—perhaps the 10th, or may be the 11th of July, at Martinsburg. There was no council held at Bunker Hill. General Sanford was not in time to join the council of the 9th, and there was no council held after that. The opinions taken by me at Bunker Hill were the opinions of the gentlemen of my own staff, and the old officers of the regular army, who had great experience—those with whom I had been in the habit of counselling from the time I had taken command. There was no council; but any person of the class referred to who came into headquarters was consulted. But no council was held there on that day.

Question. Why did you move from Bunker Hill to Charlestown, instead of remaining at Bunker Hill?

Answer. Because there I was in a most dangerous position. I should have considered it an act of utter insanity to have remained there with so long a line behind me, my force not nearly half the number, not more than one third the number of the enemy. I was under constant expectation of an attack, and being cut off from my base; and I had the warning of the general-in-chief, dated the 11th of July, that that would be done. And also because all my officers told me that Johnston was luring me on, and that I would be caught. The desire of my officers was that I should move direct from Martinsburg to Charlestown. My objection to that movement was this: that I was passing a long distance directly across the enemy’s front, and he could have sent out parties to kill all my teamsters, cut up my wagon guards, shoot the animals and make a regular stampede, and I could not by any possibility get into a position to fight him. Going to Bunker Hill, I was to a certain extent going towards Winchester, and as soon as I got to Smithfield I then diverged to the left. We there expected to be attacked, and I had arranged my command with the left in front, to be ready for an attack, should it be made while on our march. Everybody expected that we should be assailed there. All my wagons were in the front, out of the way. I could not have left Martinsburg and marched half the way without the enemy knowing it. But I could leave Bunker Hill and march to Charlestown, because they would not know where we were going.

Question. If it had been the intention of Johnston to attack you were you not more exposed to his attack in your movement from Bunker Hill to Charlestown than to remain at Bunker Hill?

Answer. If I remained at Bunker Hill I was just as liable to be attacked as on the road to Charlestown, and just as liable to be attacked on the road as there. But I could not remain at Bunker Hill forever. My remaining there was very perilous. To return to Martinsburg was not very soldier-like; and I was ordered to go to Charlestown, and I obeyed my orders.

Question. Then, do you say you went to Charlestown because you were ordered to go there?

Answer. Yes, sir; and because I considered it judicious to go there, and was advised to do so by my council. And I went there because I was ordered there, whether right or wrong.

Question. During all this time you considered it your especial business to take care of Johnston, did you not?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. That was the object and purpose of your army?

Answer. My especial object—yes, sir.

Question. And you were to take care of him until after the attack bad been made by McDowell upon Manassas, and keep him so occupied as to prevent his being present to take part there in the battle, if you could possibly do so?

Answer. Yes, sir; if I could.

Question. On the 9th of July you made a communication to General Scott, in which you stated to him your plans of operations for the future?

Answer. Yes; sir.

Question. And under that head you wrote as follows:

“Under these circumstances, I respectfully present to the general-in-chief the following plan, which, with my present views, I desire to carry into operation so soon as I can do so with safety, and the necessity for following Johnston ceases. I propose to move this force to Charlestown, from which point I can more easily strike Winchester; march to Leesburg; when necessary, open communication to a depot to be established at Harper’s Ferry, and occupy the main avenue of supply to the enemy. My base will then be some seven miles nearer, more easily reached by road, and my line of communication rendered more secure than at present. I can establish communication with the Maryland shore by a bridge of boats. In this way I can more easily approach you; and the movement I think will tend to releive Leesburg and vicinity of some of its oppressors. My present location is a very bad one in a military point of view, and from it I cannot move a portion of the force without exposing that of what remains to be cut off.”

Then, in the last part of that communication, you say:

“When you make your attack I expect to advance and offer battle. If the enemy retires, shall not pursue. I am very desirous to know when the general-in-chief wishes me to approach Winchester. If the notice does not come in any other way, I wish you would indicate the day by telegraph, thus: ‘Let me hear from you on——-‘”

In reply to that you received the following telegraph:

“Go where you propose in your letter of the 9th instant. Should that movement cause the enemy to retreat upon Manassas via Strasburg, to follow him at this distance would seem hazardous; whereas the route from Charlestown via Keyes’s Ferry, Hillsboro’, and Leesburg, towards Alexandria, with the use of the canal on the other side of the river for heavy transportation, may be practicable. Consider this suggestion well; and except in an extreme case do not recross the Potomac with more than a sufficient detachment for your supplies on the canal. Let me hear of you on Tuesday. Write often when en route.”

That was a telegraphic despatch which you received in reply to your communication of the 9th?

Answer. Yes, sir; and your reading of that has reminded me of the strongest reason for not remaining at Bunker Hill. We had but supplies for two days, and could not remain there.

Question. Then you received on the next day this telegraphic despatch? “I telegraphed you yesterday if not strong enough to meet the enemy early next week, make demonstrations so as to detain him in the valley of Winchester. But if he retreats in force towards Manassas, and it be hazardous to follow him, then consider the route via Keyes’s Ferry, Leesburg,” &c. Now, did you not understand from these communications from General Scott that you were either to detain Johnston in the valley of Winchester until after you had heard of the result of the attack on Manassas, or, in case of his retreating, to follow him directly, or come down by the other route which General Scott had indicated, via Keyes’s Ferry, Leesburg, &c., so as to be present and participate in the action at Manassas?

Answer. Unquestionably, if I could detain him. I was undoubtedly to detain him if I could, but I was not to follow him down there, or to move on the other route, unless circumstances required it. In my letter of the 20th or 21st I stated ——-

Question. I would rather you would confine your answer to this question.

Answer. Unquestionably I was to detain him and to remain there as long as he remained there. Will you repeat the question?

Question. [The question was repeated.]

Answer. Yes, sir. The reason I did not follow him is stated in my letter of July 21st to the general-in-chief. On the 20th I telegraphed thus : “With a portion of his force, Johnston left Winchester by the road to Millwood on the afternoon of the 18th, his whole force about 35,200.” I believed then, and so did the officers of my command, that it was very likely that Johnston had information, and we had not, of the battle of Manassas, and that he had gone down on the right bank of the Shenandoh to cut me off; and on the night of the 20th, at midnight, I had ordered General Cadwalader to send a strong brigade down to Keyes’s Ferry, and hold it, as I expected Johnston to attempt to come in my rear. On the 21st I reported to General Scott thus: “I came here (Harper’s Ferry) to-day. Yesterday Winchester and this country was abandoned by all armed parties. Johnston left for Millwood to operate on McDowell’s right, and to turn through Loudon upon me. I could not follow.” I had no men to follow on the 20th or the 21st. I had made every effort on the 18th, but the men would not stay.

Question. You were still apprehending an attack from Johnston on the 20th.

Answer. I was expecting an attack from Johnston any hour from the 18th until I went into Harper’s Ferry.

Question. When did you first know that Johnston had left?

Answer. On the 20th, and the instant I received that information I sent a telegram announcing the fact to the general-in-chief, with orders to go with all speed, and that despatch was received in this city that night.

Question. Did you not know that your position at Charlestown offered no obstacle to General Johnston joining the forces of Beauregard at Manassas?

Answer. It offered no more obstacles than at any other point, except that I was nearer to him than at Martinsburg. I could not stay at Bunker Hill, for I had no supplies.

Question. You were not threatening Johnston at Charlestown so as to prevent him joining Beauregard at Manassas?

Answer. No, sir; I remained there because I was ordered to remain in front of him until he left.

Question. You knew at that time that you were not offering any obstacle to his going down to Manassas?

Answer. Perfectly. I knew I had not the means to do it.

Question. Why did you not communicate that fact to General Scott immediately ?

Answer. I did communicate my condition and where I was.

Question. When?

Answer. On the 16th. I wrote him in detail from Bunker Hill; on the 17th I wrote again; and on the 18th I gave him all the information necessary. And it was his business to order me, not my business to make any further suggestions to him.

Question. Did you communicate to him by telegraph?

Answer. Certainly. I sent three telegrams to him on the same day.

Question. On what day?

Answer. On the 18th. At half-past one in the morning I telegraphed him my condition, and asked him if I should attack. To have sent further information to him would have been rather impertinent, and he would have so considered it.

Question. On the 17th he telegraphs you thus: “I have nothing official from you since Sunday, but am glad to learn through Philadelphia papers that you have advanced. Do not let the enemy amuse and delay you with a small force in front, whilst he re-enforce the Junction with his main body.”

Answer. Yes, sir, I received that.

Question. And on the 18th you telegraphed to General Scott: “Telegram of date received. Mine of to-night gives the condition of my command. Some regiments have given warning not to serve an hour over time. To attack under such circumstances against the generally superior force at Winchester is most hazardous. My letter of the 16th gives you further information. Shall I attack?” Did you send him any other telegram on the 18th?

Answer. Certainly; two others.

Question. I find this one on the 18th: “Telegram of to-day received. The enemy has stolen no march upon me. I have kept him actively employed, and by threats and reconnoissance in force caused him to be re-enforced. I have accomplished in this respect more than the general-in-chief asked, or could well be expected in face of an enemy far superior in numbers, with no line of communication to protect.”

Answer. I beg to state that in that telegram of the 17th is one of those things that I take exception to as bad treatment. I had written to the general-in-chief, as I stated in my examination in chief, every day; and yet I am told that he has nothing official from me since Sunday—no information except through the papers. Now, I telegraphed him on the 12th, on the 13th, and on the 14th. I did not telegraph him on the 15th, because I was marching that day. But I telegraphed him three times afterwards, and wrote him on the 18th.

Question. In your telegraph of the 18th you told him distinctly that the enemy had stolen no march upon you, that you had kept him actively employed, and by threats and reconnoissance in force caused him to be re-enforced.

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. And you intended that General Scott should understand at that time that Johnston had not made any movement towards Manassas?

Answer. Yes, sir; and he had not at that time.

Question. On what day did he leave?

Answer. He left on that day, but had not left then. But I did not know it for two days afterwards.

Question. My question is, why did you not inform General Scott that yon were then not in a condition to offer any obstacle to Johnston’s joining Beauregard?

Answer. I should have considered it rather a reflection on him to have told him so. He knew my condition.

Question. You told him in your telegraph that you had kept Johnston actively employed. .

Answer. And I had.

Question. But you did not give the general any information that you were not then doing it, or that you were not still able to do it?

Answer. I had all along been remaining there according to his orders, but in no condition to do it. I was perilling my army, but was willing to do it, because it was my orders. If he had ordered me to go anywhere, I should have gone. He knew my force, my condition, and my aide-de-camp was also sent down to inform him. He knew my condition perfectly well. He could order me.

Question. On the 18th he telegraphs you thus:

“I have certainly been expecting you to beat the enemy; if not, to hear that you had felt him strongly, or, at least, occupied him by threats and demonstrations. You have been at least, his equal, and, I suppose, superior in number. Has he not stolen a march and sent re-enforcements towards Manassas Junction? A week is enough to win a victory. The time of volunteers counts from the day mustered into the service of the United States. You must not retreat across the Potomac. If necessary, when abandoned by the short term volunteers, intrench somewhere and wait for re-enforcements.”

That was on the 18th of July?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. During all this time you knew that General Scott expected of you that you should either engage and beat Johnston, or detain him in the valley of Winchester; or, in the event that he should come down by a route where you could not follow him, that you should follow down via Keyes’s Ferry and Leesburg ?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. And yet when you were at Charlestown you found yourself not in a condition to do either ; now my question is, why did you not communicate that fact to General Scott?

Answer. There was no occasion for it, in my judgment. He knew my condition, and to have added to the information he already had would have been a waste of time and paper. I had informed him of my condition, and it was his business to order me what to do. I had asked him, “Shall I attack ?” It was not my business to say anything beyond that Johnston was there.

Question. But you say yourself that you were not in a condition to attack at that time?

Answer. In saying that, I did not mean that the men I had were not in a condition to fight, but that I had not force enough to fight. My men, I believe, were in about as good a condition, if not better, than any other column in the field. They had been drilled from eight to ten hours a day, and I have no doubt a good portion of them would have cheerfully gone up with me. I was in as good a condition then to fight as I would be at any time after that; and if I had got the order, I would have gone up with all who would have gone with me. I do not mean to say that my men would not fight, or that they would not have obeyed an order to attack, but that I was not numerically strong enough to hold him anywhere, or to justify an attack, unless it was indispensable to save some other army, or to carry out a part of some great scheme. If General Scott had wanted me to sacrifice 1,000, or 5,000, or 10,000, or the whole, for the purpose of settling the question as to Johnston going down to Manassas, and had he given me the order I had asked, I should have done it.

Question. General Scott wanted you to do one of three things: either to attack Johnston and beat him, or to detain him, or, if he left, to follow him?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. You have just said that if it were necessary, in order to save or protect any other division of the army, or to secure any great object, you would have felt it your duty to have run some hazard or make an attack. Now did you not know that such was the fact, that General McDowell was just about to make an attack upon Manassas, and that it was of the first importance that Johnston should not be allowed to join Beauregard?

Answer. On what day?

Question. About this time.

Answer. I did suppose that on the 18th he had done it.

Question. Did you suppose it was an absolute certainty that the attack was made on the 18th?

Answer. With the preparations that were going on, I had no more doubt of it than I had of my own existence.

Question. Did you not, as a military man, know that it was impossible to fix beforehand, even for a week, when a battle should come off; that it depends as much upon one side as upon the other, especially where large bodies of men are to be moved?

