As to the first excuse, the simple reading of the record of accomplishment of the Sixth Corps, during the first twenty-four hours after receiving the order to join the rest of the army, is a sufficient refutation.
An advance of two miles in constant contact with the enemy, the fighting of two desperate battles, the last of them against great odds, and the successful withdrawal across the river, after an all day's conflict on the second day shows that the part which Sedgwick
and the Sixth Corps took is the only really admirable feature of the entire campaign.
As to the second excuse, the writer after the war became well acquainted with the bugler at Army Headquarters, and he ridiculed the idea that the solid shot had anything to do with Hooker
's condition at any time.
He said that the brandy bottle was the real reason for the fiasco.
And, certainly the simple fact that a brandy bottle was frequently resorted to, is a more reasonable explanation of successive developments of the conduct and decisions of the commander of the army than any other can be. From energetic activity, through the different grades of intoxication to final incapacity, is the age old and certain effect of too frequent resorts to the bottle.
But those were the days of ignorance of the real character of alcoholic drinks.
They were accounted good and necessary by the great majority of people, and were used freely as medicine, as a harmless stimulant under trying circumstances, as an innocent social indulgence and as a creator of “Dutch
courage” in time of battle.
It was not until the close of the war that a realization of the harmful effect of the use of intoxicants began to be felt.