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A, page 2.

More than sixteen years after Hooker's appointment, and only a few months before that brave soldier's death, the public was made acquainted with the confidential letter that the President addressed to him in transmitting his order of assignment as commander of the Army of the Potomac. The paternal tone of this letter, mingled with a vein of humor, and the practical good sense which it breathes throughout, portray so admirably the character of Mr. Lincoln that we deem it proper to insert its full text:

executive mansion, Washington, D. C., January 26, 1863.
Major-General Hooker:
General: I have placed you at the head of the Army of the Potomac. Of course I have done this upon what appears to me to be sufficient reasons, and yet I think it best for you to know that there are some things in regard to which I am not quite satisfied with you. I believe you to be a brave and skilful soldier, which, of course, I like. I also believe you do not mix politics with your profession, in which you are right. You have confidence in yourself, which is a valuable, if not an indispensable, quality. You are ambitious, which, within reasonable bounds, does good rather than harm; but I think that during General Burnside's command of the army you have taken counsel of your ambition, and thwarted him as much as you could, in which you did a great wrong to the country and to a most meritorious and honorable brother-officer. I have heard, in such way as to believe it, of your recently saying that both the army and the Government needed a dictator. Of course it was not for this, but in spite of it, that I have given you the command, Only those generals who gain successes can set up dictators. What I now ask of you is military success, and I will risk the dictatorship. The Government will support you to the utmost of its ability, which is neither more nor less than it has done and will do for all commanders. I much fear that the spirit which you have aided to infuse into the army, of criticising their commander and withholding confidence from him, will now turn upon you. I shall assist you as far as I can to put it down. Neither you nor Napoleon, if he were alive again, could get any good out of an army while such a spirit prevails in it. And now beware of rashness. Beware of rashness, but with energy and sleepless vigilance go forward and give us victories.

Yours, very truly,


Bibliographical note.

we will not here give all the documents from which we have already borrowed the elements of our history, and which are enumerated at the end of the first and second volumes. But as we progress in this work and years pass away documents become more numerous and complete. The Federal reports, the statements of the contributors to the newspapers, are better written, clearer, and more circumstantial; every one has made some advance in his military education, both in the North and in the South. The military operations, while being condensed, so to speak, are also more easily related: war, being made in a more methodical manner, lends itself better to a narration of the events. In short, the ardent passions which animated the combatants having, thank God! been calmed before the principal actors of the great drama have passed away, its history has become for them an inexhaustible subject of courteous controversy, of which the great public of the United States is to-day the arbitrator. This controversy is pursued sometimes in the periodicals exclusively devoted to one of the two armies, as the Army and Navy Journal in the North and the Southern Historical Society's Papers in the South. It is remarkable that sometimes in the very same journal, such as the Weekly Times of Philadelphia, the most interesting light is thrown by both sides upon the facts which we have undertaken to relate. Besides, it is not limited to the discussion of facts between officers of the opposing armies, for it is more lively perhaps between those who fought under the same flag, and who bandy with each other the responsibility of the defeats which have been successively experienced by each of the two parties. Before commencing the narration of the decisive battle of Gettysburg we provoked on the causes of Lee's defeat a discussion of this kind, which has been to us of great help; it has been published in the Southern Historical Society's Papers, thanks to the kindness of the editor, the Rev. J. Wm. Jones, who solicited on this point the opinion of some of the principal officers of the Confederate army.

The special works of Hotchkiss and Allan on Chancellorsville, of Bates on Gettysburg—the one written from the Southern standpoint, the other from the Northern—as well as the maps published by the former and that of Bachelder of Gettysburg, have been for us invaluable guides. But the most useful documents for such a work are those which emanate from the actors themselves, and which are written at the first moment, when facts are too recent to allow any glossing of the truth. Unfortunately, the printed reports of Lee and his [853] subordinates stop after the battle of Chancellorsville. However, the Rev. J. Wm. Jones has published a great number of them, furnished by the authors and their families, and has thus made up for this blank. On the other side we owe to the kindness of Colonel Meade, the general's son, the use of all the military papers of his father, which he kindly permitted us to have copied. In this voluminous collection, which contains the reports of his subordinates, the directions that he gave them, and his telegraph despatches, one finds the most lifelike description of all the incidents of the struggle and the motives which inspired each movement, and finds fortuitous or voluntary errors, which, on being later accredited, have covered the faults of the one and unjustly condemned the others.

We have largely borrowed, for the same campaigns, from the following works: ‘Four Years with General Lee,’ by Colonel Taylor; ‘Personal Reminiscences of General Lee,’ by the Rev. J. Wm. Jones; ‘Life of General Lee,’ by J. Esten Cooke; ‘Pickett and his Men,’ by W. Harrison; and for that of Vicksburg a narration of the siege by a resident has furnished us with some curious details. Let us quote, in short, among our authors, the most illustrious of all, General Sherman, to whom we owe, under the form of ‘Memoirs,’ the most original, brilliant, and instructive pages which have ever been written on the war. General Sherman, who has never been ambitious for any political post nor solicited the votes of any political party, has had the rare courage to say frankly in these Memoirs what he thought of the officers who served near or under him. Judgments without any reticence, thus expressed by the commander of an army, clash with many feelings of self-love, and sometimes wound legitimate susceptibilities and excite some manifestations of anger; but they halve, in the eyes of the historian, an incomparable value.