Answer. I know that it is very uncertain. But I know that if you are moved up within fighting distance, you certainly ought to fight within a day of the time you say; and if you do not it is the duty of the man who does not fight to inform the other. I know it is uncertain; but I never saw anything yet to keep men from Tuesday until Sunday.

Question. On the 17th you had a telegraph showing that the fight had not taken place that day?

Answer. The despatch of the 17th showed that he had begun the day he fixed. He said the first day’s work was done.

Question. That day was Wednesday?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Then in case the attack bad been begun there was no certainty that it would be finally concluded on the day of the attack?

Answer. No, sir.

Question. The battle might last one day, or two days, or three days, and Johnston was in a position to join Beauregard in a very short time?

Answer. No, sir, he could not do it in a very short time; not under three days, and I knew the general could reach me by telegraph in an hour or an hour and a half. There was no answer to any of my three despatches, or to my letter of the 18th.

Question. Do you deem that you, as a military man, had the right to assume, with the knowledge you had that it was merely proposed to fight the battle of Manassas on a certain day—do you deem that you had the right to assume that the battle had been fought and concluded on that day, and therefore leave Johnston at liberty to move forward on Manassas?

Answer. I assumed as a military man that if the general-in-chief told me that he would fight on Tuesday, the 16th, and on the 17th had told me that he had driven the enemy beyond a certain point and would probably complete the operation on the next day—I assumed it was his duty to inform me if he had not done it; otherwise I had a right to infer that he had done it.

Question. On the 18th you got still another despatch, saying, “I have certainly expected you to beat the enemy,” still showing you that General Scott deemed it of the first importance that you should detain Johnston there; and certainly you might presume from that telegraph that the battle of Manassas had not been fought.

Answer. I at that time supposed so, certainly. And yet it would have been perfectly convenient for the general to have said so. I looked upon that telegraph, and so did every gentleman on my staff, as nothing more nor less than an exhibition of bad temper.

Question. Why did you suppose the general-in-chief was in bad temper?

Answer. I could not tell. He states that he supposes I am Johnston’s superior, after having repeatedly been informed by me that I was not equal in number to him.

Question. Did you feel justified in regarding that telegraph as an exhibition of bad temper, and paying no attention to it?

Answer. Certainly not—most assuredly not—because I would pay regard to anything, to the slightest wish that General Scott ever put out—to anything.

Question. And yet you did not do anything to prevent Johnston going to Manassas, notwithstanding that you on the 18th were notified by General Scott—or you inferred from his telegraph—that the battle of Manassas had not been fought ?

Answer. It strikes me as very singular, indeed, after my statements of my efforts to keep my troops—the whole of the 18th was occupied in making speeches—I appealed to nearly every regiment in my command—it strikes me as very singular that I could by any possibility have thought of doing anything without an order from General Scott. An order from him would have helped me.

Question. And you have stated this morning that you could have attacked on the 18th if you had been ordered to do so?

Answer. I would have done it, because I would not have gone to making speeches. Up to the 20th, late in the day, I believed Johnston still to be there; and I would at once, if the order had come, have gone and attacked, if I had taken with me but 5,000 men. I suppose I could have carried 8,000 of them; they could have detained him if the whole of them had been killed; but I would have done it.

Question. You say you could have attacked on the 18th if ordered to do so. You knew the necessity of detaining Johnston, and you must have inferred from the telegraph of
General Scott that he expected or required of you that you should do something in that direction. Why did you not do all that you could to detain him without an order?

Answer. Because I could not go up then without fighting, as I could not fall back again. I had no reason to believe that that telegraph was not written in the morning in reply to mine of that morning. There was no reason why General Scott did not fight that day; and there was no more occasion for my going up and perilling my men without an order than of doing anything entirely uncalled for—not the slightest occasion for it. I had every reason to believe Johnston was at Winchester. I knew he could not get down to Manassas under three days, for I knew that the day before I had driven him in. If General Scott did not fight, and saw the necessity for my acting, I repeat, it was his business to give the order.

Question. Did not Johnston come down in less than three days?

Answer. No, sir; he left Winchester on Thursday, and got in on Sunday afternoon.

Question. Did not a portion get in on Sunday, and another portion get there before Sunday?

Answer. No, sir. And I will state here that a gentleman showed me the Philadelphia Press of this morning, which contained a speech of General Beauregard at some dinner party, in which he stated that the first appearance of any part of Johnston’s force on the battle-field was from three to four o’clock in the afternoon of Sunday, and he at first thought it was my column, and gave up the day.

Question. Could you not on the 18th, without making an actual attack on Johnston, have made such demonstrations towards him as would probably have prevented, or tended to have prevented, his moving his force down to Mauassas?

Answer. I could have gone up; but if I had I must have gone up to fight. I could undoubtedly have made a demonstration. But while he was there, and I under the belief that the general-in-chief was fighting that day, it was uncalled for and unnecessary, and no soldier in my army would have thought of such a thing. General Scott knew where I was, and whether he was fighting or not. We waited for him to indicate what was to be done. It was not for us to do so. Having made a demonstration the day before, it would have been unpardonable for me to have thrust all my men into action without cause. I had made a demonstration on the day he had indicated that the battle would be fought. I knew that Johnston was there, and could not get down under three days, and I knew that the general ought to inform me if he did not fight. He fixed the day, and it was his business to fight on that day, or inform all the commanders of corps depending on his movements that he had not fought. If he did not fight on the 18th, or the 19th, or the 20th, it was his business to inform me every day until he did fight.

By the chairman:

Question. The all important fact was to detain Johnston until that battle was fought, let that be when it might?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Now when you ascertained that you could not detain Johnston, the very moment you came to that conclusion was it not of the utmost importance that that should be known to General Scott and to General McDowell?

Answer. I was ordered not to go beyond Harper’s Ferry, but to keep that place. If I had marched down without General Scott’s orders, I left the whole Pennsylvania border unprotected.

Question. That is not the question I put.

Answer. What is the question?

Question. Why did you not, the moment you found you could not detain Johnston, inform General Scott of that fact ?

Answer. I had informed him time and time again that I was not strong enough to hold him. I was in that condition a month before. I never was able to hold him.

Question. Why, in reply to his telegram, ordering you to detain him in the valley of Winchester—why did you not tell him that you had not the force, and could not detain him?

Answer. The impression upon the minds of all of us was that by remaining in the neighborhood of Johnston he would not leave Winchester; that although we were not strong enough to attack him, he would not abandon the valley of Winchester to us. My order was to detain him in the valley of Winchester. Consequently, as long as I staid there I carried out that order to the best of my ability.

Question. But if I have understood you, there was a time when you found that from various reasons you had not the force to detain him. The knowledge of that important fact would undoubtedly have governed the action of the army at Manassas, our army under General McDowell, and they would have made their calculations and arrangements for the battle in accordance with that important fact. Had they been informed that you were unable to keep Johnston off, they might have delayed the attack until you could follow Johnston down with what force you could?

Answer. As long as we were in the neighborhood, at one place or the other, it was impossible for Johnston to know what force was in my army. Just so long as we remained there, there was a corps that would have been exceedingly troublesome to him. We inferred—I did and so did all the gentlemen around me—that because my request to go down, time and time again, was not complied with, General Scott wanted us to stay there without reference to our strength. I had informed the general-in-chief, over and over again, that I was not able to hold Johnston there. I had sent Mr. Sherman, and my staff, one after the other, to get leave to go below.

Question. There was a time when you supposed Johnston was re-enforced?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. What time was that; just before you turned off to Charlestown?

Answer. No, sir; I think I reported on the 6th of July; I reported that Johnston had unquestionably received large re-enforcements and had then 25,000 men.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. In your telegram of the 18th you say to General Scott:

“Telegram of to-day received. The enemy has stolen no march upon me. I have kept him actively employed, and by threats and reconnoissance iii force caused him to be re-enforced. I have accomplished in this respect more than the general-in-chief asked, or could well be expected in face of an enemy far superior in numbers, with no line of communication to protect.”

Would the general-in-chief understand from that that General Johnston was then in a position where there was no obstacle in the way of his going to Manassas?

Answer. I expected him to understand that Johnston was in Winchester, as he was.

By the chairman:

Question. This is exceedingly important, in a military point of view. Was it not a most important fact for General Scott and General McDowell to know when Johnston started to go down to Manassas?

Answer. Undoubtedly it was; and the instant I got the information it was communicated to him.

Question. As soon as he started you communicated the information?

Answer. Not as soon as he started, but as soon as I knew it, without a moment’s delay.

Question. What day was that?

Answer. That was on the 20th, on Saturday.

Question. That was the first you discovered he was gone?

Answer. Yes, sir; the first intimation I had of it.

Question. How was that information communicated?

Answer. By telegram, immediately, not by post; horses from Charlestown to Harper’s Ferry, and telegraphed from thence here; and the despatch was known all over this town on Saturday evening.

Question. Did that telegram reach General Scott?

Answer. I do not know; I cannot say as to that.

Question. I understood you to say that you found yourself, in view of his re-enforcements and of your own condition, too weak to detain Johnston?

Answer. What I meant to say was this: it would have accomplished nothing if I had taken Winchester; I could not have kept him up there; and I supposed that General Scott was perfectly safe then, because on the 18th Johnston was still there, and could not under three days get to Manassas.

Question. I know you say you supposed the battle at Manassas had been fought; yet you might have been mistaken about that.

Answer. I was mistaken, no doubt, about that; I was mistaken.

Question. But this is what I am trying to get at: The moment you found you had not a force, sufficient to resist the purpose of Johnston to go down to Manassas, it was a fact all important for General Scott and General McDowell to know.

Answer. As far as General McDowell was concerned, I could have no communication with him.

Question. I know that.

Answer. And I had the order of General Scott to remain in front of Johnston as long as he remained in the valley of Winchester; and I had no right to move. If I had had the order on the 18th to come down here, I could have got down in time; on the 20th I could not.

Question. What I mean is this: you found yourself, in your own estimation, too weak to resist Johnston’s moving down to Manassas. Now, when that fact was known to you, ought you not to have communicated it to General Scott at once, and said to him: “I am not able to detain Johnston here?”

Answer. I communicated to General Scott every circumstance connected with my command. On the 9th I communicated the fact that I was in a false position, and asked to go to Charlestown. On the 12th he acknowledged the receipt of that, ordered me to go Charlestown, and told me he would attack on Tuesday. On the 13th he directed me to make a demonstration to hold Johnston. On Tuesday I made the demonstration and occupied his time. On the next day I moved to Charlestown, where General Scott had ordered me to go, and where I had asked leave to go; and then I was in a condition to come down here, and was in no condition to restrain Johnston.

Question. When you found you was in no condition to detain Johnston, was it not all important that that fact should have been communicated to General Scott—not the fact that you could not fight Johnston, but that you could not detain him, that your strength was insufficient to do that, and he could not rely upon his being kept back?

Answer. I never supposed for a moment that General Scott believed for the fifty-fifth part of a second that I could hold him.

Question. It is evident that his orders all along presuppose that you could detain him.

Answer. Could occupy him. If you will look back to the testimony in relation to the 13th and 16th of June, you will find that he then reproved me for trying to disturb him. What was the use of trying to drive him down to Strasburg? The impression upon my mind, and upon the minds of all around me, was that General Scott did not wish him to be disturbed at Winchester.

Question. General Scott wanted him to be prevented from forming a junction with Beauregard?

Answer. Yes, sir; not to drive him out of Winchester upon Manassas.

Question. And he made his arrangements for the battle in view of that all- important fact?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Now if it occurred to you that it could not be done, was it not all-important that he should have been advised of it?

Answer. Yes, sir; but my belief all the time was that so long as I remained there he would have stayed; and it is clear he would have stayed if he had not been ordered down.

Question. He would obey orders. But you knew he had an all-prevailing motive to make such a junction, and of course you had just as strong a one to prevent it?

Answer. Precisely.

Question. And it was just as important that General Scott should know the first moment it could be ascertained that you could not prevent Johnston forming that junction; because he could then make his arrangements, in view of that most decisive fact.

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. So that I say it occurs to me that the moment you found you could not detain Johnston, for any reason, you should have informed General Scott that you could not do it.

Answer. I had not found I could not do it, for I believed that by remaining there I could do it.

By Mr. Gooch :

Question. You say you would have fought General Johnston in an open field?

Answer. I certainly should not have avoided it.

Question. Did he make any demonstration towards coming out into the open field to fight you?

Answer. No, sir.

Question. He kept behind his batteries at Winchester?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Then as you were in your position at Bunker Hill, and he was behind his batteries at Winchester, and had placed obstructions in your way to prevent your reaching him—did you not infer from that that he did not desire to meet you in the open field?

Answer. My impression was that he meant to induce us to believe he was weak ; that by putting up these obstacles it was adding to the lure, that it was a decoy, and that he desired us to come up ; that these things were not put there really to prevent us from coming up, but actually to coax us up.

Question. Was not Johnston obliged to cross the Shenandoah river when he left his position at Winchester to go towards Manassas?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Might you not have taken some position on that river, or in the vicinity of that river, where you could have rendered his crossing it exceedingly difficult and hazardous?

Answer. I could not have got there without the liability of being entirely cut off. That would have placed me between him and Beauregard, have put him in my rear. I went to Charlestown, near the river; but I could not have got to any point above that without getting between him and Beauregard.  I would have put myself in what soldiers call a false position. I could have put myself where I could have harassed him exceedingly; but I would have put myself where the chances were ninety-nine to one I would have been captured. At Bunker Hill I had no supplies; and if I had gone to the other place indicated I could not have got a mouthful without fighting for it.

