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Doc. 45. General Pleasontons narrative.

Milwaukee, win, October 15, 1865.
To the Honorable B. F. Wade, Chairman of the Committee on the Conduct of the War:
Mr dear sir: Agreeably to your request, I submit for the consideration of your honorable Committee on the Conduct of the War, some of the prominent facts that came under my observation during the campaigns in which I was engaged in the late war of rebellion, and which had any bearing on their success or failure.

The first most important and prominent step in the prosecution of the war, and one whose consequences were felt to the end, was the defective and injurious organization given to the Army of the Potomac in the winter of 1861-62. It was most unfortunate, that with the finest men and material ever furnished to any army of the world, that army should have been organized with so little reference to the rules of war governing the organization of armies.

The highest military authorities have laid down, that in the proper organization of an army, the cavalry should form one fourth to one sixth of the infantry which compose it. This relation of the cavalry to the infantry is so important, in consequence of the necessary duties assigned to each in time of war, that it may fairly be said no army is fit to take the field unless these two arms are properly organized, and bear. the proper proportion to each other with respect to numbers. And it is also a strong fact, which the war has demonstrated, that the more closely these proportions are observed throughout the campaign, the greater will be the success, and the greater will be the confidence reposed by the troops of the different arms in each other, which greatly tends to lighten their most arduous duties. It is a vicious organization that requires the infantry to supply the deficiencies of service, for want of sufficient cavalry, or the reverse; or that imposes upon a small body of cavalry the arduous and ruinous service that should only be borne by thrice their numbers.

With eighty thousand cavalry on the payrolls of the country in the winter of 1862, the Army of the Potomac was kept so deplorably deficient in cavalry as to be unable to ascertain what the enemy were doing at Fairfax and Manassas — were unable to raise the blockade of the Potomac; and the rebels had finally moved away from those places in the spring, before our army had started in pursuit.

Does any one now assert that those obstacles could not have been removed by twenty thousand cavalry, properly supported by that army?

So little interest was taken in the organization, support, and efficiency of the cavalry, that it became more of a farce than the earnest effort to create an important arm to advance against the enemy.

I served with the Army of the Potomac from October, 1861, until March, 1864, in the various capacities of regimental, brigade, division, and corps commander of cavalry. My constant theme was the proper increase and organization of the cavalry, and from what has since been done I am confirmed in the opinion formed at that time, that if the proper steps had been taken that winter of 1862, a superb cavalry corps could have been organized by the spring; in which event the Peninsula campaign, one of the bad consequences resulting from the neglect of the cavalry, would not have been forced on us. McClellan dreaded the rebel cavalry, and supposed that by placing his army on a peninsula, with a deep river on each side, he was safe from that arm of the enemy; but the humiliation on the Chickahominy of having a few thousand of the enemy's cavalry ride completely round his army, and the ignominious retreat to Harrison's Landing, are additional instances in support of the maxim that a General who disregards the rules of war finds himself overwhelmed by the consequences of such neglect when the crisis of battle follows.

While the cavalry arm was thus neglected in the organization of the army, the infantry force, which was upward of one hundred and thirty thousand men, was kept in divisions until the army entered the field in the spring, when the corps formation was adopted; but so indifferently, however, that the command of the corps fell upon officers of no higher grade than that of Brigadier-General. This carelessness of assignment, by rendering every high officer uncertain of the position he held, was a fruitful source of the jealousies and dissensions that afterward occurred among the commanders in this army, and which did so much to retard and frustrate the best-devised plans that were attempted to be executed, and taken in connection with the useless superabundance of artillery with which at that time the army was supplied,and which was without higher organization than that of the battery, added to the other causes mentioned, prevented that unity of action, compactness, confidence, mobility, courage, energy and enterprise, in the army, which is so essential in the prosecution of successful warfare.

