in the action of the thirtieth of August. This small fraction of twenty thousand five hundred men was all of the ninety-one thousand veteran troops from Harrison's Landing which ever drew trigger under my command, or in any way took part in that campaign. By the time that the corps of Franklin and Sumner, nineteen thousand strong, joined me at Centreville, the original army of Virginia, as well as the corps of Heintzelman and the division of Reynolds, had been so much cut up in the severe actions in which they had been engaged, and were so much broken down and diminished in numbers by the constant and excessive duties they had performed, that they were in little condition for any effective service whatever, and required and should have had some days of rest to put them in any thing like condition to perform their duties in the field. Such is the history of a campaign, substantiated by documents written during the operations, and hereto appended, which has been misunderstood to an extent perhaps unparalleled in the history of warfare. I submit it here to the public judgment, with all confidence that it will be fairly and deliberately considered, and a just verdict pronounced upon it, and upon the army engaged in it. Upon such unbiased judgment I am very willing (setting aside any previous record I have made during the war) to rest my reputation as a soldier. I shall submit cheerfully to the verdict of my countrymen; but I desire that that verdict shall be rendered upon a full knowledge of the facts. I well understood, as does every military man, how difficult and how thankless was the duty devolved upon me; and I am not ashamed to say that I would gladly have avoided it if I could have done so consistently with my sense of duty to the Government. To confront with a small army vastly superior forces; to fight battles without hope of victory, but only to gain time, and to embarrass and delay the forward movement of the enemy, is of all duties the most hazardous and the most difficult which can be imposed upon any general or any army. While such operations required the highest courage and endurance on the part of the troops, they are perhaps unlikely to be understood or appreciated, and the results, however successful, have little in them to attract popular attention and applause. At no time could I have hoped to fight a successful battle with the immensely superior force of the enemy which confronted me, and which was able at any time to outflank me and bear my small army to the dust. It was only by constant movement, by incessant watchfulness and hazardous skirmishes and battles that the forces under my command were not overwhelmed, while at the same time the enemy was embarrassed and delayed in his advance upon Washington until the forces from the Peninsula were at length assembled for the defence of the city. I did hope that, in the course of these operations, the enemy might commit some imprudence or leave some opening, of which I could take such advantage as to gain, at least, a partial victory over his forces. This opportunity was presented by the advance of Jackson upon Manassas Junction; but, although the best dispositions possible, under the circumstances, were ordered, the object was frustrated in a manner and by causes which are now well understood. I am gratified that the conduct of that campaign, every detail of which was communicated, day by day, to the General-in-Chief, was fully approved by him and by the Government, and I now gladly submit the subject to the judgment of the country. Gen. Banks rendered most efficient and faithful service throughout the campaign, and his conduct at the battle of Cedar Mountain, and the operations on the Upper Rappahannock, was marked by great coolness, intrepidity, and zeal. Gen. McDowell led his corps during the whole of the campaign with ability and vigor, and I am greatly indebted to him for zealous and distinguished service both in the battle of the twenty-ninth and thirtieth August and in the operations which preceded and succeeded those battles. Gen. Sigel rendered useful service in reorganizing and putting in condition the First army corps of the army of Virginia, and made many valuable and highly important reconnoissances during the operations of the campaign. I cannot express myself too highly of the zealous, gallant, and cheerful manner in which Gen. Reno deported himself from the beginning to the end of the operations. Ever prompt, earnest, and soldierly, he was the model of an accomplished soldier and a gallant gentleman, and his loss has been a heavy blow to the army and to the country. Gen. Heintzelman performed his duty faithfully and honestly, while the commanders of the divisions of his corps (Gens. Kearny and Hooker) have that place in the public estimation which they have earned by many gallant and heroic actions, and which renders it unnecessary for me to do aught except pay this tribute to the memory of one and to the rising fame of the other. Gens. Williams, Augur, Crawford, Green, Geary, Carroll, and Prince, of Banks's corps, have been already noticed for their gallant and distinguished conduct at Cedar Mountain. Generals King and Ricketts, of McDowell's corps, led their divisions throughout the operations with skill and efficiency, and General King, before he marched from Fredericksburgh, rendered important service in organizing and despatching the expeditions which on several occasions broke up the line of the Virginia and Central Railroad. Gens. Patrick, Doubleday, Gibbon, Hartsuff, Duryea, and Tower commanded their brigades in the various operations of this campaign with ability and zeal. The last-named officer especially was particularly distinguished by the long marches which he made, by his untiring activity, and by the disguished gallantry he displayed in the action of the thirtieth of August, in which action he was severely wounded at the head of his brigade. Gen. Hatch, after being relieved from the command of the cavalry of Banks's corps, was assigned to the command of an infantry brigade in
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.