Question. Would it not have been possible, if you had put yourself below Johnston, and he had pressed you, for you to have come down and formed a junction with General McDowell, leaving Johnston in your rear by tearing up the railroad bridges as you came down?

Answer. I could not have got down by railroad. The road goes from Winchester to Strasburg, and if I had attempted to go to the railroad, I would have had further to march than he had.

Question. Some eight or ten miles further?

Answer. Yes, sir. Besides that, I was in the enemy’s country without any supplies, and with a railroad at his and Beauregard’s command, by which he could have sent up 12,000 men a day.

Question. That was one of the matters discussed in your councils, was it?

Answer. Not in the council at Martinsburg, but among my staff at Bunker Hill, and afterwards at Charlestown.

Question. That was a thing proposed?

Answer. Yes, sir; and discussed fully. That was a matter we talked of at Bunker Hill, going to a place called Smithfield or Middleway, and then striking off in that direction. But the opinion was universal that we should get ourselves in a false position, and unquestionably be all captured.

Question. You were just stating that the general-in-chief, having fixed a day on which he would fight, should have notified you that he had not fought on that day, and so on, from day to day, until the battle actually took place.

Answer. Yes, sir. The ground I placed that upon was this: I was the subordinate of the general-in-chief; bound to obey his orders. As I had nothing to do with the day he was to fight on, he ought not to have informed me until he was ready to fight. But having informed me that he would fight on a certain day, if he did not fight on that day, it was his province to have informed me that he did not fight on that day, and to have informed me, from day to day, until he did fight.

Question. And yet you knew, as a military man, that it was exceedingly difficult, or that it was altogether impossible, to fix some days beforehand a day certain on which a battle would be fought; and did you not consider it your duty to continue to act in reference to Johnston precisely the same as though the battle at Manassas had not been fought, until you had been told that it was fought?

Answer. Not if I had been told it would be fought on a certain day. If I had not been told that, then it would have been my duty to have gone on with my demonstrations. When he informed me that it would be fought on a certain day, then that consideration ceased to have weight.

Question. Did you suppose that you were justified in not doing anything to detain Johnston? Did you suppose that under the circumstances you were justified in failing to do anything that you would have done had you not been told when it was intended the battle of Manassas should be fought?

Answer. I did not fail to do anything I would have done. I did exactly all that could have been done, unless I had been ordered down.

Question. During all the time that General Sanford was with yon, in command of a division, going up, as he did, from the city of Washington, having knowledge, as he might be presumed to have, in relation to the contemplated movements here, especially those of General McDowell, did you have any consultation with him in relation to the movements of your army and the best course to pursue?

Answer. None whatever.

By Mr. Odell:

Question. Did you receive any information from General Sanford in reference to the intended movements of the army here?

Answer. None whatever.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. He made no communication to you in regard to that?

Answer. None whatever. General Sanford brought me a note from General Scott, but made no communication of any kind. Our intercourse was very pleasant as gentlemen. He did me the favor to call upon me, and I returned his call; but he brought me no information from the general-in- chief, and I had no consultation with him whatever.

By Mr. Odell:

Question. You stated, I think, in answer to a question here, that you had given orders for a forward movement on the 16th or the 17th?

Answer. On the 16th, while at Bunker Hill. The orders had not been put out. I had given them to the staff officers, but they had not been published.

Question. You had issued such an order to the proper staff officers?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. At what time did you recall that order?

Answer. I suppose it was somewhere between 3 and 4 o’clock in the afternoon; I cannot exactly fix the time now. It was in the afternoon; late in the afternoon.

Question. What time on the 17th did you move from Bunker Hill?

Answer. Very early in the morning.

Question. What do you mean by “very early?”

Answer. The order was to move at three or four o’clock in the morning, but we did not get off at that time. I started about sunrise; a part of my command was, of course, before me.

Question. While you were at Bunker Hill you held Johnston?

Answer. No, sir; I was just in a straight line from him the other way. In other words, he was directly between me and Manassas Junction. He could leave when he pleased.

Question. The effect of your being at Bunker Hill was to hold Johnston in his position?

Answer. Yes, sir; as well as at any other place.

Question. Do you know now at what time Johnston left his position in front of you?

Answer. He left in the afternoon of the following day.

Question. Of the 17th?

Answer. No, sir; of the 18th.

Question. The effect of your going to Charlestown was to untie Johnston and his forces?

Answer. Yes, sir; I could not hold him at Martinsburg.

Question. I am not speaking of any other position than Charlestown. When you went to Charlestown you untied Johnston and enabled him to go forward?

Answer. Yes, sir; but I could not remain at Bunker Hill, because I had no supplies there, and was crippled in my movements.

Question. Now, in reference to the dissatisfaction of the troops, did not that manifest itself more after you had gone to Charlestown from the enemy than it did while you were at Bunker Hill?

Answer. I do not think there was any more dissatisfaction at the one place than at the other. The men had talked about going home until they had determined on it. I speak now of the Pennsylvania troops. I saw very little of the others. I speak of the Pennsylvania troops, including those that joined me late. And the others, I think, were the same. I do not think the going to Charlestown made any difference with them at all. They had talked about it, made up their minds about it, and they were determined to go. With the majority of them their time was up, and their hearts were bent upon going.

By Mr. Julian:

Question. Were not all willing to stay, without regard to the expiration of their time, if you would lead them against the enemy?

Answer. No such expression was manifested to me; no such communication was made to me. There has been a statement that Colonel Butterfield begged, time and again, to do that. But no such application was made to me. No regiment, or colonel, or general, or officer, under my command, ever asked to be led to the front—not one. I am satisfied there was a great desire, on the part of all, to have a fight. There is no doubt about that. But we were not allowed to go towards the enemy at Winchester until a certain day. I have here my general order of July 20, of which I read paragraph 3, as follows: “The detachment of about 250 of the 1st Pennsylvania regiment, claiming their immediate discharge at expiration of term of service, will be sent via Baltimore to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to be mustered out of service. A muster-roll of the detachment will be sent with the party.” These 250 men were so discharged on that day. They refused to serve longer, although appealed to by me, appealed to by their gallant colonel, and, I believe, by other officers. But they went off without their officers, with their muster-rolls, to be discharged. The remainder of the regiment agreed to stay six days longer. I have a document here which I desire to put upon record. It is a letter dated the 13th of July, and signed by nine captains of one regiment refusing to stay beyond the time when their term of service expired. I think it had better go upon the record.— (Appendix No. 50.)

The witness stated that he would like to have some officers who served there under him, and who are entirely familiar with the whole campaign, appear before the committee and testify.

The chairman stated that the witness could furnish a list of names of such persons as he might desire to be called, and the committee would take the matter into consideration.

Subsequently, having read over his testimony as written out by the reporter, the witness returned it with the following statement:

In reference to the question by Mr. Odell:

“Question. The effect of your going to Charlestown was to untie Johnston and his force?”

I could not have understood that question, or I should not have made such an answer. Johnston was never tied, and I could not hold him at Martinsburg, Bunker Hill, or anywhere else. He was before me at Falling Waters, at Martinsburg, at Big Spring, at Darkesville, at Bunker Hill, and at Winchester. I could hold him at neither place; he retired as I approached.

JCCW – Gen. Robert Patterson Part II

1 07 2009

Testimony of Gen. Robert Patterson

Report on the Conduct of the War, Vol. 2, pp. 89-98

WASHINGTON, January 7, 1862.

General R. PATTERSON resumed as follows:

I omitted yesterday to read a letter from the general-in-chief, dated July 5, 1861. It is as follows:

“HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY, “Washington July 5, 1861—11 p. m.

“Major General PATTERSON, Hagerstown Md.:

“Your letter of the 4th is received. Orders were sent this morning to Madison for the 3d and 4th regiments from Wisconsin to repair to Williamsport via Chambersburg and report to you.

“The 19th and 28th New York regiments leave here for Hagerstown tomorrow at half past 2 p. m. You will have to provide transportation for them thence to the post you may order them to.

“If any three months men will re-engage for the long term, designate a regular officer of your command to muster them, provided a sufficient number can be obtained to form a regiment.

“Having defeated the enemy, if you can continue the pursuit without too great a hazard, advance via Leesburg or Strasburg towards Alexandria, but consider the dangerous defiles, especially via Strasburg, and move with great caution, especially via Strasburg, halting at Winchester, and threatening a movement by Strasburg or the passage of the Potomac twice, and coming down by Leesburg may be the more advantageous movement.”

On the 6th of July I sent to the general-in-chief an official report of the battle of Falling Waters.—(Appendix No. 34.) It is due to the officers who distinguished themselves that it should be made known. It has been made public, and never yet, for some reason or other, allowed to go out of the Adjutant General’s office. I also sent a circular, accompanying the report.— (Appendix No. 35.) In a telegram, of date July 6, I informed the general- in-chief that “the insurgents have unquestionably received large re-enforcements, and are said to have 26,000 men, with 24 guns, many rifled, and some of very large calibre.” I then expected to have by the night of the 8th 18,000 men and 16 guns, and intended to march on the 9th and attack them. On the 8th of July an order was issued (Appendix No. 36) reducing the number of tents to four common and one wall tent to each company, and also an order to march the next morning.—(Appendix No. 37.) On the 11th of July I issued a circular (Appendix No. 38) requiring division, brigade, and regimental commanders and quartermasters to have their commands ready to march at a moment’s warning. On the 19th of July I telegraphed the general-in-chief that “the 2d and 3d Pennsylvania volunteers demand discharge, and I send them home to-morrow.” On the 20th General Cadwalader sent in a report (Appendix No. 39) of the dates of expiration of term of service of the different regiments composing his division, in which he states “his fear that the men of two of his regiments would give us trouble,” and “that there was a strong feeling in one regiment on the subject of returning to-morrow.” On the 19th of July I reported to the adjutant general of the army (Appendix No. 40) “that almost all the three months volunteers refuse to serve one hour after their time, except three regiments.”

I closed my narrative yesterday with a reference to my report of July 17 to the general-in-chief, in which I stated that the term of service of 18 of my 26 regiments would expire within seven days. It should be remembered that this report of mine was from Charlestown where I had gone on the 17th, having on the day appointed made the demonstration ordered by General Scott on the 13th, and performed my part perfectly. No information was sent to me on either the 14th, 15th, or 16th, the last being the day on which General Scott said Manassas would be attacked. If any change took place, and the attack was not to be made on the 16th, then it was the imperative duty of the general-in-chief to have informed me, that I might have arranged my movements in accordance, and have made my demonstrations against Winchester at the proper time. Confident that Manassas Junction would be attacked on Tuesday, I moved from Martinsburg on Monday, and drove Johnston’s pickets in on Tuesday. If I had known the assault on the Junction would not have been made until Sunday, I would not have moved until Saturday. I am not therefore responsible for the appearance of Gen eral Johnston at Manassas on Sunday, the 21st. The same neglect or inattention kept me from being at Manassas to meet Johnston. No information of any kind was given me by General Scott from the 13th to the 17th.

On the 17th he telegraphed me, (Appendix No. 41,) “McDowell’s first day’s work has driven the enemy beyond Fairfax Court-House; the Junction will probably be carried to-morrow.” This anticipation was unfortunately not realized.

Let me recapitulate the essence of General Scott’s last three despatches. On the 12th, “Go to Charlestown; I will attack Manassas on Tuesday.” On the 13th, “If not strong enough to meet the enemy early next week, make demonstrations, so as to detain him in the valley of Winchester.” On the 17th, “McDowell’s first day’s work has driven the enemy beyond Fairfax Court-House ; the Junction will probably be carried to-morrow.” With this despatch of the 17th in possession, I and the officers under me were relieved from great anxiety, indeed were very exultant. With Fairfax Court-House in possession of our troops, and the Junction to be taken the next day, all I had to do was to be ready to meet and repel the attack which all expected.

On the 18th of July General Scott telegraphed me (Appendix No. 42) as follows: “I have certainly been expecting you to beat the enemy; if not, to hear that you had felt him strongly, or at least have occupied him by threats and demonstrations. You have been at least his equal, and I suppose superior in numbers. Has he not stolen a march and sent re-enforcements towards Manassas Junction? A week is enough to win a victory. The time of volunteers counts from the day of muster into the service of the United States. You must not retreat across the Potomac. If necessary, when abandoned by the short-term volunteers, intrench somewhere, and wait for re-enforcements.” I had no doubt that the opinion of the general-in-chief was correct, that “a week was enough to win a victory.” My own army had gained a decided victory in less than four hours on the day I crossed the Potomac, and it was the opinion of myself and all the officers under my command that we would have gained many victories several days earlier if the general-in-chief had not emasculated my army by ordering from me my regulars, (infantry, artillery, and cavalry,) with the Rhode Island regiment and battery, just at the moment when they were most needed. But the want of artillery and transportation compelled me to wait at Martinsburg until the enemy, previously my superior in men and guns, had time to be re-enforced heavily with both, and to intrench themselves at Winchester having nearly 50 field guns, and more siege guns, of the heaviest calibre and of longer range, than I had of all kinds.

