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[766]

Appendix to chapter II. of book I., volume II.


Battle of Fair Oaks.

THIS volume was already printed when we received some manuscript notes on the battle of Fair Oaks, which General Joseph E. Johnston had the kindness to send us from his retirement in Georgia. Honored by this mark of confidence on the part of the former adversary of the army of the Potomac, we have with the greatest care compared these notes with the numerous official documents from which we have derived the matter of our narrative. We have found in them some details which we regret not having known in time, but nothing to lead us to modify the statements contained in that narrative. In fact, we feel bound to adhere to our own opinion in regard to certain points, not very numerous, however, concerning which we cannot accept General Johnston's assertions. It is therefore out of deference to him that we propose to state in few words the question of fact about which we do not agree. According to General Johnston, the attack of Longstreet or of the Confederate right against Seven Pines was almost immediately followed by that of G. W. Smith on the left, directed against Fair Oaks by the general-in-chief himself, and this attack fell at once upon Couch, who had remained inactive up to that time at Fair Oaks, and upon Sumner, who had already come up to Couch's assistance. If such had been the case, the only fault found with the Confederates, that of a want of unanimity in their attacks, would be without foundation. But we believe that the Southern general, in condensing the incidents of that day into so short a space, has committed two errors in regard to time which completely change the aspect of the battle.

1st. According to his statement, the attack of Longstreet against Casey only preceded that of Smith by one hour or one hour and a half; and the second attack having taken place at half-past 4 o'clock, the first must have been made at three or half-past 3. The most conclusive evidence goes to prove that it commenced before one o'clock. The following is the precise time fixed by the generals of army corps, divisions and brigades who commanded the Federals on this side, in their reports or depositions before the committee on the conduct of the war relative to this matter: Keyes, half-past 12; Casey, forty minutes after twelve; Naglee, about one o'clock.

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