General Hooker was the first commander of the Army of the Potomac to exhibit a correct appreciation of organization in an army. He consolidated and increased his cavalry, organized them into a corps, supplied them with artillery, and was rewarded by some distinguished service, that made the march of his army a triumph from Falmouth to Frederick City. [389]

The campaign of Gettysburg which he commenced so brilliantly, was afterward conducted by his successor with such results as to produce the deepest mortification throughout the country. The doubt, hesitation, and fear of consequences displayed by General Meade was in striking contrast to the heroic valor so constantly and stubbornly exhibited by the army. Never did the cavalry, though few in numbers for the labors assigned them, perform more brilliant and successful deeds of arms than those which, after the battle of Gettysburg, brought to bay a shattered, baffled and beaten army at Falling Waters, on the banks of the Potomao, in July, 18631 The army was eager for the attack, they knew the end of the rebellion was within their grasp but their commander, General Meade, receiving no inspiration from their genius, only held them back until the enemy had escaped. The same fear of consequences which animated General Meade, caused the army to fall back from Culpepper to Centreville, in the fall of 1863, when the rebels advanced and took from the campaign of Gettysburg whatever might have been claimed for it on the score of generalship, and the Mine Run campaign showed so plainly that General Meade was deficient in the qualities required for a commander, that it was not surprising to see Lieutenant-General Grant. a short time after, assume the personal direction of the Army of the Potomac.

It is a very important fact, that the numbers of the cavalry in that Army were then more nearly in the proper proportion to those of the infantry than at any other time in its history; and the noble record of the cavalry and of the Army, while under General Grant, can consequently be accepted as one of the results of observing that important principle of war — the proper organization of an army.

In reviewing this subject,it is well to observe that the success of the rebel army in Virginia, for the first two years of the war, was mainly due to its superior organization, and to the splendid corps of cavalry it was able to maintain. That army was not hampered with a surplus of artillery, and its numerous and efficient cavalry kept its commander well informed of our movements; but when the casualties of war reduced this cavalry faster than they could replace them — which was the case in the campaigns of 1863-the Army was soon thrown upon the defensive, from which it was never after able to recover. We, then deduce the following facts: that the Army of the Potomao was better organized in the later periods of the war than at the beginning; while the reverse was the case with the rebel army. The successes of either army bore a marked correspondence to its superior organization to that of its opponent, at the time of achievement. The question then recurs, could not the war have been much sooner closed by giving to the Army of the Potomac a proper organization at the beginning

The Government should now decide this question; and if responded to in the affirmative, make the necessary corrections to prevent similar evils in our military system hereafter.

campaign of the Peninsula.

In the campaign of the Peninsula I commanded the Second regiment of United States cavalry, until the Army arrived at Harrison's landing, when 1 was made a Brigadier-General of volunteers, and commanded a brigade of cavalry in the second action at Malvern Hill, on the fifth of August, 1862, and also covered the withdrawal of the Army from the Peninsula.

Thronghout this campaign there was a decided want of vigor in the conduct of the Army, and the first great mistake was made in permitting the rebels to occupy and reinforce Yorktown, before taking possession of it. Some thirty days delay occurred in laying siege to Yorktown, when it might have been taken by assault the first few days after the Army arrived before it. At all events the importance of time at that period was such as to make an attempt worthy of a trial.

The time lost at Yorktown, and on the Chickahominy, gave the rebels an opportunity to gather their forces to defend Richmond; and the error committed in placing the Army on both sides of the Chickahominy enabled the enemy to cripple first our left wing on Fair Oaks and Seven Pines, and afterward our right wing at Mechanicsville and Gaines' Mill; and by the moral effect of these partial actions caused the Army to retreat to James river. There appeared no disposition throughout this campaign to bring the entire Army into action as an army: there was no controlling spirit so decidedly strong as to effect the necessary concert of action in the different portions of the Army, and as a consequence the battles that took place re suited, from the enemy's successively massing heavier forces on our detached corps, which were outnumbered, beaten in detail, and compelled to retreat.