Were I disposed to indulge in recrimination I might retort with some severity upon the lieutenant general the expression so unjustly used towards myself. For full three months after the remark General Scott has been obliged to retire from the command of an army in which are concentrated all the choice troops of the country without that victory with which he was so anxious to close his brilliant career In fact, the whole country, who looked for the most brilliant results from the rawest of all troops, now apprehend, as well, perhaps, as the lieutenant general himself, that one who attempts to precipitate a victory will run the risk of finding also that “a week is long enough for a defeat.”

On the same day, the 18th, I sent three telegrams and one letter (Appendix Nos. 43, 44, 45, and 46) to the general-in-chief, informing him of the condition of my command; that many of my men “were without shoes;” the men had received no pay, and neither officers nor soldiers had money to purchase with ; that under the circumstances I could not ask or expect the three months men to stay longer than one week; that I had “that day appealed almost in vain to the regiments to stand by the country for a week or ten days; the men were longing for their homes, and nothing could detain them;” that “Captain Newton had been sent that day to Harper’s Ferry to arrange for defence, and re-establish communication with Maryland;” that the general’s order had been obeyed ” to threaten and make demonstrations to detain Johnston at Winchester;” that Johnston had been largely re-enforced, and that even if I could “take Winchester it would be only to withdraw my men, and be forced to retreat, thus losing the fruits of victory.” At 1.30 a. m. that morning I telegraped General Scott that “telegraph of date received. Mine of to-night gives the condition of my command. Some regiments of my command have given warning not to serve an hour over their time. To attack under such circumstances the greatly superior force at Winchester is most hazardous. My letter of the 16th gives you further information.”

I will read here my letters of the 14th and 16th to the general-in-chief:

“MARTINSBURG, Virginia, July 14, 1861.

“I have thus far succeeded in keeping in this vicinity the command under General Johnston, who is now pretending to be engaged in fortifying at Winchester, but prepared to retire beyond striking distance if I should advance far. To-morrow I advance to Bunker Hill, preparatory to the other movement. If an opportunity oilers I shall attack, but, unless I can rout, shall be careful not to set him in full retreat upon Strasburg. I have arranged for the occupation of Harper’s Ferry, opposite which point I have directed provisions to be sent. Many of the three months volunteers are very restless at the prospect of being retained over their time. This fact will soon cause you to hear of me in the direction of Charlestown. Want of ample transportation for supplies and baggage has prevented my moving earlier in the direction I desired.”

In my letter of the 16th, from Bunker Hill, I wrote:

“I have the honor to report, for the information of the general-in-chief, my advance and arrival at this place yesterday, opposed only by a body of six hundred cavalry, of which one was killed and five taken prisoners. Tomorrow I move upon Charlestown. A reconnoissance shows the Winchester road blocked by fallen trees and fences placed across it, indicating no confidence in the large force now said to be in Winchester. I send you a sketch, prepared by Captain Simpson, of the works said to have been erected in the vicinity of Winchester. Preparations have already been commenced to occupy and hold Harper’s Ferry with the three years troops. If the general-in-chief desires to retain that place, (and I advise it never to be evacuated,) I desire to be at once informed by telegraph. I have to report that the time of service of a very large portion of this force will expire in a few days. From an undercurrent expression of feeling I am confident that many will be inclined to lay down their arms the day their time expires. With such a feeling existing, any active operations towards Winchester cannot be thought of until they are replaced by three years men. Those whose term expires this week, and will not remain, I shall arrange to send off by Harper’s Ferry; those for Philadelphia via Baltimore; those for Harrisburg via Hagerstown. If Harper’s Ferry is to be held, after securing that, I shall, if the general-in-chief desires, advance with the remainder of the troops via Leesburg, provided the force under Johnston does not remain at Winchester, after the success which I anticipate from General McDowell. I wish to be advised if these preparations meet with the approval of the general-in-chief. The Wisconsin regiments are without arms and accoutrements, which I have directed the commander of Frankfort arsenal to provide.”

On the 17th I wrote from Charlestown:

“The term of service of the Pennsylvania troops (eighteen regiments) expires within seven days, commencing to-morrow. I can rely on none of them renewing service. I must be at once provided with efficient three years men, or withdraw to Harper’s Ferry. Shall I occupy permanently Harper’s Ferry, or withdraw entirely? I wrote yesterday on this subject, and now wish to be informed of the intentions of the general-in-chief. My march to-day was without opposition or incidents of importance. The country has been drained of men. This place has been a depot for supplies for force at Winchester, and the presence of the army is not welcome.”

I telegraphed the general-in-chief from Charlestown, at 1.30 a. m., on the 18th: “Telegram of date received. Mine of to-night gives the condition of my command. Some regiments have given warning not to serve an hour over time. To attack under such circumstances, against the greatly superior force at Winchester, is most hazardous. My letter of the 16th gives you further information. Shall I attack?”

On the same day, at 1 p. m., I telegraphed the general-in-chief: “I have succeeded, in accordance with the wishes of the general-in-chief, in keeping General Johnston’s force at Winchester. A reconnoissance in force on Tuesday caused him to be largely re-enforced from Strasburg. With the existing feeling and determination of the three months men to return home, it would be ruinous to advance or even to stay here without immediate increase of force to replace them. They will not remain. I have ordered the brigades to assemble this afternoon, and shall make a personal appeal to the troops to stay a few days, until I can be re-enforced. Many of the regiments are without shoes; the government refuses to furnish them. The men have received no pay, and neither officers nor soldiers have money to purchase with. Under these circumstances I cannot ask or expect the three months volunteers to stay longer than one week. Two companies of Pennsylvania volunteers were discharged to-day and ordered home. I to-day place additional force at Harper’s Ferry and re-establish communication with Maryland. I send Captain Newton to prepare for its defence.”

On the same day I telegraphed again to the general-in-chief: “Telegram of to-day received. The enemy has stolen no march upon me. I have kept him actively employed, and, by threats and reconnoissance in force, caused him to be re-enforced. I have accomplished, in this respect, more than the general-in-chief asked, or could be expected, in face of an enemy far superior in numbers, with no line of communication to protect.”

On the 18th I wrote from Charlestown as follows: “I arrived at this place on the 17th instant; nothing of importance occurred on the march. The principal inhabitants left some ten days since, anticipating its occupation by the federal troops. It was till our arrival the location of a band of secession militia, engaged in pressing into the service the young men of the country.

“I have to acknowledge the receipt of two telegrams from the general-in-chief, of the 17th and 18th instant, both looking to a movement and attack upon Winchester. A state of affairs existed which the general-in-chief is not aware of, though, in some respects, anticipated by his instructions, that if I found the enemy too strong to attack, to threaten and make demonstrations to detain him at Winchester. I more than carried out the wishes of the general-in-chief in this respect. Before I left Martinsburg I was informed of a large increase of Johnston’s command, and of the visit to Winchester of the leading members of the confederate army. Just before General McDowell was to strike I advanced to Bunker Hill, causing surprise, and, I have since learned, an additional increase of force. On Tuesday I sent out a reconnoitring party towards Winchester; it drove in the enemy’s pickets, and caused the army to be formed in line of battle, anticipating an attack from my main force. This party found the road barricaded and blocked by fallen trees. The following day I left for this place.

“Before marching from Martinsburg I heard of the mutterings of many of the volunteer regiments, and their expressed determination not to serve one hour after their term of service should expire. I anticipated a better expression of opinion as we approached the enemy, and hoped to hear of a willingness to remain a week or ten days. I was disappointed, and when I was prepared for a movement to the front, by an order for the men to carry two days’ provisions in their haversacks, I was assailed by earnest remonstrances against being detained over their term of service; complaints from officers of want of shoes and other clothing, all throwing obstacles in the way of active operations. Indeed, I found I should, if I took Winchester, be without men, and be forced to retreat, thus losing the fruits of victory. Under the circumstances neither I nor those on whom I could rely could advance with any confidence.

“I am therefore now here with a force which will be dwindling away very rapidly. I to-day appealed almost in vain to the regiments to stand by the country-for a week or ten days. The men are longing for their homes, and nothing will detain them. I send Captain Newton to-day to Harper’s Ferry to arrange for defence and re-establish communication with Maryland and the Massachusetts regiments. The 3d Wisconsin will soon be there. Lieutenant Babcock has been at Sandy Hook several days trying to get the canal in operation, prepare the entrance to the ford, putting in operation a ferry, and reconstructing the bridge. Depots for all supplies will soon be established, and there I shall cause to be turned in the camp equipage, &c., of the regiments. And to that place I shall withdraw if I find my force so small as to render my preserit position unsafe. I cannot intrench sufficiently to defend this place against a large force. I shall direct the regiments to be sent to Harrisburg and Philadelphia, to be mustered out by Captain Hastings and Major Ruff and Captain Wharton.

On the 19th I wrote to the adjutant general of the army:

“Almost all the three months volunteers refused to serve an hour over their time, except three regiments, which will stay ten days; the most of them are without shoes and without pants. I am compelled to send them home, many of them at once. Some go to Harrisburg, some to Philadelphia, one to Indiana, and, if not otherwise directed by telegraph, I shall send them to the place of muster, to which I request rolls may be sent, and Captain Hastings, Major Ruff, and Captain Wharton ordered to muster them out. They cannot march, and unless a paymaster goes to them they will be indecently clad and have just cause to complain.”

I will state here that the troops I appealed to to remain were those from Pennsylvania. I did not appeal to the Indiana regiment, but the next day they marched up to my headquarters and offered to remain. I was very much delighted I assure you.

As I have before stated, at 1.30 a. m. of the 18th of July I telegraphed General Scott that “some regiments of my command have given warning not to serve an hour over their time. To attack under such circumstances the greatly superior force at Winchester is most hazardous. My letter of the 16th gives you further information,” and closed by asking, “Shall I attack?” Let it be borne in mind that this was despatched at half past one in the morning; and to be ready for the order to attack, if it came, the following order, addressed to commanders of divisions and brigades, was issued: “Have cooked provisions provided immediately for your men in haversacks, and be ready to march whenever called upon.” General Scott might have left it to my discretion to act as circumstances required, or have ordered me to attack Johnston, or have ordered me to march with all speed to Leesburg and join with McDowell in the attack on Manassas. If left to myself, I would, as the correspondence proves, have done the latter; and if I had, it is probable that with my little army in the action, Bull Run would not have been a drawn battle. I had carefully and correctly kept General Scott advised of all my movements, and of the great superiority of the enemy; and when goaded by the taunt, “a week is enough to win a victory,” I asked “shall I attack,” the responsibility of an answer, negative or affirmative, is evaded.

General Scott begins his despatch of the 18th with, “I have certainly been expecting you to meet the enemy,” and closes by saying, “You must not recross the Potomac. If necessary, when abandoned by the short-time volunteers, intrench somewhere and wait for re-enforcements.” These passages do not fit well together in the same despatch, and come with a bad grace after having ordered me to go to Charlestown and “make demonstrations to detain Johnston in the valley of Winchester.” I knew, and so repeatedly informed General Scott, that Johnston was far superior in men and artillery. After the council of July 9 was held, reliable information was received by me that General Johnston was so largely re-enforced with men and guns as to render an assault upon his intrenchments utterly hopeless. The immense superiority of the enemy at Winchester in men and guns, as well as in position, was well known. The information was obtained from Union men who had been there, from prisoners, from deserters, and from various sources, all agreeing on an average of forty thousand men and over sixty guns. A captain named Morrill, or Wellmore, belonging to a Maryland regiment, and taken prisoner at Charlestown by a party from Harper’s Perry, gave forty thousand. A gentleman of Berkeley county, of high respectability, serving under Johnston as an unwilling Virginia volunteer in Jackson’s brigade at the battle of Falling Waters, subsequently gave the following statement, taken down by General Negley, and by him given to me:

“General Jackson retreated with his brigade, consisting then of four regiments and four pieces of artillery, (Captain Pendleton,) to Big Spring, three and a half miles south of Martinsburg. General Johnston arrived at Darkesville the same night with about fourteen thousand men. He was then re-enforced by one regiment and one battery (four guns) flying artillery. General Jackson retreated to that point. The army made a stand there for four days; they then retreated to Winchester. When we arrived there, we found fortifications commenced by the militia. All the army then assisted, and in two days the city was fortified all around, within two miles of the suburbs, with intrenchments. Re-enforcements commenced pouring in. Ten forty-two pounders were placed, masked, around the fortifications; also artificial thickets planted for riflemen. The force consisted of forty-two thousand, including four thousand militia. General Johnston then received a despatch, as read to the men, that General Patterson was out of the way; that he had gone to get in Beauregard’s rear; and that Jeff. Davis had ordered him to cut off General P. in order to save the country; that Gen. B. had been attacked by an overwhelming force. General Johnston’s army moved at 1 o’clock p. m. Thursday, consisting of nine brigades, with fifty- two pieces of flying artillery, including three ten-inch columbiads, represented to me as such. Amongst the artillery was a detachment of the Washington Artillery, consisting of eight guns, four of which were rifled cannon. General J. took with him thirty-five thousand men, leaving the militia and volunteers, to the number of seven thousand, in Winchester.”

