Testimony of Dr. Ira Tripp
Report on the Conduct of the War, Vol. 2, pp. 226-228
WASHINGTON, February 26, 1862.
Dr. IRA TRIPP sworn and examined.
By Mr. Covode:
Question. What has been your connexion with the army?
Answer. My position was hospital steward.
Question. In the three months’ service?
Answer. Yes, sir; under General Patterson, in the 8th Pennsylvania regiment. I was taken prisoner on the 2d of July, near Falling Waters.
Question. Well, go on and state about that.
Answer. We were captured near Falling Waters on the second day of July, and taken to Martinsburg that day. There our horses were taken away from us.
Question. By whom?
Answer. By a rebel captain; I forget his name now. That evening we were taken about three miles beyond Martinsburg, and encamped there during the night.
Question. What force had the enemy at that time?
Answer. As near as we could judge, Johnston had about 5,000 men at that time. We were with them but one day there. The next day we were taken to Winchester, where they had about 2,000 more troops, as near as we could ascertain, making their entire force at that time about 7,000.
Question. What day were you taken to Winchester?
Answer. The 4th of July.
Question. What was done with you there?
Answer. We were kept in jail there two weeks.
Question. How many of you were there?
Answer. I think there were 45. During that time the enemy received re-enforcements of men, varying from perhaps a regiment down to a company, coming into Winchester at different times during the two weeks we were there. As near as we could calculate, their re-enforcements might amount in all to 5,000 or 6,000 men.
Question. Do you know from what direction these re-enforcements came?
Answer. I should judge, from the way they came into Winchester, that they were from Strasburg and in that direction.
Question. They did not come from Manassas?
Answer. No, sir; I do not think any of them came from Manassas.
Question. What was the condition of their fortifications at Winchester at the time you went there?
Answer. They were very light. They fortified a little, not a great deal, during the time we were there. After we had been there about a week, some of our men were taken out to the fortifications and made to work to try to mount a gun, as they told us when they came back. That was the only gun they saw; they saw some little intrenchments on each side of the road, not to exceed twenty rods altogether.
Answer. No, sir; not rifle-pits. They had some empty barrels there and a trench thrown up. There was no fortification of any strength at that time.
Question. You only knew of one gun there?
Answer. That was all at that time—one large gun; they had some seven or eight pieces of light artillery that we saw. They got a few after that—some four or five that we saw come in. They never had at the outside over 13,000 men at Winchester, I think, before the battle of Bull Run.
Question. Would there, in your judgment, have been any difficulty in Patterson’s taking Winchester?
Answer. No, sir; not at all. I do not think there would have been any trouble in his doing it.
Question. Did they appear to expect an attack from Patterson?
Answer. Yes, sir; daily.
Question. What do you know of any preparation to leave in case of an attack?
Answer. We hardly knew of any preparation they had to leave. They expected an attack. We had that from the jailer there and from the officers themselves. A great many of them left the day we did. I have no doubt that they expected that Patterson would come on and take Winchester after their troops left. I judge so from seeing so many going away the day we did; we saw their carriages, &c., on the road to Strasburg.
Question. What day did their army leave?
Answer. On the 18th of July.
Question. What number left?
Answer. As near as we could calculate, about 10,000 men in all left for Manassas.
Question. That would leave how many at Winchester?
Answer. Perhaps 2,000.
Question. Did they all leave at one time?
Answer. They left during the night of the 17th and the morning of the 18th, as near as we could get at it. We left on the 18th.
Question. By what route did they go to Manassas?
Answer. I do not know the route. I am not acquainted with that country. We got to Manassas in the morning on the 19th, about nine o’clock, I should judge.
Question. What time did you leave Winchester?
Answer. At noon of the 18th, in a great hurry.
Question. By what route did you go?
Answer. We went to Strasburg, about eighteen miles from Winchester, and there we took the cars to Manassas.
Question. What did you see of these troops after you left Winchester?
Answer. We saw some of the cavalry at Manassas on the 19th, and saw General Johnston himself there. We knew three of the cavalry, because they were of those who captured us.
Question. How long did you remain at Manassas?
Answer. From nine in the morning until nine or ten o’clock at night.
Question. Do you know whether these troops came into Manassas before you left?
Answer. Only a portion of them. All I know of their being there was seeing a portion of the cavalry and General Johnston himself. There were large re-enforcements coming in that day from the direction of Richmond. That is what I suppose kept us there; we could not get away because the track was occupied by these troops coming in. I should judge that that day and the day following there were 15,000 of re-enforcements from between Manassas and Richmond, coming in from the south on different roads. We had to guess at it, but that is about as near as we could get at it. Heavy trains were coming in constantly all the day long.
Question. Did you, on your way to Winchester, see any strong fortifications anywhere, after you were captured?
Answer. No, sir; we did not see any anywhere. There were no strong fortifications made after that I am certain. I do not think they ever expected to stand a battle at all against Patterson.
Question. Did you, while at Winchester, look for Patterson to come there?
Answer. We looked for him every day. We just as much expected he would come as we were living. We expected to be taken out by our own men or hurried off by the rebels.
Question. Our force was double theirs?
Answer. Yes, sir; nearly so. I calculated that Johnston had not more than 12,000 at the outside. And knowing the difference between the strength of the two armies, we constantly expected Patterson would take the place.
Question. What was the character of the re-enforcements that came into Winchester? Were they well armed and equipped?
Answer. All had arms; not very good arms. They looked like old muskets. Some came in in the night, and we could not tell what they had. Some of them were not very well uniformed, such as we saw. Some had citizens’ clothes on— no uniform at all. They looked like they had just been gathered up right out of the fields, with no uniform at all. There was in the jail yard a big pile of stone that had been pounded up for pavement, and getting on that pile we could see their encampment, and all over the country there.
Question. Did you see any fortifications at Winchester, except the small one at the terminus of the railroad from Charlestown?
Answer. That is all that we saw.