It has been claimed that more troops should have been furnished the Army for the purpose of taking Richmond; but the facts of the case do not support this assertion, as the troops that were in the Army were never all used, and fought in connection with, and in support of each other, as should have been done. To have increased these large masses, without material change in the manner of fighting them from that which had been adopted, would not have changed the ultimate result from what it was, and would have only added to the embarrassments which already existed.

Besides the causes already mentioned, there were numerous oversights and neglects, bearing upon discipline, and which also had a serious influence upon the success of the campaign. Very little was done to excite the energy, emulation, and enthusiasm of the troops, while some measures were adopted that had a decided tendency to diminish these necessary qualities in a [390] marked degree. At Yorktown, an order from the headquarters prohibited all music by bands, and all calls, by either drums or bugles; and they were not resumed until after the army had arrived at Harrison's landing.

When the large masses of men which composed the Army of the Potomac were moving among the swamps of the Chickahominy, without any of the enlivening sounds of martial music, or the various well-known calls of an army life, the effect was very depressing, and caused the soldiers to exaggerate the issue that required of them to lose the most agreeable part of their profession.

The army, however, had gone to the. Peninsula very enthusiastic; the soldiers always earnest and faithful in the discharge of their duties, and although the field for the campaign had been badly selected, and there were numerous drawbacks to disappoint their hopes, there were also several occasions won by their valor, when a bold, determined, resolute commander could have forced the result to a successful issue.

campaign of Antietam.

In this campaign I commanded the cavalry division of the army, and took the advance from Washington City through Maryland, and until the field of Antietam was reached, when I fought my command in front of the bridge leading from Keedysville to Sharpsburg, and held the centre of our army throughout the battle. The same mistakes were made in this campaign that characterized that of the Peninsula: the army was not moved with sufficient rapidity or vigor from the Peninsula, or through Maryland, and the enemy was again given time to prepare and concentrate. When the battle was delivered it was fought by detached commands, in such positions as to be unable to give or receive assistance from each other. Hooker, Franklin, and Sumner's corps were on the right, too distant to receive support from the rest of the forces, while Burnside's force was on the left, at least three miles from where my command was, without any troops being between us, and with Antietam creek, which was not fordable, behind us. Fitz John Porter's corps was behind my position, a mile and a half on the opposite sided of Antietam creek, as a reserve, but it was never brought into action except in small squads.

Notwithstanding the disadvantages our army labored under from these arrangements, a decisive victory could have been won at four o'clock on the afternoon of the seventeenth of September, if a strong attack had been made on Sharpsburg from our centre. My command had cleared the enemy from my front, and were in high spirits, while the stubborn fighting of the army generally had told fearfully upon the rebels. I therefore recommended this attack, and requested to be permitted to take the initiative in it. The proposition was not approved and I was directed to hold the position I then had. The enemy were then so far off, falling back, my guns could not reach them, and the battle ended so far as my command was concerned. On the next day, the army was not permitted to advance, and on the nineteenth the enemy had crossed the Potomac and escaped. The rebel army had suffered so much more than ours in this campaign, and their ammunition was so much exhausted, that I was convinced a rapid and energetic pursuit would have routed them, if it had not caused Lee himself to surrender. Colonel Davis, of the Eighth New York cavalry, had, before the battle, destroyed all the ammunition belonging to Longstreet's corps, and the heavy demands of the fight had nearly exhausted the supply for the rest of their army. This, with the disappointment of the rebel soldiers at the failure of their enterprise to invade Pennsylvania, were advantages which should not have been thrown away.

Another opportunity for success was offered when the army was at Warrenton, in the fall of 1862. The rebel force was then divided. Longstreet, and A. P. Hill, with their corps, being at Culpepper, while Stonewall Jackson and D. H. Hill were in the Shenandoah valley, at Front Royal.

By crushing Longstreet at Culpepper, the army would cripple that of the rebels, and would cut it off from Richmond. Culpepper should have been occupied. It was at this time that General Burnside assumed command of the army, and unfortunately decided to march on Fredericksburg.

the Fredericksburg campaign.