Another gentleman gave the following statement, taken by General Cadwalader, and by him given to me. Mr. ——— says:

“General Johnston’s force at Winchester was forty-two thousand men, infantry, artillery, and cavalry, of which eight hundred Virginia cavalry, under Colonel Stuart, and three hundred from southern States. Forty regiments, thirty-five thousand men, left Winchester at 1 o’clock p. m. on Thursday, by order of General Beauregard; took the road to Berry’s Ford, on the Shenandoah, thirteen and a half miles over the Blue Ridge to Piedmont Station, on the Manassas Gap railroad, fifteen miles, making twenty-eight and a half miles, requiring two days’ march. Freight and passenger cars had been hauled over the road, on their own wheels, to Strasburg last week, and on them Johnston’s forces were expected to be transported on the Manassas railroad from Piedmont to Manasas Junction, thirty-eight to forty miles. There remained at Winchester 7,000 troops until Saturday afternoon, when they left for Strasburg on their way to Manassas, except about 2,500 of the militia of the neighboring counties, disbanded and sent home. A large quantity of arms in boxes was sent to Strasburg. The Virginia cavalry remained, (under Colonel Stuart,) and went to Berrysville to observe the movements of General Patterson’s column. The rest of the cavalry went with General Johnston. They had at Winchester sixty-two pieces of artillery in position in the fortifications; about ten 42-pounders (some they thought were columbiads) were left. The remainder were taken by General Johnston. A detachment of the Washington Artillery, from New Orleans, had eight heavy guns, of which four were 32-pounders. These were hauled by twenty-eight horses each, the rest (smaller guns) by six and four horses each. Part, if not all of them, were brass rifled guns. The fortifications surrounded Winchester, except to the southward, upon the high ground; very heavy earthworks made with bags and barrels filled /with earth, &c. In front of the breastworks deep trenches were dug communicating below with inside of the works. The guns were all masked with artificial thickets of evergreens, which were intended in some cases to be used as ambuscades for riflemen and sharpshooters. Among the regiments was one of Kentucky riflemen armed with heavy bowie-knives. They refused to take more than one round of cartridges. They proposed to place themselves in the bushes for assault. All the fences had been levelled for miles in front of Winchester. The fortifications extended two and a half miles. The trees had been feHed between Bunker Hill and Winchester to impede our advance. Fifteen hundred sick at Winchester confined with measles, dysentery, and typhoid fever. Prisoners taken from our column were sent to Richmond. Wise has been recalled, it is said, with his troops from Western Virginia. Beauregard and Davis had done it in opposition to General Lee’s advice.”

On the 23d of July General Scott, a witness who cannot be suspected of a desire to overrate the enemy’s force in men and guns, telegraphed to General Banks, at Harper’s Ferry, (App. No. 47,) ” there are nine 32-pounders, four 44-pounders, two 6-pounders, and a very large amount of powder, balls, and shell at Winchester.” Add to these siege guns the twenty field guns reported by General Cadwalader and Captain Newton on the 20th June, and you have from two of our own officers of the highest rank in the service, Scott and Cadwalader, official information that the enemy at Winchester had double the number of guns I had. But it is well-known that Johnston carried over fifty guns, some of the largest calibre, with him.

On the same day he telegraphed to General Banks, (App. No. 48,) “I deem it useful, perhaps highly important, to hold Harper’s Ferry. It will probably soon be attacked, but not, I hope, before I shall have sent you adequate re-enforcements. A Connecticut regiment may soon be expected by you. Others shall to-morrow be ordered to follow.” This despatch speaks for itself. If my army was stronger than Johnston’s, why, I again ask, send re-enforcements to General Banks? A most reliable and respectable gentleman furnished my engineer with a detailed statement (App. No. 49) giving the regiments from each State—say, two from Kentucky, two from Tennessee, five from Alabama, five from Georgia, one from North Carolina, five from Mississippi, two from Maryland, &c.—making a total force of over 35,000 confederate troops at Winchester. These statements, which I have seen and examined, with the names of the gentlemen who furnished them, with many others taken by different officers from different persons at different times and places, agree very much in the main facts. From these and other documents, and from information obtained in various ways, there is no doubt of the fact that General Johnston had not only the advantage of extensive intrenchments in his own country, with abundant supplies, and a railroad which could bring him re-enforcements at the rate of 12,000 men a day, and I could get none, but that he had at least three men and four guns to my one, and that nothing but the good order of my column saved it from annihilation and capture by Johnston”. Why should I have made an attack with such awful odds against me? I had done all I was asked to do, and all that was necessary, if General Scott’s plan of attack on Manassas had been carried out in season. I was informed that, on the 16th, the assault on Manassas would be made; and had no information to the contrary until the receipt of General Scott’s telegram of the 17th, saying it would probably be taken on the 18th. I then supposed it would be taken en the 18th, and had no information of the repulse of General McDowell’s column until I heard through the newspapers of the unfortunate affair of the 21st. It is just within the bounds of possibility that, with a frightful slaughter of my men, I might have taken Winchester. But why hazard the safety of the army, possibly of the country, upon such a contingency?  If General Scott had taken the Junction, I was in position, my army intact, ready for anything required of me. If our army had been repulsed at Manassas, I was in position to do what I did do—prevent the army from crossing the Potomac to assail Washington, Baltimore, and Philadelphia, and desolating Maryland and Pennsylvania. If I could with heavy loss have taken Winchester, it would have been a bloody and a barren victory. I had but twenty- six regiments under my command; of these the terms of service of eighteen from Pennsylvania and one from Indiana expired within ten days. I could not have held Winchester if I had taken it. The general-in-chief knew when the term of service of the regiments in my army, and at Washington, expired. If General McDowell’s army could not be got ready to fight on the 16th, no battle ought to have been fought then. I knew that General Johnston was too good a soldier to retreat with an army of over 18,000 men and twenty-two guns before an army of 10,000 men and six guns, for that was about the relative strength the day my army entered Martinsburg. He would not retreat except for a purpose. It was the opinion of the officers of the old army, and of most of the new, that Johnston had a trap set for me, and many feared I would fall into it. But fortunately I had full and reliable information which convinced me, and every officer of my staff, that Johnston’s object in falling back as I advanced was to lure me on to an attack on the entrenched camp at Winchester. If the bait had taken defeat was inevitable, and a large portion of my army would probably have been destroyed, and the residue been made prisoners of war. The affair would have been more disastrous than that of Bull Run, for my force had no intrenchments to fall back upon. The Potomac was behind me, and the retreat would have been a disgraceful rout. The enemy, flushed with two victories instead of one, and no army intact to check them, would have been in possession of Washington, Baltimore, and possibly Philadelphia within five days. If General Scott really “supposed” me “superior in numbers,” why the necessity of ordering me “not to retreat across the Potomac, but to intrench somewhere and wait for re-enforcements.” Why send re-enforcements if I was stronger than the enemy? Did I retreat, or attempt to retreat, across the Potomac? Certainly not. I held Harper’s Ferry until I was relieved on the 25th of July, and would, under the order of the 18th, have held it until the crack of doom, unless relieved or ordered away. On the 20th of July I telegraphed General Scott as follows: “With a portion of his force Johnston left Winchester, by the road to Millwood, on the afternoon of the 18th—his whole force 35,200.” That is, he marched with that number of confederate troops—leaving 7,000 volunteers and militia in Winchester. With this information in the hands of the general- in-chief what excuse can be given for fighting on the 21st, when it is apparent to the eye of any one who reads the reports of General McDowell, and of his division and brigade commanders, that our army was in no degree fitted for the encounter? The frank, manly, and soldier-like report of General McDowell proves this. If General Scott chooses to fight, or force others to fight when not ready, I am not responsible for the unfortunate result. My case is in a nut-shell. Johnston’s force was always much stronger than mine in men and guns. I was not to fight unless I was equal or superior to him, but to threaten in order to keep him at Winchester until Manassas was attacked, which, by instructions, was to be on Tuesday, the 16th. Johnston was kept until the Thursday following, and the attack on Manassas was not made till Sunday, the 21st, and then not in the morning. Had others discharged their duty, mine having been accomplished, the contest would have been different in its results. Had the enemy been beaten at Manassas all praise would have been bestowed on my command for having manoeuvred to keep Johnston so long at Winchester. I have gone over my papers, in detail, to enable the committee to understand the operations and conduct of my column. I have asked for a court of inquiry, and it has been refused. I have asked, through the Senate of the United States, for all the correspondence between General Scott and myself, and all the orders of that distinguished soldier to me. This, also, has been refused, and for the same reason, that it would be incompatible with the public interests. I do not question the propriety of the refusal. The knowledge of the fact that it would be injurious, and very injurious, has caused me to submit to all manner of misrepresentations for the last six months. The youngest soldier in the army is entitled -to fair play. I have been a major general for nearly forty years, and hope it will not be denied to me. I was honorably discharged on the 19th of July—two days before the battle of Bull Run. On that day I was pleading with the troops to stand by the government. I am not here to make a defence—there is no official charge against me. My record is perfect. I seek controversy with no man. But if there is any man of sufficient rank and character, or of rank without character, or character without rank, to entitle him to consideration, who has any charge to make against my military conduct, I not only will invite but will thank him to make it, and bring it before a court-martial or of inquiry, and I will meet it. All I ask is justice, strict justice for service rendered. It is the duty of the government to protect the character of officers who have performed their duty, been honorably discharged, and are unjustly assailed. I am confident this committee will see fair play.

[At the request of the witness the committee will consider the question of attaching his farewell order to his testimony.]

Adjourned till to-morrow.

JCCW – Gen. Robert Patterson Part I

30 06 2009

Testimony of Gen. Robert Patterson

Report on the Conduct of the War, Vol. 2, pp. 78-89

WASHINGTON, January 6, 1862

General ROBERT PATTERSON sworn and examined.

By the chairman:

Question. Please state in as brief a manner as you can conveniently the connexion that you have had with the present war. State it in your own way without questioning at first. Give us a narrative as brief as you can properly and conveniently make it.

Answer. If any testimony has been given that affects the management of my column, I would like to have it read before I begin. I believe it is customary to have that done.

Question. We are not impeaching the conduct of any man. We are merely endeavoring to get all the light we can upon the conduct of the war. We take every man’s narrative of it, which we endeavor to keep secret, and which we request the witness to keep secret, for the present at least.

Answer. My only object is to answer anything that has been said.

Question. That would be best answered by a plain statement of the facts of the case. I will state that our purpose is not to impeach any man in any connexion he may have had with the war. What Congress expects of us, their committee, is to obtain such facts as we suppose will be useful in throwing light upon the military operations of the army, in order to apply any remedy that may be necessary. I perceive, by the documents that you have before you, that you are about entering upon what is probably a very minute narration; that might be necessary if you were accused—it might then be very proper. But we have no such object in view.

Answer. It is scarcely possible for me to give you in fewer words than I have got here the operations of the army under my command.

After some conversation in relation to the order of proceeding, on motion of Mr. Johnson the witness was allowed to pursue his own way of replying to the interrogatory of the chairman.

The witness accordingly proceeded as follows:

By general orders No. 3, from the headquarters of the army, dated 19th April, 1861, [App. No. 1,] I was appointed to the command of the department of Washington, consisting of the States of Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. Until the early part of June I was actively engaged in organizing, equipping, and forwarding regiments to Washington, Annapolis, and Baltimore, and in opening, occupying, and defending the lines of communication with the capital. I was then permitted to turn my attention to the organization of the column destined to retake Harper’s Ferry. The impression has been permitted to go forth from this city, and has been most extensively circulated elsewhere, that I had not obeyed orders. I have with me, and will place in your possession, documents to prove that I did all that I was ordered to do, and more than any one had a right to expect, under the circumstances in which I and my command were placed. And I defy any man, high or low, to put his finger on an order disobeyed, or even a practicable suggestion that was not carried out. My column was well conducted; there was not a false step made, nor a blunder committed. The skirmishers were always in front, and our flanks were well protected; we were caught in no trap, and fell in no ambush.  My command repeatedly offered the enemy battle, and when they accepted it in the open field we beat them; there was no defeat and no retreat with my column.

The facts in the case would have been made known immediately after I was relieved at Harper’s Ferry in July, but the publication of the documents at that time would have been most detrimental to the public interest. Some two months ago I supposed an investigation could be made without injury; and on the 1st of November I complained to the War Department of the injustice done me, and asked for a court of inquiry, or permission to publish the correspondence between the general-in-chief and myself, and of his orders to me. On the 3d of November the Assistant Secretary of War, Hon. T. A. Scott, acknowledged the receipt of my application. On the 26th of November I respectfully asked the attention of the Hon. Secretary of War to my letter; and on the 30th the Secretary replied, declining, for reasons assigned in his letter, to appoint a court of inquiry.—(Appendix No. 2.) I then requested Hon. John Sherman, senator of the United States from Ohio, who had done me the honor to serve on my staff as aide-de-camp, to offer a resolution, calling for all the correspondence and the orders. The distinguished senator did so; it passed unanimously. The Secretary of War has declined to publish the papers, as it would be incompatible with the public interests. I furnish herewith a copy of the resolution offered at my request by Senator Sherman, and the reply of the Hon. Secretary.—(Appendix No. 3.) On the 3d of June I took command at Chambersburg. On the 4th of June I was informed by the general-in- chief that he considered the addition to my force of a battery of artillery and some regular infantry indispensable. In this opinion I cordially concurred.—(Appendix No. 4.) On the 8th of June the general-in-chief sent my letter of general instructions.—(Appendix No. 5.) In this I am told, “there must be no reverse. But this is not enough. A check or a drawn battle would be a victory to the enemy, filling his heart with joy, his ranks with men, and his magazines with voluntary contributions. Take your measures, therefore, circumspectly; make a good use of your engineers and other experienced staff officers and generals, and attempt nothing without a clear prospect of success.” This was good instruction and most sensible advice; good or bad I was to obey, and I did so.