Additions and corrections to Vols. I. And II.

since the publication of the preceding volumes we have received a large number of documents from America, either recently printed or in manuscript, and their examination has enabled us to detect some inaccuracies of detail in those volumes: some of them have even thrown a new light upon events which we have narrated. Recognizing it as the first duty of an historian to dispel as promptly and as far as he can the clouds of error which so readily gather about and obscure the truth, we shall not wait for a second edition (supposing that one be issued) to point out to our readers the principal errors into which scanty or inaccurate information may have led us.

We herewith append these corrections, indicating the volume and page to which each note refers.

Volume 1.

Page 35.

Although victorious at the battle of San Pascual, the Americans were still obliged to repel the attacks of their adversaries for two days. Fortunately for them, the naval division of Commodore Stockton was waiting for them at San Diego, and a detachment of marines and soldiers, sent by the latter, brought them a relief of which they stood greatly in need. After resting for a fortnight at San Diego, Kearney's small band, reinforced by more than four hundred and fifty men, resumed its march under the supreme command of Stockton. On the 8th of January, 1847, the Americans dispersed the enemy's forces that had rallied against them at Rio San Gabriel, and beat them again the next day before Los Angelos. After a violent quarrel with Stockton, who disputed the command with him, Kearney continued his march, overtook a Mormon battalion on the 21st, which had arrived from the North, and finally occupied Upper California, in conjunction with Lieutenant-colonel Fremont.


Page 142.

The Virginia ordinance of secession was freely voted for by the legislature, the majority of which was in favor of separation.

Page 187.

The Federal arsenals of the North, although depleted, were not absolutely empty.

Page 248.

Johnston did not stop the trains, with his army on board, in the open country; he landed his troops at Manassas Junction, and thence led them to battle.

Page 249.

Elzey takes the place of Kirby Smith in the command of the latter's brigade.

Page 254.

The official documents we have before us, and particularly one despatch from Patterson to General Scott, dated July 20, informing the latter of the departure of Johnston's troops for Manassas Junction, do not justify us in persisting to blame General Patterson as we have done: by mistake we exaggerated his forces; besides, he had with him only troops whose terms of service were about to expire, and who would return to their homes. But even if he had had a more numerous and better organized army at his disposal, he could not long have prevented Johnston from escaping him, as the latter had in his rear a line of railway connecting him with Beauregard. General Scott, in advising him to watch and detain the Confederates, told him that the battle between Beauregard and McDowell would take place on the 18th. Now, on that day Johnston was still at Winchester; he only started during the day; and Patterson did all that could be expected from him by announcing this departure to his chief in a despatch which, had it been speedily forwarded, might have reached its destination in time to have been of use to McDowell before Bull Run.

Page 297, line 18.

Hominy is made of hulled and broken grains of white Indian corn.

Page 308.

The forwarding of arms deposited in the arsenals of the North to the South by Mr. Floyd has excited violent discussions and given place to searching inquiries. The result of these inquiries, without lessening the culpability of the Federal Secretary of War in our [856] estimation, diminishes the amount of damage he thus caused to the army, of which he was the responsible chief. It is on record that to the 20,000 muskets which were already in the arsenals of the Southern States, and which did not quite represent the quota of those States, he added 115,000, taken from the arsenals of the North. But there yet remained a large quantity of them in the latter establishments The lack of percussion-caps, and the rival pretensions of the seceded States in regard to the distribution of these arms, did not allow the Confederate government to derive as prompt a benefit from them as it had hoped.

Page 415.

The original of the despatch found in Baker's hat was deposited in the War Department, where, without any consideration for the memory of a brave officer, which required the despatch to be made known, it was buried away among the files. Fortunately, a copy of it had been preserved, and its publication vindicated the victim of Ball's Bluff from most of the accusations that had been directed against him.

Page 422, line 13.

The Naval School of Annapolis was only founded in 1845.

Page 506.

Albert Pike was not a half-breed, but a white man — a Northern man who, by his lofty stature, his daring and natural genius, had acquired great influence over the Indian tribes.

Page 526.

Beauregard, on leaving Manassas for the borders of the Mississippi, had taken no troops with him. A work published in the South, whose worthlessness we have since discovered, led us into error upon this point.

Page 620.

General Shields was not an officer of the old regular army.

Volume II.

Pages 69, 70.