The details of that campaign have already been so thoroughly examined by your honorable committee, as to leave nothing to be said in reference to it except, perhaps, that the cavalry bore no prominent part in it.

campaign of Chancellorsville.

In this campaign, my command was the First cavalry division of the Army of the Potomac, the First brigade of which, during the battle, was with General Stoneman on his raid toward Richmond, in rear of Lee's army. With one brigade, I preceded the Eleventh and Twelfth corps as far as Chancellorsville. The movements of the Fifth, Eleventh, and Twelfth corps across the Rappahannock and Rapidan rivers were very fine and masterly, and were executed with such secrecy that the enemy were not aware of them. For, on the thirtieth of April, 1863, I captured a courier from General Lee, commanding the rebel army, bearing a despatch from General Lee to General Anderson, and written only one hour before, stating to General Anderson he had just been informed we had crossed in force, when, in fact, our three corps had been south of the Rapidan river the night previous, and were then only five miles from Chancellorsville.

The brilliant success of these preparatory movements, I was under the impression, gave General Hooker an undue confidence as to his [391] being master of the situation, and all the necessary steps were not taken on his arrival at Chancellorsville to ensure complete success.

The country around Chanoellorsville was too cramped to admit of our whole army being properly developed there, and two corps, the Eleventh and Twelfth, should have been thrown, on the night of the thirtieth of April, to Spottsylvania Court-House, with orders to intrench, while the remainder of the army should have been disposed so as to support them. This would have compelled General Lee to attack our whole force, or retire with his flank exposed — a dangerous operation in war — or else, remain in position, and receive the attack of Sedgwick in rear and Hooker in front; a still worse dilemma.

In the third day's fight at Chancellorsville, General Hooker was badly stunned by the concussion of a shell against a post near which he was standing, and from which he did not recover sufficiently during the battle to resume the proper command of the army. The plan of this campaign was a bold one, and was more judicious than was generally supposed, from the large force General Hooker had at his command. There is always one disadvantage, however, attending the sending off of large detachments near the day of battle. War is such an uncertain game, it can scarcely be expected that all of the details in the best-devised plans will meet with success, and unless a general is prepared and expects to replace at once, by new combinations, such parts of his plans as fail, he will be defeated in his campaign; and as these changes are often rapid, he cannot include his distant detachments in his new plans with any certainty, and the doubt their absence creates reduces the army he can depend on to the actual number of men he has in hand. If General Hooker had not been injured at the commencement of the final battle, I am not certain his splendid fighting qualities would not have won for him the victory. It was in this battle that, with three regiments of cavalry and twenty-two pieces of artillery, I checked the attack of the rebel General Stonewall Jackson, after he had routed the Eleventh corps.

Jackson had been moving his corps of twenty-five or thirty thousand men through the woods throughout the day of the second of May, 1863, from the left to the right of our army, and about six o'clock in the evening he struck the right and rear of the Eleventh corps with one of those characteristic attacks that made the rebel army so terrible when he was with it, and which was lost to them in his death.

In a very short time he doubled up the Eleventh corps into a disordered mass, which soon sought safety in flight.

My command of three cavalry regiments and one battery of six guns happened to be near this scene, and perceiving at a glance that if this rout was not checked the ruin of the whole army would be involved I immediately ordered one of my regiments to charge the woods from which the rebels were issuing, and hold them until 1 could bring some guns into position; then, charging several squadrons into our flying masses, to clear ground for my battery, it was brought up at a run, while staff officers and troops were despatched to seize from the rout all the guns possible. The brilliant charge of the regiment into the woods detained the rebels some ten minutes, but in that short time, such was the energy displayed by my command, I placed in line twenty-two pieces of artillery, double-shotted with canister, and aimed low, with the remainder of the cavalry supporting them.

Dusk was now rapidly approaching, with an apparent lull in the fight, when heavy masses of men could be seen on the edge of the woods, having a single flag, and that the flag of the United States, while at the same time they cried out: “Don't shoot, we are friends!”

