roads — neither myself nor any of the staff officers having ever been in Chattanooga, or nearer to it than the battle-field. I was compelled to rely upon the guide of General Rosecrans, who assured me there was no other route we could take, and that the one we took led us toward Rossville. I expected to go by Rossville, or near enough to learn the situation of affairs there, until I met the troops of General Spears and found I was nearer Chattanooga than Rossville, and that General Rosecrans was still at the former place. And I submit to the Court that without any order from him at all, if there was to be a tomorrow to that day, it was my duty. to see General Rosecrans that day, and know his plans and see the country nearer Chattanooga, where I had no doubt the army must fall back; that this, too, was the superior duty for me if the troops I left behind were in competent hands. By the route I took, no body of soldiers was found until I met those of General Spears, within two (2) miles of Chattanooga, marching to Rossville. I did not, immediately after reporting to General Rosecrans, return to Rossville, on which my troops had been directed to march, because the General ordered me to remain with him until he should receive further information, when he would determine his course and give me orders. When I left the field, it would have been easy to follow impulse, and, notwithstanding the reports I had received, endeavor to reach the left. It was the stronger with me, as one of my own divisions was there; but the path of duty, under my conception of my orders, or in the absence of any orders, was the same, and I felt compelled to follow it. Respectfully submitted.
Defence of General Negley.
Chattanooga, on the evening of October sixth, 1863, at a private interview, secured for me by a written request from General Thomas to General Rosecrans, I was informed for the first time that the Department Commander was dissatisfied with my official conduct at the battle of Chickamauga, on the twentieth of September, 1863. At the same time, General Rosecrans referred to statements made by Brigadier-Generals Brannan and Wood as the reasons for his unfavorable opinions. In reply to my expression of pain and surprise, that he should entertain such opinions without my knowledge, or without giving me opportunity for explanation or defence, he requested me to submit a supplementary report, with the written statements of officers whose names I had mentioned, who were conversant with the facts. This report occasioned General Rosecrans's letter to the Adjutant-General of the army, dated October fourteenth, 1863, in which he states:
The General (Negley) had always been an active, energetic, and efficient commander, and displayed very good judgment in the affair of Widow Davis's house, in front of Stevens's Gap, where he was attacked by a superior force of the enemy, and successfully extricated his train and command from its perilous position.Also: “From a careful perusal of that (my report) and the accompanying documents, (I find) that he acted (at Chickamauga) according to his best judgment under the circumstances of the case.” But as General Wood, aided by several other general officers, labored assiduously to impair my military reputation, and thus my usefulness in the army, I deemed it imperative, being also influenced by the friendly advice of General Rosecrans and Thomas, to demand an investigation, as the only admitted and honorable means of vindicating myself. The application was considerately complied with in the order convening this Court. General Rosecrans also states in the letter referred to: “But an impression that he left the field on Sunday, without orders or necessity, having made its way through the army, and statements having appeared in the official reports of general officers seeming to support this impression,” etc. The testimony and papers before the Court show conclusively that Generals Brannan and Wood, officers junior to me in rank and entirely independent of my command, were the authors of these imputations, and that they used their official report for otherwise unauthorized censures which necessitated this investigation. Official copies or extracts from these official reports were not furnished until submitted before this Court, February eleventh, 1864. Nevertheless, true extracts from these reports appeared. from time to time in the public press, in direct violation of the following order:
The channels through which these extracts were obtained may be plausibly conjectured, from the italicizing, and the purpose for which they were used. The evidence further shows that my most zealous, violent, and disrespectful accuser was General Wood; yet, as a sworn witness before this Court, he not only failed to establish the statement made in his report, but could not mention a single instance where General Negley had failed to do his duty in the battle of Chickamauga, or which would in the slightestwar Department, October 4, 1862.II. If any officer shall hereafter, without proper authority, permit the publication of any official letter or report, or allow any such document to pass into the hands of persons not authorized to receive it, his name will be submitted to the President for dismissal. This rule applies to all official letters and reports, written by an officer himself. By order of the Secretary of War.L Townsend, Adjutant-General.