Col. Dixon Miles, 5th Division, Defends His Actions

14 09 2020

RICHARDSON VS. MILES.

Col. Richardson, of the Federal Army, in his report of the late battles, reiterates the charge of drunkenness against Col. Dixson S. Miles, of the same army. The latter replies as follows, through the Washington Star:

Will you please give place in your columns to a short replay from an old soldier in correction of Col. Richardson’s report as published in this morning’s Sun. Perhaps no one has ever before been hunted with more assiduous, malicious vituperation and falsehood, since the battle of Bull Run, than myself. My name, I have been told, has been a bye-word in the streets of Washington and its bar-rooms for everything derogatory to my character. It was stated I had deserted to the enemy; I was a traitor, being from Maryland; a sympathizer; gave the order to retreat; was in arrest; and now, by Col Richardson’s report, drunk.

I will not copy Richardson’s report, but correct the errors he has committed, leaving to his future days a remorse he may feel t the irreparable injury he has inflicted on an old brother officer.

The order for retreat from Blackburn’s Ford, as communicated by my staff officer, emanated from Gen. McDowell, who directed two of my brigades to march on the Warrenton road as far as the bridge on Cub creek. I sent my Adjutant General, Captain Vincent, to bring up Davies’ and Richardson’s brigades, while I gave the order for Blenker’s brigade at Centreville to proceed down the Warrenton road. I accompanied these troops a part of the way, endeavoring to collect and halt the routed soldiers. I returned to Centreville heights as Col. Richardson, with his brigade, was coming into line of battle facing Blackburn’s Ford. His position was well chosen, and I turned my attention to the pacing of Davies’ brigade and the batteries. A part of Davies’ command was placed in echellon of regiments behind fences, in support of Richardson; another portion in reserve, in support of Hunt’s and Titball’s batteries.

After completing these arrangements, I returned to Blenker’s brigade, now near a mile from Centreville heights, took a regiment to cover Green’s battery, and returned to the heights. When I arrived there, just before dusk, I found all my previous arrangements of defence had been changed, not could I ascertain who had ordered it, for General McDowell was not on the field. Col. Richardson was the first person I spoke to after passing Captain Fry; he was leading his regiment into line of battle on the crest of the hill, and directly in the way of the batteries in rear. = It was here the conversation between the Colonel and myself took place which he alludes to in his report. Gen. McDowell just afterwards came on the field, and I appealed earnestly to him to permit me to command my division, and protested against the faulty disposition of the troops to resist an attack. – He replied by taking command himself and relieving me.

Col. Richardson states a conversation with Lt. Col. Stevens, of his command. I never say Col. Stevens, to my knowledge. I never gave him, or any one, the order to deploy his column; the order must have emanated from some one else, and hence my misfortune; for on his impression that I was drunk, those not immediately connected with me rung it over the field, without inquiry or investigation. – This is all that is proper for me to say at this time, as I have called for a court to investigate the whole transaction. Those who have read Richardson’s report will confer a favor to compare this statement with it; the discrepancies are glaring – the errors by deductions apparent.

D. S. Miles,
Colonel Second Infantry.

Richmond (VA) Dispatch, 8/6/1861

Clipping image





Dixon Miles’s Petition for Court of Inquiry

28 11 2014

Exhibit “A”

Head Quarters 2nd U. S. Inf.
Camp South of Alexandria, Va.
26: July 1861 –

Sir.
The commandg. Genl. Dept. N. E. Virg. not having taken any action in my case (so far as I know) and having by sickness been prevented from giving any personal attention to it: I now most respectfully solicit from the Executive of the United States, or Lieut. General commander-in-chief of the Army, to grant me a Court of Inquiry, to investigate the charge of “Drunkeness,” publicly made against me on the heights of Centerville Va. about 7 O’clock P. M. on the 21st Inst. by Col. Richardson commanding a brigade attached to my command, and on which false accusation the Brgd. Genl. commandg. did me the injustice to relieve me in command of my Division.

I am Sir,
Very respectfully Your Obt. Servt.
D. S. Miles
Col. 2d. Inf.

To
Capt. J. B. Fry
Asst. Adjt. Genl.
Hd Qr Dept. N. E. V. Arlington –

Document Image

M1105, Registers of the Records of the Proceedings of the U.S. Army General Courts-Martial, 1809-1890
Colonel Dixon S. Miles, 2nd US Infantry (August 1861), Washington, DC. Court-Martial Case File #II-498 pertaining to the Court of Inquiry for the Battle of 1st Bull Run





Dixon Miles Court of Inquiry News

26 11 2014

Friend Jim Rosebrock, host of the blog South from the North Woods, on a recent trip to the National Archives was kind enough to photograph the contents of the file containing the documents associated with the Dixon Miles First Bull Run Court of Inquiry. Late in the day on July 21, 1861, Colonel Israel B. Richardson leveled a charge of drunkenness at Miles, to whose division Richardson’s brigade had been temporarily attached. This charge resulted in Irvin McDowell removing Miles from command, and at Miles’s request the Court of Inquiry was later convened.

I now have over 150 images of handwritten documents to transcribe, the bulk of which are of witness testimony. As far as I know, this file has never appeared in print or digital format, so we’re breaking new ground here. Long ago I posted the summary of the court’s finding here, and this is the index page I’ll be using for all the documents. Below is a taste of what I have to work with – thankfully the penmanship is not generally this poor (click for a larger image.)

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