Question by the Chairman: I have heard it suggested that he undertook to excuse this movement on the ground that the time of many of his troops had expired, and they refused to accompany him. Answer: That, to my knowledge, is untrue. The time of none of them had expired when this movement was made. All the troops that were there were in the highest condition for the service. These three-months' men, it may he well to state to you who are not military men, were superior to any other volunteer troops that we had, in point of discipline. They were the disciplined troops of the country. The three-months' men were generally the organized troops of the different States--New-York, Pennsylvania, etc. We had, for instance, from Patterson's own city, Philadelphia, one of the finest regiments in the service, which was turned over to me, at their own request; and the most of my regiments were disciplined and organized troops. They were all in fine condition, anxious, zealous, and earnest for a fight. They thought they were going to attack Johnston's camp at Winchester. Although I had suggested to Gen. Patterson that there was no necessity for that, the camp being admirably fortified with many of their heavy guns from Norfolk, I proposed to him to place ourselves between Johnston and the Shenandoah, which would have compelled him to fight us there, or to remain in his camp, either of which would have effected Gen. Scott's object. If I had got into a fight, it was very easy, over this road I had just been opening, for Patterson to have reinforced me and to have come up to the fight in time. The proposition was to place ourselves between Johnston's fortified camp and the Shenandoah, where his fortified camp would have been of no use to him. Question: Even if you had received a check there, it would have prevented his junction with the forces at Manassas? Answer: Yes, sir; I would have risked a battle with my own division rather than Johnston should have escaped. If he had attacked me, I could have taken a position where I could have held it, while Patterson could have fallen upon him and repulsed him. Question by Mr. Odell: Had you any such understanding with Patterson? Answer: I told him I would move down on this side-road in advance, leaving Gen. Patterson to sustain me if I got into a fight. So, on the other hand, if he should attack Patterson, I was near enough to fall upon Johnston's flank and to support Patterson. By using this communication of mine to pass Opequan creek — where, I had informed Patterson, I had already pushed forward my pickets, [200 men in the day and 400 more at night,] to prevent the enemy from burning the bridge — it would have enabled me to get between Johnston and the Shenandoah river. On the morning of our march to Charlestown, Stuart's Cavalry, which figured so vigorously at Bull Run, was upon my flank all day. They were apparently about 800) strong. I saw them constantly on my flank for a number of miles. I could distinguish them, with my glass, with great ease. Finally, they came within about a mile of the line of march I was pursuing, and I sent a battery around to head them off, and the 12th regiment across the fields in double-quick time to take them in the rear. I thought I had got them hemmed in. But they broke down the fences, and went across the country to Winchester, and I saw nothing more of them. They were then about eight miles from Winchester, and must have got there in the course of a couple of hours. That day, at 1 o'clock--as was ascertained from those who saw him crossing the Shenandoah — Johnston started from Winchester with 8,000 men, forded the Shenandoah, and got to Manassas on Friday night; and his second in command started the next day with all the rest of the available troops — something like 9.000 men; leaving only the sick, and a few to guard them, in the camp at Winchester — and they arrived at the battle-field in the midst of the fight, got out of the cars, rushed on the battle-field, and turned the scale. I have no doubt that, if we had intercepted Johnston, as we ought to have done, the battle of Bull Run would have been a victory for us instead of a defeat. Johnston was, undoubtedly, the ablest general they had in their army.1 Patterson remained at Charlestown, idle and useless, until the 22d; when, learning of the disaster at Bull Run,
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1 If any Unionist is curious to see, and has the patience to read, all the excuses which can be trumped up for Patterson's conduct throughout this wretched business, he will find them embodied and skillfully marshaled in Mr. Fitz John Porter's testimony before the Joint Committee [of the XXXVIIth Congress] on the Conduct of the War, vol. II. pp. 152-59. I see nothing therein that essentially contradicts Gen. Sanford's testimony, or is calculated to relieve Gen. Patterson from the grave imputations which that testimony must fix in the breast of every loyal American. All that it seems to establish is a perfect identity of principles, sympathies, and purposes, between Porter and Patterson, with a rare skill in framing excuses on the part of the former.
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