Doc. 71.-the battle of Chickamauga.
Statement of Major-General McCook.
Louisville, Ky., February 18, 1864.on the twenty-eighth of September last, an order was issued consolidating with another the Twentieth army corps, which had been my highest honor to command. The order was announced to the army on the eighth of October; I was relieved from command, and have been ever since awaiting the pleasure of the President for the investigation which has just closed. Conscious that my troops had been subjected to unjust reproach, and that my reputation as their commander had been reviled, I was glad to have this opportunity of vindication, the only means open to me; for on every principle binding the soldier silence was imposed upon me, when the same order which relieved me from command directed me to await a Court of Inquiry upon my conduct. I am conscious, too, that the testimony which has been introduced, while it may enable the Court to respond to the questions which are vital to myself, has fallen far short of enabling it fully to pass upon the battle of Chickamauga; and whatever you may think of the conduct of its commander, surely you must conclude that it was a hurried and a hard sentence, which blotted out of existence the Twentieth army corps, while others not nearly so large nor so tried in battle have been allowed to retain their organization and recruit their ranks. The Court will bear me witness, except when absolutely necessary for a proper understanding of my own conduct, I have abstained from any questions as to the conduct of others, and the same rule shall govern me in the remarks I make upon the testimony. Indeed, if it were not a departure from the custom in such cases, I feel that I might refrain from this, and submit my cause without a word. If the Court shall be as impartial in judgment as it has been patient and fair in the hearing, I shall be content. On the seventeenth day of September, 1863, the Twentieth army corps, wearied by its marches over mountain roads, returned and effected its junction with General Thomas by Winston Gap, which the latter advised to be the only practicable road. It went into camp at Pond Spring, seven miles from the slope of Mission Ridge, at Widow Glenn's house, and only fifteen miles from Chattanooga, the objective point of the recent army movements. It remained there all the day of the eighteenth, waiting to close up “when General Thomas is out of the way.” His troops marched that night, and before daylight the Twentieth corps started, Johnson's division leading, and when it reached headquarters it was immediately ordered to Thomas. Johnson's and Davis's divisions and one brigade of Sheridan's were heavily engaged on the nineteenth, Davis losing one brigade commander, (killed,) and Sheridan one, (wounded.) But I need not delay the Court with any resume of the operations of the nineteenth. My fieldorders are before the Court, and it is enough to say they were obeyed. “I was with General McCook the entire day, and feel certain they were explicitly obeyed.” --[Major Bates's reexamination.] At dark on the nineteenth I went to the council at Widow Glenn's House. At midnight the orders were resolved upon, and I left to rouse my troops and move them to their position for the struggle of the twentieth. Before daylight I reported at Glenn's House that they were moving. The positions selected were seen by General Morton, the Chief of Engineers, who testifies they were “eminently judicious.” General Davis testifies that “he is confident they could have been held against any attack in front.” General Rosecrans “made several observations in approval of the positions.” --[Morton's testimony.] Now, admitting the General-in-Chief debated some of the positions with me; that he suggested a change in one place; that he answered my objections to his suggestions, and gave replies to the reasons urged for the positions chosen — it is enough to say that he rode the lines; that he saw the positions — it was his to order and mine to obey. Nor is it quite accurate to say that General McCook was not expected “to cover any particular position of the ground unless he could do so, and at the same time maintain his connection with General Thomas.” The order to General Crittenden most clearly indicates what McCook was expected to do.
Headqdarters Department of the Cumberland, Widow Glenn's house, September 19, 1863--11.20 P. M.General: The General Commanding directs me to inform you that General McCook has been ordered to hold this gap to-morrow, commanding the Dry Valley Road, his right resting near this place, his left connecting with General Thomas's right. The General places your corps in reserve tomorrow, and directs you to post it on the eastern slope of Mission Ridge to support McCook or Thomas. Leave the grand guards of your command out with instructions to hold their ground until driven in; then to retire slowly, contesting the ground stubbornly. Very respectfully your obedient servant,
J. A. Garfield, Brigadier-General and Chief of Staff.
But whatever may be the merits or demerits of the position selected, it is idle to discuss them, for they were proved in battle, but were changed in respects most vital to their security. Let us inquire how the plan of battle clanged. My proper command was the Twentieth corps, consisting of Johnson's, Sheridan's, and Davis's