On the 13th of June the general-in-chief sent me two communications.— (Appendix Nos. 6 and 7.) In one I was informed “that Ben McCullough had two regiments of sharpshooters coming from Texas, and that he was now on the spot preparing to meet my column, and then to fall back to Harper’s Ferry.” In the other I was told ” that, on the supposition I would cross the river Monday or Tuesday next, Brigadier General McDowell would be instructed to make a demonstration from Alexandria in the direction of Manassas Junction one or two days before.”

I know not what induced this supposition. On the seventh I had written to General Scott, (Appendix No. 8,) ” that I desired in a few days to occupy the roads beyond Hagerstown and to establish my headquarters in that town, and to intrench my left flank on the Boonsboro’ road, placing there the force with which I can threaten the Maryland Heights, and, should a favorable occasion offer, storm them.”

I was therefore surprised at the suggestion, as I had said nothing about crossing the river, and had neither men nor guns sufficient for the purpose. But knowing and appreciating the great experience, skill, and sagacity of my commander, I promptly adopted measures to carry it out.

On the fifteenth I reached Hagerstown, and on the 16th two-thirds of my forces had crossed the Potomac. The promised demonstration by General McDowell in the direction of Manassas Junction was not made. On the same day, only three days after I had been told I was expected to cross, and when a large portion of my command had crossed, I received three telegrams from the general-in-chief.—(Appendix Nos. 9, 10, and 11.) The first says: “Send to me at once, all the regular troops, horse and foot with you, and the Rhode Island regiment.” The second says: “You are strong enough without the regulars with you—are most needed here; send them and the Rhode Island regiment as fast as disengaged. Keep within the above limits until you can satisfy me you ought to go beyond them.” The third is as follows: “You tell me you arrived last night at Hagerstown, and McClellan writes you are checked at Harper’s Ferry. Where are you?” On the twelfth I had informed the general (Appendix No 12) that “I regretted my command was not in condition and sufficiently strong in facing a powerful foe to detach at present a force towards Cumberland,” and “respectfully suggested that two regiments at least, if they could be devoted to that purpose, be designated to protect the road in the rear and permit Colonel Wallace to approach.”

In a letter dated 16th June (Appendix, No. 13) I informed the general that “to-day and to-morrow about 9,000 men cross to Virginia,” and submitted my desire, “first, to transfer to Harper’s Ferry my base of operations, depots, headquarters, &c.; second, to open and maintain free communication, east and west, along the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad; third, to hold at Harper’s Ferry, Martinsburg, and Charlestown a strong force, gradually and securely advancing as they are prepared, portions towards Winchester, &c.; fourth, to re-enforce Cumberland and move north to Romney, Morehead, &c., and operate with the column in the third proposition towards Woodstock, and cut off all communications with the west. We will thus force the enemy to retire, and recover, without a struggle, a conquered country,” &c. I also added that, “if I am permitted to carry out this plan, the Baltimore and Ohio railroad and the canal will be in operation in a week, and a free line of communication to St. Louis be established.”

On the 17th the general-in-chief telegraphed me, (Appendix No. 14:) “We are pressed here; send the troops that I have twice called for without delay.” This was imperative, and the troops were sent, leaving me without a single piece of artillery, the enemy having over twenty guns, and for the time but a single troop of cavalry, not in service over a month—the enemy with a full regiment of cavalry—and with not 10,000 infantry, all raw, the enemy having 15,000 trained infantry. It was a gloomy day and night. But I succeeded in getting my forces over the river again with the loss of only one man.

I refrain from making any comments on these extraordinary orders, except to say that I was mortified and humiliated at having to recross the river without striking a blow.  I knew that my reputation would be seriously damaged by it; the country could not understand or comprehend the meaning of the crossing and recrossing, the marching and countermarching, and that I would be censured without stint for such apparent vacillation and want of purpose. But I loved and honored my commander; I had served under him before, and had never suffered a personal feeling or interest to interfere with my loyalty and duty to him and my country. I knew that he trusted me, and I trusted him, confident that in his own time and in his own way he would put me right before the army and country.  Meanwhile I would bear the odium unjustly cast upon me, and not throw it on others.

On the 20th of June the general-in-chief asked me, (Appendix No. 15,) “without delay to propose to him a plan of operations.” On the 21st I gave him one, (Appendix No. 16,) proposing, “first, to occupy the Maryland Heights with a brigade, (2,100 men,) fortify and arm with Doubleday’s artillery, provision for twenty days, to secure against investment; second, to move all supplies to Frederick, and immediately thereafter abandon this line of operations, threatening with a force to open a route through Harper’s Ferry, this force to be the sustaining one for the command on Maryland Heights; third, to send everything else available, horse, foot, and artillery, to cross the Potomac near the Point of Rocks, and unite with Colonel Stone at Leesburg; from that point I can operate as circumstances demand and your orders require.”

Had this plan been adopted, the army of General McDowell and my own would have been precisely where they ought to have been. I would have been in a position to have aided General McDowell; to have taken and torn up, if I could not have held, a portion of “the railroad leading from Manassas to the valley of Virginia.” This would not only have destroyed “the communications between the forces under Beauregard and those under Johnston,” but it would have prevented either from throwing large re-enforcements to the other when assailed. And if I could not prevent Johnston from joining Beauregard, which I certainly could not do while stationed anywhere between Williamsport and Winchester, I could have joined McDowell in the attack on Manassas, and assailed and turned the enemy’s left. Had my suggestions been adopted, the battle of Bull Run might have been a victory instead of a defeat.

On the 23d of June I informed the general-in-chief (App. No. 17) that deserters ” were coming in daily, and all agreed in saying that the whole of the force originally at Harper’s Ferry, said to be 25,000 men, is still between Williamsport and Winchester;” that the advance of the enemy was approaching Falling Waters, the remainder in a semicircle, all within four hours of the advance. I added, “that this force might soon annoy me; if so, I would not avoid the contest they may invite.”

On the 25th I was directed (App. No. 18) to “remain in front of the enemy while he continued in force between Winchester and the Potomac; if his superior or equal in force, I might cross and offer him battle.” On the 27th General Scott informed me (App. No. 19) that “he had expected I was crossing the river that day in pursuit of the enemy.” What could have induced this expectation it would have been difficult to imagine. On the 4th of June the general-in-chief had told me that “a battery of artillery and some regular infantry to be added to my force was indispensable,” and both had been taken away. On the 8th of June he had told me I must “attempt nothing without a clear prospect of success.” And on the 16th he had told me to “keep within the above limits until I could satisfy the general-in-chief that I ought to go beyond them.” It is true Major Doubleday had three siege guns, movable only in favorable ground, and that Captain Perkins had six field guns, not rifled; but they could not be moved, as he had no harness, and did not get any until the 29th. Both had asked for rifled guns, and had been informed in letter of the 27th of June (App. No. 20) that “the ordinary guns which have been furnished the battery are considered as sufficiently effective by the general-in-chief.” On the 28th of June I informed the general-in-chief (App. No. 21) that “Captain Newton, of the engineers, a most intelligent and reliable officer, had returned, after two days’ absence, and reported General Johnston to have 15,000 men and twenty to twenty four guns and a large cavalry force, and thinks General Negley, whose brigade is on my left near Sharpsburg, will be attacked, the river being fordable at almost every point.” And I might have added that on the 20th General Cadwalader had reported the enemy as having twenty guns; “they were counted as they passed.” To meet this force of 16,000 men and twenty- two guns, I had but 10,000 volunteer infantry, 650 cavalry and artillery, and six guns; the artillery being nearly all recruits, the horses untrained, and still without harness for the battery. In the same letter I informed General Scott that I had “repeatedly asked for batteries, and ought to have had one for each brigade; that I had neither cavalry nor artillery enough to defend the fords of the river, and that I would not, on my own responsibility, cross the river and attack without artillery a force so much superior in every respect to my own, but would do so cheerfully and promptly if the general-in-chief would give me explicit orders to that effect.” In the same letter I asked for the troops that had “been taken from me, and a number of field guns equal to those of the insurgents,” that I might be enabled ” to choose my point of attack and offer battle to the enemy;” adding that if “the general-in-chief would give me a regiment of regulars and an adequate force of artillery I would cross the river and attack the enemy, unless his force was ascertained to be more than two to one.” No regulars were sent me, and but one field battery of artillery, leaving me greatly inferior in that important arm. The number of my troops has always been overestimated. There were twelve regiments ordered to join me—say, one Delaware and three New Jersey on the 24th of May, two New York regiments on the 30th of May, two Ohio and two northern regiments on the 4th of June, and two Pennsylvania regiments on the 10th of June—but they did not do so. I crossed the Potomac on the 2d of July with less than 11,000 men and six guns, the enemy having 16,000 men, mostly confederate troops, (not State troops,) and twenty to twenty-four guns. My largest force was accumulated at Martinsburg, and they did not exceed 19,000 men. My own estimate of their number was 18,200. When I marched from there I had to leave two regiments, taking about 16,800 men with me; and, deducting from them the sick, the rear and wagon guards, I could not have gone into action at Martinsburg with more than 15,000 men, or at any time after that with more than 13,000; and at the time Johnston marched from Winchester I could not have gone into action with 8,000 men.

On the 26th of June, anxious for the safety of Maryland and the frontiers of Pennsylvania, I had written to Major General McCall as follows:


“Hagerstown, June 26, 1861.

“MY DEAR GENERAL : If I can get permission to go over into Virginia I intend to cross the river and offer battle to the insurgents. As the regulars and Rhode Island regiment and the battery have been taken from me, I will require all the force now here, and must leave the Pennsylvania line unguarded. Please inform me how many men you could throw forward, and how soon.

“Very repectfully and truly yours.”

I will read Major General McCall’s reply:

“HARRISBURG, Sunday, June 30, 1861.

“MY DEAR GENERAL: On my return from Pittsburg, this morning, I find your note of the 26th instant, informing me of your purpose to cross the river and offer battle to the insurgents, and asking what force I can throw forward upon s the Pennsylvania line.

“In reply, I have to say that the only force (one regiment rifles, and one infantry, with a section of artillery) of my command as yet armed and equipped has been pushed forward to the support of Colonel Wallace at Cumberland, and for the protection of our border settlers in that direction; the other regiments are without clothing, arms, or equipments still, notwithstanding my efforts to fit them for the field. You will, therefore perceive how impossible it will be for me, although I much regret it, to comply with your request.

 “With great regard, very truly yours,


It will be seen from the letter of General McCall that with all his efforts he had but two regiments fit for the field, and those two regiments, under Colonels Biddle and Simmons, were then beyond Bedford, “for the support of Colonel Wallace at Cumberland, and for the protection of our border settlers in that direction.” I was thus made responsible for our entire frontier from Cumberland to Edwards’s Ferry, while I had not cavalry or artillery enough to guard the fords between Hancock and Harper’s Ferry.

On the 28th of June I had used, in writing to General Scott, (App. No. 21,) the following emphatic, if not prophetic, language: ” I beg to remind the general-in-chief that the period of service of nearly all the troops here will expire within a month, and that if we do not meet the enemy with them we will be in no condition to do so for three months to come. The new regiments will not be fit for service before September, if then; meanwhile the whole frontier will be exposed.” Why did General Scott delay the; attack on Manassas until the 21st of July?

On the 29th of June the harness for Perkins’s battery arrived, and on the 30th orders were issued (App. No. 22) for a reconnoissance in force to be made early next morning.  The whole army, except camp guards, were to march with two days’ provisions, leaving tents and baggage, and to cross in two columns at Dam No. 4 and Williamsport, hoping thus to get the column crossing at Dam No. 4 in rear of the enemy encamped at Falling Waters, and to capture them; failing in that, to attack and defeat them. The troops were to commence crossing at midnight, but the ford was found impracticable, and after hours of labor and exposure to a severe rain the attempt was abandoned. The troops were then all concentrated at Williamsport, and on the next day, the 2d of July, crossed into Virginia and advanced in two columns. Just beyond Falling Waters the advance brigade of the enemy, 3,500 infantry, with artillery and a large cavalry force, all under General Jackson, were encountered, and after a sharp contest, principally with Colonel Abercrombie’s brigade, was forced back and driven before our troops for several miles, the relative loss of the enemy being very heavy.

On the 3d of July the army under my command entered and took possession of Martinsburg. There I was compelled to halt and send back for supplies, and to wait for Colonel Stone’s command, ordered on the 30th of June to join me—which he did do on the 8th of July—and for more means of transportation, without which it was impossible to advance, having wagons and teams for baggage only, and none for a supply train. The re-enforcements being without wagons only added to my difficulties.

In General McDowell’s report of the battle of Bull Run, he states that “the sending of re-enforcements to General Patterson, by drawing off the wagons, was a further and unavoidable delay.” There is no doubt that the gallant general believed that what he said was true. But it may be as well to inform the committee that the re-enforcements sent from Washington to me amounted to three regiments, under General Sanford; that they came without wagons, and that General Scott informed me I would have “to furnish transportation for them.” Not one wagon, horse, mule, or set of harness was sent from Washington to me. All the transportation I had was furnished under my own orders by the energetic efforts of my efficient deputy quartermaster general, Colonel Crosman.

On the 4th of July I informed the general-in-chief (App. No. 23) that I had halted to bring up supplies; that my transportation was entirely inadequate; that “the terms of the three months volunteers was about to expire, and that they would not, in any number, renew their service, though I thought the offer should be made” to them. I also informed the general-in-chief that General Johnston, with from 15,000 to 18,000 foot, 22 guns, and 650 artillery, were within seven miles of me, my own force consisting of 10,000 foot, 6 guns, and 650 cavalry, in a hostile country, a river in the rear, and not over two days’ supplies.

