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[667] those who had kept their places, which was without sufficient cause, for I believe that the enemy had only made the movement against us as a demonstration, hoping to protect his stores, etc., at Winchester, and that the rout of our troops was a surprise to him. I had endeavored to guard against the dangers of stopping to plunder in the camps by cautioning the division commanders, and ordering them to caution their subordinates and take the most rigid measures to prevent it, and I endeavored to arrest the evil while in progress without avail. The truth is, we have very few field or company officers worth anything, almost all our good officers of that kind having been killed, wounded, or captured, and it is impossible to preserve discipline without good field and company officers.

I send you a map of the battle-field with the surrounding country. You will see marked out on it the different routes of the several columns. The plan was a bold one and was vigorously pursued by the division commanders, and it was successful, but the victory already gained was lost by the subsequent bad conduct of the troops. The artillery throughout, from first to last, in this as well as in all the actions I have had, behaved nobly, both officers and men, and not a piece of artillery has been lost by any fault of theirs. I attribute this good conduct on their part to the vast superiority of the officers. Colonel Carter and all his battalion commanders richly deserve promotion. They not only fought their guns gallantly and efficiently, but they made the most strenuous efforts to rally the infantry. It is mortifying to me, General, to have to make these explanations of my reverses; they are due to no want of effort on my part, though it may be that I have not the capacity or judgment to prevent them. I have labored faithfully to gain success, and I have not failed to expose my person and to set an example to my men. I know that I shall have to endure censure from those who do not understand my position and difficulties, but I am still willing to make renewed efforts. If you think, however, that the interests of the service would be promoted by a change of commanders, I beg you will have no hesitation in making the change. The interests of the service are far beyond any personal considerations, and if they require it I am willing to surrender my command into other hands. Though this affair has resulted so disastrously to my command, yet I think it is not entirely without compensating benefits. The Sixth corps had already begun to move off to Grant, and my movement brought it back, and Sheridan's forces are now so shattered that he will not be able to send Grant any efficient aid for some time. I

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U. S. Grant (2)
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