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[471] took me no further than Winchester. I was fully informed of the orders that had been sent to Captain Ratcliffe to fall back on Winchester, and of the plan by which the men and stores at Mount Sterling were to be protected.

When called on to act in direct violation of the General's plan, I determined not to do it, until I was fully satisfied, by the report of my patrols, that I had no work on hand near my own post. I marched on the instant my patrols reported, and marched as rapidly as was consistent with the object of my having horses fit for service when I came up with the enemy.

I am not able to perceive that there was any fault in the plans of the General, or any neglect in issuing and delivering the orders necessary to carry them out; nor am I able to perceive either common-sense or military propriety in these attempts to shield Captain Radcliffe from responsibility for the manifest consequences of his disobedience of the General's orders. The habitual vice of the press is loose abuse of commanding officers, and ignorant criticism of military movements.

My regiment has taken an honorable part in all the expeditions after Cluke, and I therefore feel at liberty to say, that to capture or exterminate a small and well-mounted band of horsemen, without any incumbrance of army train, in a country they are familiar with, and which they travel over in any direction, without regard to roads, is one of the most difficult of all military operations. My intimate acquaintance with all the movements enables me also to say, in reply to newspaper correspondents, that General Gilmore has always furnished liberally to the colonels commanding in the field all the forces needed to clean Cluke out, and that he has not prevented their success by orders interfering with their plans. That Cluke has not been destroyed by the superior forces that have pursued him, is not the fault of the General commanding the district. The various colonels, lieutenant-colonels, majors, and captains who have made the failures, had better distribute the blame among themselves, and instruct their letter-writers accordingly. It is the right thing to do.

Very respectfully,

Israel Garrard, Colonel Seventh Ohio Volunteer Cavalry.

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