On the 5th, the general-in-chief informed me (App. No. 24) that he had ordered certain regiments to join me, adding “you will have to provide transportation for them.” These troops were greatly needed, but they increased the difficulty as regarded transportation, which, as the general-in- chief had been informed, was not over half sufficient for the troops then at Martinsburg. On the same day I informed General Scott that large re-enforcements had come in to General Johnston from Manassas, and being much inferior to the enemy in men and guns, I ordered Colonel Stone (App. No. 25) to join my column at the earliest moment.

On the 7th, General Scott informed me (App. No. 26) that he could “not yet say on what day he would attack the enemy in the direction of Manassas Junction; he hoped, however, to be ready before the end of the week.”

On the 8th of July Colonel Stone’s command arrived, and the following orders to advance were immediately issued. The object being to attack the enemy at Winchester:


“Martinsburg, Fa., July 8,1861.

“General Order—Circular.]

“The troops will move to-morrow morning in the following order:

“The 1st (Thomas’s) brigade, with the Rhode Island battery temporarily attached thereto, will advance by the Winchester turnpike, accompanied by one squadron of cavalry.

“The 7th (Stone’s) brigade, with Perkins’s battery attached thereto, will take the main street of the town, by the court-house, and will continue on the road parallel and east of the Winchester turnpike. One company of cavalry will be attached to this command.

“The 1st (Cadwalader’s) division will follow the march of Thomas’s brigade; Doubleday’s battery will advance with this division; one regiment of which will be detailed for its guard, to accompany wherever it may be ordered.

“The 2d (Keim’s) division will pursue both routes, General Negley’s brigade following the march of Colonel Stone, and Colonel Abercrombie’s and Colonel Wynkoop’s that of General Cadwalader..

“The 28th and 19th New York regiments will be temporarily attached to General Keim’s division.

“General Keim will detail a strong rear guard of his division for the wagon train. The rear guard will march on the flanks and rear of the train, and will be re-enforced by a squadron of cavalry. General Keim will detail a competent field officer to command the rear guard.

“The wagons will advance in one train in the rear of the troops, and will be required to keep closed.

“The troops of the several divisions and brigades will keep closed.

“By order, &c.”

About midnight the order was countermanded, as some of the troops that had arrived under Colonel Stone that day were reported so weary and footsore as to be quite unable to endure the fatigue of a further march and be in a condition to fight.

On the next morning, the 9th of July, finding from conversation with some of my officers that the opposition to my plan of advancing upon Winchester, made known by the circular, appeared to be very strong and decided, I was induced, before renewing the order, to call a council of all the division and brigade commanders, the engineer officers, and chiefs of the departments of supply. I submitted to the council my instructions, orders, and the following statement:

“This force was collected originally to retake Harper’s Ferry. That evacuated, it was directed to remain as long as Johnston remained in force in this vicinity. Threatening, as he was, either to move to the aid of the force attacking Washington, or annoying the frontier of Maryland, this army was permitted to cross the Potomac and offer battle. If accepted, so soon as Johnston was defeated, to return and approach Washington.

“The enemy retires, for what? Is it weakness, or a trap? Can we continue to advance and pursue if he retires? If so, how far?  When shall we retire? Our volunteer force will soon dwindle before us, and we may be left without aid. If our men go home without a regular battle, a good field-fight, they will go home discontented, will not re-enlist, and will sour the minds of others. We have a long line to defend, liable at any moment to be cut off from our base and depot, and to a blow on our flank. Our forces must not be defeated, not checked in battle, or meet with reverses. It would be fatal to our cause.

“A force threatens Washington. If we abandon our present position Johnston will be available to aid. The command has been largely re-enforced to enable us to sustain our position, to clear the valley to Winchester, to defeat the enemy if he accepts battle, and to be in position to aid General McDowell, or to move upon Washington, Richmond or elsewhere, as the general-in-chief may direct. General Sanford, with two rifled guns and three regiments, will be up to-morrow. Our force will then be as large as it ever will be, under the prospect of losing a large portion of our force in a few days by expiration of service. What shall be done?”

The result of the deliberation is given in the following minutes, taken at the time by Major Craig Biddle, of the staff:

“Minutes of council of war, held July 9, 1861, at Martinsburg, Va.

“Colonel Crosman, quartermaster, thought 900 wagons would be sufficient to furnish subsistence, and to transport ammunition to our present force. The calculation for the original column was 700 wagons, of which 500 were on hand, and 200 expected. The great difficulty will be to obtain forage for the animals, the present consumption being twenty-six tons daily.

“Captain Beckwith, commissary. The question of subsistence is here a question of transportation. Thus far no reliance has been placed on the adjacent country. A day’s march ahead would compel a resort to it. As far as known those supplies would be quite inadequate.

”Captain Simpson, topographical engineers. The difficulty of our present position arises from the great facility the enemy has to concentrate troops at Winchester from Manassas Junction. By the railroad 12, 000 men could be sent there in a day, and again sent back to Manassas. Our forces should combine with the forces at Washington.

“Captain Newton, engineers. Our present position is a very exposed one. General Johnston can keep us where we are as long as he pleases, and at any time make a ‘demonstration on our rear. Our whole line is a false one. We have no business here, except for the purpose of making a demonstration. He threatens us now. We should be in a position to threaten him. We should go to Charlestown, Harper’s Ferry, Shepherdstown, and flank him.

“Colonel Stone. It is mainly a question for the staff. Our enemy has great facility of movement, and to extend our line would be accompanied with great danger. Johnston should be threatened from some other point. We might leave two regiments here, two guns at Shepherdstown, and proceed to Charlestown, and threaten from that point.

“General Negley, ditto to Captain Newton.

“Colonel Thomas approves of a flank movement to Charlestown.

“Colonel Abercrombie the same.

“General Keim the same.

“General Cadwalader opposed to a forward movement.”

On the day the council was held I wrote to the general-in-chief (App. No. 27) that I was deficient in supply trains; that my difficulties would increase as I advanced. This was the great want of my army; and on the 7th, 12th, 16th, and 21st of June, and the 4th and 5th of July, I had written to General Scott very fully on this subject. I refer to it here to show why I could not move when and where I wished. Colonel Crosman, the efficient quartermaster of my army, had done all that could be done, and more than 1 had supposed could be accomplished; but the troops sent from Washington and elsewhere, with the exception of the Rhode Island regiment, had brought no transportation with them. The enemy, though far superior in number of men and guns, had retired in succession from one position to another. I wrote that “his design evidently was to draw our force on as far as possible from the base, and then to cut our line or to attack with large re-enforcements from Manassas.” In view of all these difficulties, I presented to the general-in-chief a plan by which I “proposed to move my force to Charlestown, establish my depot at Harper’s Ferry, and connect with the Maryland shore by a bridge of boats,” which I had caused to be gathered in a safe place. I also desired to know when the general-in-chief “wished me to approach Winchester, and on what day the attack would be made on Manassas;” and I requested that the general-in-chief would indicate the day, by telegraph thus: “Let me hear from you on ——.”

On the 11th of July I received from the general-in-chief the following telegram:


“Washington, July 11, 1861.

“Major General PATTERSON,

“Martinsburg, Virginia.

“The author of the following ia known, and he believes it authentic :

“WASHINGTON, July 9, 1861.

“The plan of operations of the secession army in Virginia contemplate the reverse of the proceedings and movements announced in the express of yesterday and Saturday. A schedule that has come to light meditates a stand and an engagement by Johnston, when he shall have drawn Patterson sufficiently far back from the river to render impossible his retreat across it on being vanquished, and an advance then by Johnston and Wise conjointly upon McClellan, and after the conquest of him, a march in this direction to unite, in one attack upon the federal forces across the Potomac, with the army under Beauregard at Manassas Junction, and the wing of that army, the South Carolina regiments chiefly, now nine (9) miles from Alexandria. Success in each of these three several movements is anticipated, and thereby not only the possession of the capital is thought to be assured, but an advance of the federal troops upon Richmond prevented.

The plan supposes that this success will give the confederate cause such prestige, and inspire in it such faith, as will insure the recognition of its government abroad, and at the same time so impair confidence in the federal government as to render it impossible for it to procure loans abroad, and very difficult for it to raise means at home. Real retreats, which have been anticipated, it will be seen, are by this plan altogether ignored. According to it, fighting and conquest are the orders”

This paper speaks for itself—comment is needless. Yet one cannot avoid raising the question, how the general-in-chief could ask or expect me to attack General Johnston’s large force of men and guns in their intrenched camp at Winchester in less than a week after he had officially informed me that “a schedule that had come to light meditates a stand and an engagement by Johnston, when he shall have drawn Patterson sufficiently far back from the river to render impossible his retreat across it, after being vanquished.” That this was the plan agreed upon by the confederate generals there is no doubt; and it was a judicious one. Information of a similar kind had come in from various quarters. My most experienced officers of the regular service, with whom I fully and freely consulted—Colonels George H. Thomas, Abercrombie, and Crosman, Major Fitz-John Porter, Captains Newton, Beckwith, and many others, men of long service, merit, and great experience—all concurred in the opinion that I was too far advanced at Martinsburg; that Johnston had fallen back for no other purpose than to lure me on; that Johnston had a trap set somewhere, and that, if not very cautious, I would fall into it. Each of the above-named distinguished officers not only approved warmly of the management of my command, but opposed, both in and out of council, a further advance from Martinsburg. With their opposition to an advance well known, five of the number have since been made brigadier generals.

On the 12th of July, not hearing from the general-in-chief, the substance of my letter of the 9th was repeated by telegraph. The general-in-chief was also informed that I considered “a regiment of regulars, and more if possible, essential to give steadiness to my column, and to carry on active operations against a determined opposition.” The necessity of this will be manifest when it is known that nearly all of Johnston’s army were confederate troops, well disciplined and well commanded. I also stated that “many of my men were barefooted, and could not be employed on active service.” Colonel Menier had reported the 3d Pennsylvania as unable to march for want of shoes.

On the same day, the 12th of July, General Scott telegraphed me, (App. No. 28 :) “Go where you propose in your letter of the 9th instant. Let me hear from you on Tuesday.” That is, “go to Charlestown ; we shall attack Manassas on Tuesday ; I wish you to approach Winchester on that day.” That was our translation of the whole matter.

On Saturday, the 13th of July, General Scott telegraphed me, (App. No. 29 :) “I telegraphed you on yesterday. If not strong enough to beat the enemy early next week, make demonstrations to detain him in the valley of Winchester ; but if he retreats in force towards Manassas, and it would be hazardous to follow him, then consider the route via Keyes’s Ferry, Hillsboro’, and Leesburg.” On the same day I informed General Scott that “Johnston is in position beyond Winchester to be re-enforced, and his strength doubled just as I could reach him ;” and that I “would rather lose the chance of accomplishing something brilliant than by hazarding my column to destroy the fruits of the whole campaign to the country by defeat. If wrong, let me be instructed.”— (App. No. 30.)

This correspondence is very plain. It can hardly be misunderstood by the most obtuse intellect. Any one who can read plain English can comprehend it.  I proposed to my superior to go to Charlestown. I am ordered to do so. In my letter of instructions I am told “there must be no reverse, no check, no drawn battle.” I am told “take your measures circumspectly, and attempt nothing without a clear prospect of success.” These instructions had not been rescinded or modified, and I was bound to obey them. Had I disobeyed and been defeated, as I most certainly would have been— and in this opinion I am sustained by every officer of the regular army serving with me, and, so far as I am informed, by all or nearly all the officers of volunteers—I would have deserved the severe censure which has so unjustly been cast upon me. I preferred the performance of my plain duty to a distinction which could have been gained only by the sacrifice of my men, and with great detriment to the cause in which I was engaged. I informed my commander of the difficulties and dangers of my position, the strength and great advantages of my antagonist, and that I would not, on my own responsibility, hazard my column and the interests of the country by a defeat—asking “if wrong, let me be instructed.” If my superior thought differently, and that an attack should be made, why did he not assume the responsibility of his station and give the order? There was not one person in that column, from myself down to the youngest drum-boy, who would not most cheerfully have gone into battle, knowing that every individual would be killed, if they believed the interest and honor of the country required the sacrifice, or if General Scott had ordered it. Although I asked to be instructed, no instructions were given. I therefore inferred, as my opinions were not overruled, that I was right, especially as I was actually ordered to go to Charlestown.

On the 14th I informed General Scott (App. No. 31) that on the morrow I would advance to Bunker Hill preparatory to the other movement—that is, preparatory to going to Charlestown. “If an opportunity offers, I will attack, but unless I can rout I will be careful.” General Scott was therefore thoroughly informed of what I was doing and intended to do one week before the battle of Manassas.

On Monday, the 15th, leaving two regiments—one being unable to march for want of shoes—to guard Martinsburg, I marched with the remainder of my army to Bunker Hill, forcing the enemy’s cavalry before me, killing one and taking some prisoners.