In an instant an aide-de-camp galloped out to ascertain the truth, when a withering fire of musketry was opened on us by this very gallant foe, who now dropped our ensign, displayed ten or twelve rebel battle-flags, and with loud yells charged the guns. I then gave the command, “Fire!” and the terrible volley, delivered at less than two hundred yards' distance, caused the thick, moving masses of the enemy to stagger, cease from yelling, and for a moment discontinue their musket fire; but they were in such numbers, had such an indomitable leader, and they had so great a prize within their reach, that they soon rallied, and came on again with increased energy and force, to be met by the artillery, served well and rapidly, and with such advantage that the rebels were never able to make a permanent lodgement at the guns, which many of their adventurous spirits succeeded in reaching. This fight lasted about an hour, when a final charge was made and repulsed, when they sullenly retired to the woods.

It was at this time that General Jackson was mortally wounded; and as the rebel authorities have published that he had been killed by his own men, I shall mention some facts of so strong a character as to refute this statement.

Soon after the last attack, I captured some of the rebel soldiers in the woods, and they told me it was Jackson's corps that had made this fight; that Jackson himself had directed it, and had been mortally wounded, and that their loss was very heavy.

I have since met rebel officers who were then engaged, and they corroborated the above statement, and they added that it was known and believed by Jackson's men that he had been mortally wounded by our fire. Again, one of my own officers, who had been taken prisoner in that engagement, told me, after he was exchanged; that he had been taken up to Jackson soon after his capture; that Jackson questioned him about our force, and that he was then not far from our lines. This clearly proves that Jackson was on the field in command, and had not [392] been wounded up to and until after the fight had commenced. Now, when it is remembered the entire front of my line did not occupy six hundred yards; that the opposing forces were in open ground, not three hundred yards from each other, and so close that no reconnoissance in front was necessary by an officer of Jackson's rank; and, taken in connection with the fact that the fierce attacks characteristic of the man did not cease until he was wounded, and were not renewed after he was, the conclusion is simple, natural, and forcible that Jackson commanded and fell in his attack on our guns. In justice to the high character as a general of Jackson, I am free to admit that had he not been wounded, and had made another attack, as he undoubtedly would have done, he would have carried my position; for my losses had already disabled more than half my guns, and the few that were left could have easily been overpowered.

There seemed a providential interference in Jackson's removal at the critical time in which it occurred, for the position fought for by him commanded and enfiladed our whole army; and had he won it on the rout of the Eleventh corps, the disaster to us would have been irreparable.

campaign of Gettysburg.

I was placed in command of the cavalry corps of the Army of the Potomac, and made a Major-General of volunteers, after the battle of Chancellorsville, and the campaign of Gettysburg began by my attacking the rebel cavalry at Beverly ford on the Rappahannock river, on the ninth of June, 1863. The rebels were defeated, and very important information was obtained relative to their proposed invasion of Pennsylvania, upon which General Hooker acted immediately, and moved his army toward Maryland. On the seventeenth, the nineteenth and the twenty-first of June, 1863, I attacked the rebels at Aldie, at Middleburg and Upperville, with such success, that General Lee abandoned his design of crossing the Potomac at Poolesville, and moved the bulk of his army to Hagerstown, by the way of Williamsport, and from thence to Chambersburg. When our army had arrived at Frederick City, General Hooker was relieved from the command and General Meade was assigned in his place. General Hooker left the army in fine condition and discipline, and well in hand, and he had the confidence of the troops in his ability to command them.

