original letter, with the records to which it belonged, must, it is presumed, have been deposited at the headquarters of the department in St. Louis
when the Army of the West was disbanded, in the latter part of August, 1861.
Neither the original letter nor any copy of it can now (July, 1897) be found.
It can only be conjectured what motive caused General Fremont
to omit a copy of the letter from the papers submitted to the committee, which were at the time strongly commented upon in Congress, or what caused to be removed from the official files the original, which had again come into his possession.
's answer to this letter, given below, the original draft of which was prepared by me and is yet in my possession, shows that Fremont
's letter to Lyon
was dated August 6, and was received on the 9th.
I am not able to recall even the substance of the greater part of that letter, but the purport of that part of it which was then of vital importance is still fresh in my memory.
That purport was instructions to the effect that if Lyon was not strong enough to maintain his position as far in advance as Springfield, he should fall back toward Rolla until reinforcements should meet him
It is difficult to see why General Fremont
did not produce a copy of those instructions in his statement to the committee.
It would have furnished him with the best defense he could possibly have made against the charge of having sacrificed Lyon
and his command.
But the opinion then seemed so strong and so nearly universal that Lyon
's fight at Wilson's Creek
was a necessity, and that Fremont
ought to have reinforced him before that time at any cost, that perhaps Fremont
had not the courage to do what was really best for his own defense, namely, to acknowledge and maintain that he had ordered Lyon
to fall back, and that the latter should have obeyed that order.
At my suggestion, General Lyon
instructed me to prepare