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.