General Meade sent for me soon after his assigument, and in discussing the subject of the campaign, I mentioned that from my knowledge of the country, obtained the year before in the Antietam campaign, I considered the result of the present one depended entirely upon which of the two armies first obtained possession of Gettysburg, as that was so strong a position that either army, by holding it, could defeat the other; that General Lee knew this, and would undoubtedly make for it. But in the disposition of the army for the march, I saw that General Meade did not attach that importance to the subject that it deserved, and that he was more impressed with the idea that Lee intended crossing the Susquehanna river, and accordingly threw the bulk of his army too far to the east of Gettysburg. Seeing this I directed General Buford, who commanded the First cavalry division, and who was ordered to Gettysburg, to hold that place at all hazards until our infantry could come up. Buford arrived at Gettysburg on the night of the thirtieth of June, 1863, in advance of the enemy, and moved out the next day very early, about four miles on the Cashtown road, when he met A. P. Hill's corps of the enemy, thirty thousand strong, moving down to occupy Gettysburg; Lee thus doing exactly what I informed General Meade he would do. Buford with his four thousand cavalry attacked Hill, and for four hours splendidly resisted his advance, until Reynolds and Howard were able to hurry to the field and give their assistance. To the intrepidity, courage and fidelity of General Buford, and his brave division, the country and the army owe the battle-field of Gettysburg.

His unequal fight of four thousand men against eight times their numbers, and his saving the field, made Buford the true hero of that battle.

While this terrible fight of the first day was raging, having been commenced by Buford in the morning, and continued by Reynolds and Howard in the evening; General Meade was seventeen miles off, at Tarrytown, leisurely planning a line of battle on some obscure creek in another direction; when he was aroused by a despatch from Buford through me, stating that Reynolds was killed, the field was becoming disordered, and if he expected to save it the army must be moved up at once. The different again corps were then directed to march on Gettysburg, but some were so distant, Sedgwick's in particular, that it did not arrive on the field until sundown of the second of July, after having marched thirty-five miles. General Meade did not himself reach the field until one o'clock on the morning of the second, long after the first day's fight had been brought to a close.

On the second of July, 1863, that portion of the army that was on the field was placed in a defensive position, but General Meade had so little assurance in his own ability to maintain himself, or in the strength of his position, that when the rebels partially broke our line in the afternoon of the second, he directed me to collect what cavalry I could and prepare to cover the retreat of the army; and I was thus engaged until twelve o'clock that night. I mention this fact now, because when I was before your honorable Committee, and was asked the question, whether General Meade ever had any idea of retreating from Gettysburg, I answered that I did not remember; the above circumstance at that time being out of my mind, and it was [393] only afterward recalled by my staff officers on my return to camp. On the third of July, 1863, the last day of the battle of Gettysburg, and immediately after the final repulse of the rebels, I urged General Meade to advance his whole army and attack them; but he refused to do so quite angrily, and his remarks showed he did not or would not understand the events that were occurring around him. He directed me to send the cavalry and ascertain if the enemy were retreating, which was done at once, but as the cavalry was at some distance from the army, it was not until eight o'clock the next morning that the first report of the cavalry on the Cashtown road was received, showing the enemy were twenty-two miles off, and getting away as fast as they could. The cavalry was continued in pursuit, but the remainder of the army did not leave Gettysburg for several days after the rebels had left, and were then moved in such a leisurely manner as to show no great anxiety by the commander to overtake the rebels. Very unexpectedly, to the army and to the rebels, the heavy rains caused the Potomac to rise so rapidly that Lee could not cross, and he was again brought face to face with the Army of the Potomac at Falling Water. Every military reason demanded that the rebels should be immediately attacked; for after the three days heavy fighting at Gettysburg, it was a moderate conclusion to arrive at, that the rebels were short of ammunition and could not sustain a protracted fight. General Lee admitted this afterward in his official report, and expected to be attacked; when he says, “our artillery having nearly expended its ammunition,” and again, “the enemy in force reached our front on the twelfth. A position had been previously selected to cover the Potomac from Williamsport to Falling Water, and an attack was awaited during that and the succeeding day. This did not take place, though the two armies were in close proximity, the enemy being occupied in fortifying his own lines.” The army of the Potomac having had all its wants supplied since the battle of Gettysburg, and with the prestige of that battle, was eager for the fight, and was in good condition for it. Here General Meade again refused to attack, and waited a whole day until the rebels had succeeded in crossing the river, and had again escaped.