On Tuesday, the 16th, the day General Scott said he was going to attack Manassas, and desired a demonstration, a reconnoissance in force was made, driving the enemy’s pickets into Winchester. This, with a loss on the part of the enemy of several killed and wounded, was reported the same day to the general-in-chief, who was informed (App. No. 32) that the reconnoissance found the road from Bunker Hill to Winchester  “blocked by fallen trees and fences placed across it.” And “a sketch of the works of defence, prepared by Captain Simpson,”a very reliable officer, was sent him. This sketch showed that the works erected and the guns mounted were of the most formidable character. The general-in-chief was also informed on the same day that on “to-morrow we would move to Charlestown;” that preparations had already “been commenced to occupy and hold Harper’s Ferry; that the time of a large number of the men would expire s that week, and they would not remain;” and “that after securing Harper’s Ferry I would, if the general-in-chief desired, advance with the remainder of my troops via Leesburg, and desired to be informed if this proposition met with the approval of the general-in-chief.” From this it will be seen that I did all that I was ordered to do, and at least as much, if not a great deal more, than any one had a right to expect.

On Tuesday, the 16th, according to General Scott’s promise, Manassas was to be attacked. I expected, and had a right to expect, that as I had performed my part in delaying Johnston in Winchester, General Scott would have performed his, and assail Manassas. If anything had occurred to render the attack on Manassas inexpedient on that day, then General Scott should have informed me and directed me to continue my demonstrations, which could have been done just as easily from Charlestown as from Martinsburg; or he should have given me the order to march at once with all my force to Leesburg, as suggested by me, and delayed the attack on Manassas until I had arrived and been joined in the battle. The neglect or omission to do either is inexplicable. I kept General Scott well informed of all my movements. It was due to me, and necessary for the success of our armies, that I should have been equally well informed of the movements of corps with which it was expected I should co-operate.

On the 17th of July I again informed General Scott (App. No. 33) that the “term of 18 of my 26 regiments would expire within seven days, commencing to-morrow;” that “I could rely on none of them renewing their service;” and “that I must be at once provided with efficient three years men, or withdraw entirely to Harper’s Ferry.” Here was direct information that I could not hold Johnston, and that unless troops were sent me to take the place of those whose time was up, I could not even remain at Charlestown, but would have to fall back to Harper’s Ferry. If troops could not be spared to re-enforce me, why was I not then ordered with my entire command to march to Leesburg and unite with McDowell in the assault on Manassas?

[At the request of the witness, the further examination was postponed until to-morrow.]

JCCW – Gen. Louis Blenker

18 06 2009

Testimony of Gen. Louis Blenker

Report on the Conduct of the War, Vol. 2, pp. 75-77

WASHINGTON, January 6, 1862

General Louis BLENKER sworn and examined.

By the chairman:

Question. Were you at the Bull Run fight?

Answer. Not a great fighter, but I did what I could. I was present from the first until the last hour.

Question. To what do you attribute the defeat of that day particularly?

Answer. My idea is that the general-in-chief, General McDowell—an honorable officer, a very well-educated officer—at that time had not prepared enough his staff officers, and all the other plans were spoiled by the baggage wagons which he had ordered to be there not coming as he ordered. The whole trouble was in going in so risky a way that any general—even the greatest in the world—would be beaten that day, if the enemy was strongest. But the enemy were losing a great deal more than we. They were retreating. But still I do not think it is a blame for anybody to lose that battle. It was a panic, all at once. There was a panic which nobody can explain. The colonels there, a great many of them, never have a command. They look around and say: What shall we do? That is strange music—the bullet—and strange feeling to be killed. But what to do is the question. They are running. Some begin to retreat, and it is not possible to give orders to keep them together. If one regiment runs, the others go too. That has been the case in every army— French army, Austrian army, and every good army in the world. I would not blame any officer for that. The regiment I had three times ordered, was ordered to retreat; and then I see I can do a little more if I stay. And then I think I advance two miles further against the enemy. I see the spirit was good in my troops. I see a great deal there that I shall never forget in my life. It is the most interesting matter for me, indeed, in my military experience—that battle. I never had a chance to study a great deal. I am only a brigade officer, but if the moment comes I know what to do. The enemy only risk a little attack of cavalry, and if that was a good attack they would go further. But General McDowell, he was so much hurt that I feel the greatest sympathy for him to-day. I would not allow anybody to blame him to-day. He was not assisted enough. I was, in the evening, at the council where the plan was discussed. Of course Colonel Miles was in the best spirits with him, and he said: “We have but little anxiety to be in the reserve.” But the general said: “‘Colonel, you can be sure there is great danger if we do not have that reserve there, and so we make our preparations.” The next day they fight; and the orderly came with the message that the battle is lost. There were a great many around me, and it would have curious effect. They asked: “What is the matter?” I said, we are victorious. And they hurra. At once I make my preparation for an advance. After one mile we pass the troops retreating. My troops said: “What the devil is that?” I said, it is a mistake; go on. Not even my adjutant understand what I want. So I went to the front, and we make a good effect, because the enemy could see us. That was all I wanted at that time. I never expected to see anything else. I do not speak good enough English to express myself. But if the time comes I hope I may make good the honor conferred upon me.

Question. You understood, I suppose, at that time, the position of Patterson and Johnston to be about Winchester?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Was it understood by you on the field that Patterson was to engage Johnston, or to prevent his going down to that battle?

Answer. I am very much informed now, because I had a conversation with General Sanford, who was with General Patterson’s division.

Question. What did you understand about the matter on that day?

Answer. I knew it just the same as General Sanford told me from what I have seen in the papers.

Question. What I mean is, not what General Sanford or the papers have said, but what was the understanding on the battle-field when you had the council?

Answer. The understanding was that Johnston was to be kept back there; there is no doubt that is so, and every one who knows anything about the operations would know that Johnston should never have had the chance to come to Manassas.

Question. Had Patterson held Johnston back, what would have been the result at Manassas?

Answer. There is no doubt we should have taken Manassas, because they were so much knocked down that they were just ready in a moment to retreat; both parties retreated. And because we are not a despotic educated army, we are here a peaceful nation, and we could not do better at first; but we will repair that the next time.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. Your division was stationed at Centreville?

Answer. My brigade was, under the division of Colonel Miles.

Question. Was that a reserve stationed at Centreville, because it was necessary that that point should be protected?

Answer. It was both. It was stationed there as a reserve for the army engaged in the battle, and at the same time we made our position stronger, so that we should not be flanked by the right wing of the enemy. First, we were to be in reserve ready, for if we were not there they would come straight down to Alexandria and Washington.

Question. You would not have considered it a good plan for the commander- in-chief not to have left any force at Centreville on that day?

Answer. No commander-in-chief would do that.

Question. That was a point it was necessary to protect?

Answer. Necessary for all eventualities, and for all circumstances; that was the point.

Question. That force was only to be moved forward from that point in case it should be absolutely necessary to support the army already on the field?

Answer. Exactly; it was a reserve to be ready if they were called on, or be careful that no enemy should flank us; that is a disposition which must be taken under such circumstances.

By the chairman:

Question. We have had some testimony in relation to the condition of Colonel Miles that day, and I deem it but justice to him, as you were there and must know his condition, to ask you what was the condition of Colonel Miles that day, whether he was intoxicated at all, or partially so, or not?

Answer. I will tell you as a man of honor. Every word I say is truth and fact. I was with him the whole day till about two or three o’clock. There was nothing like intoxication. He took, once in awhile, a drop. Never mind, that is nothing. I never saw him intoxicated. From that time he was out observing. When I received that message that the battle was lost, I was the first man who sent an officer of the general staff to report to Washington, and I told him I would go right away with my brigade. He took my hand and said: ” Go and die on the ground.” I go then. The whole question about his intoxication was in the evening about five or six or seven o’clock. I did not see him then; but if I had seen him I would just as soon say he was drunk as to say he was not.

Question. Then I understand you to say that you saw him during the day down to three o’clock?

Answer. Yes, sir; and then he was in a fit condition to give every order as an officer, when I saw him last.

Question. What time was that?

Answer. Between three and four o’clock, or a little earlier, perhaps.

JCCW – Gen. Charles P. Stone

17 06 2009

Testimony of Gen. Charles P. Stone

Report on the Conduct of the War, Vol. 2, pp. 73-75

WASHINGTON, January 5, 1862

General CHARLES P. STONE sworn and examined.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question. Were you present with General Patterson’s army, or near it, on or about the 20th of July last?

Answer. I was.

Question. Were you with him on his march from Martinsburg?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. In what capacity?

Answer. I commanded a brigade in that column for a part of the month of July.

Question. And you were with that column when it marched towards Johnston’s army?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Will you explain to the committee the march and position of that column until it reached Bunker Hill? Explain it concisely, if you please.

Answer. Bunker Hill is on the road to Winchester. General Patterson’s column was concentrated at Martinsburg.

Question. And Johnston was at Winchester?

Answer. Supposed to be at Winchester.

Question. Give the date on which you started, and how far you went; explain the action of that column, not in detail, but in general.

Answer. So much has happened between that time and this that it is difficult for me to remember all the dates. We arrived at Harper’s Ferry on the 21st of July, the day of the battle of Bull Run.

Question. That is, on your retreat.

Answer. On our return.

Question. Assume that it was Tuesday or Wednesday when you left Bunker Hill.

Answer. Without giving the date of leaving Martinsburg, we made a march in one day as far as Mill Creek, or, as I believe it is now called, Bunker Hill. We remained there, I think, over one day. I remember being one day there. Then we moved in one day’s march from Bunker Hill, through Middleway, otherwise called Smithfield, to Charlestown. I think we arrived at Charlestown on Wednesday afternoon, and then remained there until the following Sunday, when we marched to Bolivar Heights.

Question. When you were at Martinsburg you were threatening Johnston’s force at Winchester, were you not?

Answer. I should think so.

Question. And when you reached Bunker Hill you threatened it still more?

Answer. I think so.

Question. Had you intrenched and remained at Bunker Hill, would not your close proximity have prevented Johnston from weakening his force at Winchester?

Answer. I do not think it would; I think it was so important a move for him to come down to Manassas that he would have abandoned every house and woman and child in Winchester for the sake of joining the other column.

Question. Could you not then have pursued him—you were within seven or eight miles—and compelled him to give battle before he struck the railroad?

Answer. I think so.

Question. Or, if General Patterson had thrown his force down between Johnston and the railroad, he would then have had to come out and give you battle, or else remain where he was?

Answer. If that had been done, yes, sir.

Question. Did you consider his force so strong that it was unsafe to retain your position at Bunker Hill, or take up that position between him and the railroad?

Answer. I certainly did not conceive that his force was so strong as to make it unsafe for us to intrench at Bunker Hill?

By the chairman:

Question. Do you know the reason why Patterson turned off from Bunker Hill to Charlestown?

Answer. At the time I supposed the object was to get on Johnston’s right flank.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question. But he actually went twenty odd miles from his right or left flank?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Leaving the road perfectly open to go where he saw fit?

Answer. Yes, sir; I think so.

Question. Was it in contemplation by you at one time to have gone out and cut that railroad?

The witness: From the place below, before I came under General Patterson’s command?

Mr. Chandler : Yes, sir.

Answer. I wanted to do it.

Question. And had you done it, it would have been impossible for Johnston to have got his forces down here, would it not?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Did you receive peremptory orders from General Patterson to join him at once?

Answer. I did.

Question. Do you know when, or if at all, General Patterson sent a request to Washington to have re-enforcements sent up to him?

Answer. I do not know.

By the chairman:

Question. I wish to know of you, as a military man, whether, if it had been the object and purpose of Patterson to encounter Johnston and prevent him from going down to Manassas on that road, you think he could have employed him so as to have had a battle with him? Was the position such that he could have forced him to an engagement?

Answer. I think he could have forced him to give battle.

Question. I mean if he had been ordered to prevent Johnston from going to Manassas. He was in a position to have done that by an engagement, was he not? You know the position of the two armies when you approached the nearest, when you turned off to Charlestown.

Answer. I think he was in a position at one time when he might either have brought Johnston to battle, or have joined General McDowell about as soon as Johnston could have joined the other side.

Question. What position was that when you suppose it was in his power to have effected that?

Answer. At Martinsburg.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question. Was he not in the same position at Bunker Hill?

Answer. I think he might have made a move there; but that is only a military opinion.

By the chairman:

Question. That is all we want.

Answer. I think he might have moved then, so as to have taken possession of the gaps of the Blue Ridge at least.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question. And had he taken possession of the gaps of the Blue Ridge, it would have been very difficult for Johnston to have dislodged him, would it not?

Answer. I think so; I thought so then.

By Mr. Odell:

Question. Did you understand, while you were there, that the object of Patterson’s division was to hold Johnston in check, and prevent him from joining Beauregard? We know from testimony that we have here that that was the object. I want to know if it was known to you while there?

Answer. Let me get your question exactly.

Question. The question is this: Was it your understanding that Patterson’s division of the army was to hold Johnston there, while General McDowell was engaged with Beauregard here?

Answer. I certainly thought that was the intention.

By Mr. Chandler s

Question. What was your estimate of the relative strength of Patterson’s and Johnston’s forces?

Answer. The best information I got of Johnston’s forces was that he had about 14,000 in the neighborhood of Harper’s Ferry. That was when I was on the river below.

Question. I mean when you were at Martinsburg and he was at Winchester?

Answer. I had lost there my independent means of getting information of him. The information I received there was through the reconnoissances ordered by General Patterson. That was very varied, indeed. Sometimes you would hear that he had 15,000, sometimes 22,000, sometimes 30,000.

Question. What was your own estimate, if you had any, of their force?

Answer. I imagined that he had not far from 20,000 men, including his militia.

Question. And your force was about 22,000. Was it not?

Answer. I do not know what General Patterson’s force was. I heard various estimates of that.


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