Doc. 60 1/2.-Gen. Schenck's defence.
camp Upton, Va., Tuesday, June 25, 1861.I find in the telegrams of the 22d inst., the following “special despatch:” “A strict examination of the causes of the lamentable affair at Vienna, has resulted in the exculpation of the engineer of the train which took up the Ohio troops. The responsibility of the blunder which resulted so disastrously for our troops, rests upon Gen. Schenck.” Now that you have published the above, will you do Gen. Schenck the justice to publish also this communication? I was at the time acting aid to Gen. Schenck, and at his side both upon and during the action, and have full knowledge, therefore, of every order given. The First Ohio Regiment were taken on a train furnished by Gen. McDowell, and pursuant to his orders. Six companies were left at different points along the line of the Loudon and Hampshire Railroad. The four remaining companies were to be stationed at Vienna. This same train had only the day before been at Vienna — not at Vienna alone, but three miles beyond — with Gen. Tyler and staff, who reported “no evidence of troops in that neighborhood.” It is true that some one told Gen. Schenck that some other man had heard that somebody had said that there had been 700 rebels at or near Vienna. He had no foundation on which to base even a delay of so important a move, let alone to disobey his orders. An officer, in the command of a post in the enemy's country, soon learns to appreciate wild rumors. When within a mile of the village, the train was ordered to proceed cautiously, and Major Hughes, with the General's field-glass, was placed as the lookout on the forward car. The battery being masked by bushes, was not discovered until the moment it opened fire. The train was almost instantly stopped. The General first ordered me to have the train drawn out of range. I immediately went to the platform next the engine, which was in the rear, followed by the General himself, who repeated his order after me. The engineer, who was much excited and in evident fear, stammered out that the brakes were down, and he could not move. I at once unloosed the brakes on the platform where we stood, ran back and unwound that of the car next behind, and gave orders to leave all the rest done. I then went back and informed the engineer of the fact. Meanwhile, some one uncoupled the first car with the engine and tender, from the rest of the train. The General then gave special orders to the engineer to move a short distance down the road, and there await us. He at once started off as quick and fast as he could, and ran, as we were informed by parties along the road, “as if the devil were after him,” to Alexandria, where he probably yet remains. By taking off in this manner the one car, he deprived us of all means of sending for reenforcements, or of carrying our wounded back to camp, except laboriously and painfully in blankets. The case of surgical instruments which our surgeon, who was with us all the time, had placed in charge of an attendant on the cars, was carried off, and nothing could be done for the poor sufferers until next morning. The men who were present, and, in fact, all the officers and men of the brigade attach no blame to General Schenck, who only obeyed special orders from Headquarters, and, so far from abusing, they all praise his coolness under fire, his judgment and officer-like conduct in rallying and forming his men on either side of the road. No officer could have obeyed his instructions better, and no man could have done more to retrieve the disaster, and save his command from utter annihilation. This statement is not made to shield any one, or to throw blame where it does not belong; but being present, and possessed of facts which probably but few have knowledge of, I Write the above to render justice where justice is due.
Wm. H. Raynor, First Lieutenant, Co. G, Second Regiment O. V. M.