The army thus lost the fruits of all its arduous toils, struggles and triumphs, and the country had entailed upon it a prolonged war for two years more, with its innumerable sacrifices of blood and treasure.

In reviewing the battle and campaign of Gettysburg, when we notice that General Meade was absent from the field on the first days' fight, that he was occupied with the idea of retreating on the second day; and that after his indomitable army had repulsed and badly beaten the rebel army on the third day, he refused to allow them to complete their victory; and still later, when fortune again unexpectedly thrust the rebels into his power at Falling Water, he doggedly refused to fight, but waited until they could escape; we are forced to the conclusion, that General Meade was unable to fight the Army of the Potomac as it should have been fought, nor could he avail himself of the advantages which the valor of his troops at times gave him, and that the honors of that campaign are not due to any generalship that he displayed; but to the heroic bravery, patriotism and perseverance of the army.

the retreat from Culpepper.

General Meade had occupied Culpepper with his army about the middle of September, 1863, General Lee's army being south of the Rapidan.

The army had been at Culpepper about a month, when General Meade decided to make an offensive demonstration against Lee; for which purpose Buford's division of cavalry was ordered to cross the Rapidan at Germania ford, and then uncover Raccoon ford, where Newton's corps was to assist him.

After Buford had started, and was too far off to be recalled, General Lee put his army in motion toward our right, which so alarmed General Meade that he made his preparations to retreat from Culpepper; and so precipitate were his movements that Buford's division was very near being cut off, while the army was hastily marched to the rear. General Lee, finding he could move General Meade so easily, urged him back as far as Centreville, and when the latter took up a position near that place, Lee contented himself with destroying the railroad we had left behind, and retired on Culpepper.

campaign of mine run.

The President having ordered General Meade to advance and attack General Lee, Culpepper was again occupied, early in November, 1863, when, shortly after, General Meade projected the campaign of Mine Run, the plan of which was based on the supposition that there was a good road from a mill several miles above Germania ford, to Robertson's tavern, on the Orange Court-house road or turnpike, when the fact was there was no road at all, and the country was extremely difficult to pass through. I knew the country well, and I told General Meade there was no road at that place, and to attempt to march troops through it would jeopardize the campaign; but my report did not appear to make any impression on him. On the evening before the army moved, a gentleman by the name of Smith, who had resided in that neighborhood, and was a loyal man, was in our employ, and who knew the country thoroughly, came to me and said he had heard General Meade intended passing a portion of his army by that mill above the Germania ford; and that if he did so he would get his army into trouble as there was no road at that point. I persuaded Mr. Smith to go and see General Meade, and tell him what he knew of the country; and Mr. Smith afterward told me that he had done [394] so, but that the General had not paid much attention to him. Two corps-French's and Sedgwick's — were put in where General Meade imagined there was a road, and they floundered about in the woods and ravines for a day and a half, the rest of the army waiting for them; and when they did join us, and we came up to the rebels, General Meade changed his mind, again refused to attack, and marched the army back to Culpepper.

Shortly after this campaign I was ordered to the Department of the Missouri, and my connection with the Army of the Potomac ceased.

campaign of Price in Missouri.

The rebel General Price, with twenty-five thousand men and eighteen pieces of artillery, invaded the State of Missouri, from Arkansas, in October, 1864. He attacked the field-work near Pilot Knob, in the south-eastern part of the State and, although he was repulsed, the garrison abandoned the work and fled to Rolla, some sixty miles to the south-west, where two brigades of cavalry were stationed. Price then moved up toward Franklin, and threatened Saint Louis. General A. J. Smith's command was thrown out to Franklin to cover that place, when Price turned off to Jefferson City, destroying the railroads as he went along; and, on arriving at Jefferson City, he besieged it for several days, the garrison having some six thousand troops, with ten or twelve guns, under four volunteer brigadier-generals.

