to the same State.
I was instructed to do this, however, only when it might be done safely.1
As the enemy was nearer to our centre than that centre to either flank of the army, and another advance upon us by the Federal
army not improbable on any day, it seemed to me unsafe to make the reorganization then; for it would have exposed the army to the danger of being attacked by the enemy while in the confusion incident to a general change of position by our regiments, when most of them would be unable to take their places in the line of battle.
Although displeased by the delay, the President
did not take from me the discretion as to selection of time, previously given.
While expressing dissatisfaction, he repeated his order in the terms in which it had first been given: to make the reorganization2
when it could be done without exposing the army to danger.
It is asserted in the “Rebellion record,” that, on the 16th of October, General Geary
ascertained that the Eighth Virginia and Thirteenth and Eighteenth Mississippi infantry, and Ashby
's cavalry regiments, were at Harper's Ferry
, and, crossing the Potomac
at that point with ten companies of Federal infantry, attacked, defeated, and drove them off. Ashby
was not under my command, so that I cannot assert that his regiment was not at Harper's Ferry
at the time specified; but the three infantry