On the sixth of October, 1864, General Rosecrans, commanding the Department of the Missouri, fearing Jefferson City would be lost, ordered me to proceed to that place, and take command of all the forces in that vicinity. I arrived in time to see Price move off, and immediately organized a cavalry force of about four thousand men, with a battery, which was sent in pursuit, and which did good service in compelling Price to keep his command together, and so save the country from being badly pillaged. All other troops that could possibly take the field were prepared to do so, and by the sixteenth of October a cavalry force of seven thousand men and eight pieces of artillery, including the force that was sent in pursuit of Price, was organized and on the march. I assumed the command of this force, and by forced marches came to Lexington on the twentieth, out of which place Price had driven General Curtis' troops, under General Blunt, that morning. I pushed on the next day to the Little Blue, engaged Price's troops, captured two pieces of cannon, and drover them back to the Big Blue, through Independence.

While this was going on, General Price with part of his force attacked Major-General Curtis, who had a force of twenty thousand men and thirty-two pieces of artillery, and drove him to Westport, in Kansas, Curtis losing one of his guns.

On the twenty-third of October I attacked Price in position on the Big Blue, drove him from his position toward the south, and took a number of prisoners. Price then moved rapidly in retreat.

At this time Major-General S. R. Curtis, commanding Department of Kansas, joined me, and proposed, as my command had done so much hard fighting, that he should take the advance. To this I assented, when Curtis, after marching for a day in front, on finding Price had halted on the Osage river, in position to give battle, requested me to take the advance and attack Price. I, therefore, moved immediately with my command to the front, and continued my march all night of the twenty-fourth of October, and at daylight on the morning of the twenty-fifth, I surprised Price in his camp, and drove him from it, and by a series of heavy engagements throughout the day, captured eight pieces of artillery, several standards, one majorgeneral, one brigadier-general, four colonels, and many subordinate officers, and fifteen hundred men. besides a large number of wagons, beefcattle, sheep, &c., Price's force becoming demoralized and retreating rapidly, throwing away their arms and other property that encumbered them.

I regret to add that Major-General Curtis gave me no support whatever this day, but, to the benefit of the rebels, his troops were back, and did not participate in any of the engagements; otherwise I should have captured Price's whole force. After the fighting was over, General Curtis moved his forces up, and, with the most exemplary modesty, laid claim to the prisoners, guns, &c., that had been captured, but which I could not recognize, since he had waived his right to command at the time it was necessary to take them from the enemy.

On arriving at Fort Scott, Kansas, such of my troops whose horses were able, pursued Price, to the borders of the State, and in an engagement near Newtonia, under General Sanborn, Price was again routed and a number of prisoners were taken, which ended the campaign in Missouri.

The object of General Price, in his invasion of Missouri, as shown by intercepted despatches and his speeches at Booneville and elsewhere, was, in concert with disloyal parties in the North, to hold the States of Missouri and Kansas during the time of the Presidential election, to prevent an election, and by other action embarrass the Government of the United States.

It was this design that demanded such hard marching and extraordinary energy on the part of the small force at my command, to defeat intentions so sinister and disastrous to the country; and the efforts put forth were so successful, that the State of Missouri recognized their glorious consequences by giving at the Presidential election a vote of forty thousand majority in favor of the government. This was not the only important result of the campaign to the national cause, for the defeat and discomfiture of Price also released from service in [395] Missouri a large force of our troops, that were sent immediately to General Thomas at Nashville, and they arrived in time to assist in the battles before that place, against General Hood, and it is not too much to assert that this addition General Thomas received to his forces in General A. J. Smith's corps, rendered him victorious in one of the crowning achievements of the war.

The mistake of this campaign consisted in not attacking Price on his entry into the State, or as soon after as possible. The same troops were able to defeat Price in the east that afterward did so on the borders of Kansas.

All of which is respectfully submitted to your honorable Committee.

A. Pleasonton, Major-General.

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