On the strength of information obtained a few days after the battle of Fair Oaks, we stated that in the afternoon of the 31st of May General McClellan, while ordering Sumner to cross the Chickahominy, had tried to make the largest portion of his right wing effect the [857] passage of this river in front of the latter's encampments—that is to say, in the vicinity of New Bridge, where two bridges were already nearly completed; that Generals Franklin and Porter having represented to him that these bridges would not be available for artillery before night, he decided to defer this passage till next day; that finally, on the morning of the 1st of June, these last-mentioned officers, more prudent than Sumner, had taken advantage of the latitude of action granted them by their chief to relinquish an operation which appeared to them impracticable. This hesitations we said, had saved the Confederates from an imminent disaster.

Since then, General McClellan on the one hand, and Generals Franklin and Porter on the other—that is to say, the three persons interested—having concurred in assuring us that the former had not ordered the latter to cross the river either on the evening of the 31st or on the morning of the 1st, we have no alternative but to accept such evidence as irrefutable: the conclusions we had arrived at naturally fall to the ground at the same time. These, then, to sum up, are the modifications which it is proper to make to our narrative: When, at the first news of the combat that was taking place along the left wing in the afternoon of the 31st, McClellan ordered Sumner to hold himself ready to cross the Chickahominy, the bridges in process of construction at New Bridge and above that place were not completed. Thinking that it would be impossible to make use of them on that day, he simply gave orders to the officers of the engineer corps in the evening to hasten their completion during the night. Smith's division, which was only within half a mile's distance, could cross over them at the first intimation of their availability. It would undoubtedly have been of great advantage to the Federals to have supported Sumner's movement of the 31st on that side, but the testimony of all those who had charge of the construction of the bridges shows that even the infantry could not have made use of them on that day. Thanks to their incessant efforts, at a quarter-past eight in the morning on the 1st of June, notwithstanding the rise in the river, a bridge of boats was built alongside the crumbling pier of the New Bridge, and, availing themselves of the old causeway, they succeeded in making the approaches accessible to troops of all arms: a trestle-bridge, erected a little higher up, surrounded by muddy ground, was only accessible to the infantry. These contrivances for crossing the river were very fragile, for on the same day, at noon, the swollen waters of the Chickahominy had submerged them; the opposite bank had complete command of [858] the narrow causeway over which the Federals were obliged to traverse the marshy soil of the valley, and the enemy would have required but a small force to stop them. If they had succeeded in taking position on the other side of the river, it looked as if they would soon be deprived of all communication with the rest of the army, and probably be attacked in this position by a more numerous enemy. General McClellan, being detained on the morning of the 1st of June among the troops of his left, who had just fought such a hard battle, a witness to the material losses and the demoralization of a portion of his forces, did not deem it advisable to order so hazardous a movement as the passage of the Chickahominy by his right wing. Franklin and Porter, who were in command, took no part in this decision. They could not act without orders, and the general-in-chief was alone responsible for the immobility of his right wing. We believe that the passage was not impossible: from eight o'clock till twelve the bridges were available. This was more time than was required to effect the passage of two divisions; a third (Slocum's) could even have crossed the river higher up, near Mechanicsville. A simple movement of Sumner toward his right would have sufficed to menace the rear of the Confederate troops if they had attempted to oppose this passage. The army of which G. W. Smith had just taken the command after the battle of the 31st was not in a condition during the new struggle that was taking place on the morning of the 1st to dispute the right bank of the Chickahominy to Franklin and Porter: their appearance on its left might therefore have turned its retreat into a positive disaster. From the first step taken in that direction they could have assisted Sumner without troubling themselves about the rise in the river on their rear for the future. We are convinced, therefore, that their immobility was a great misfortune to the Federals. But the writer who, in order to form a judgment of certain events, gathers around him documents which lay before him the details of the interior situation of both parties, should not condemn the actors as if the latter had known all these details: McClellan, therefore, should not be blamed for not having attempted a bold manoeuvre which, in the existing state of affairs, seemed to him singularly hazardous, and which, if it held out chances of positive success, seemed also likely to compromise the very existence of his army.

Page 80.

Captain Royall was seriously but not mortally wounded. He survived both his wound and the war. [859]

Although the charge of General Cooke was made under unfavorable circumstances, he must be praised for having ordered it. He could not select his ground, and by sacrificing a portion of the Fifth cavalry he saved several Federal batteries, to which he gave time to withdraw.

Page 103.

Instead of Richardson, read French.

Page 285.

Sigel and Reynolds occupy in the afternoon, after a slight skirmish, the road from Warrenton to Centreville—one at Groveton, the other more to the eastward. King, who, instead of preceding, follows them, attacks the enemy more to the westward along this road, at the point where it inclines toward Young's Branch.

Pages 286-293, or note D, Appendix, pages 760-762.

The second battle fought in the vicinity of Bull Run shares with the first the privilege of provoking more recriminations and discussions in the Northern States than all the other events of the war. These discussions, after having occupied the attention of a courtmartial summoned too soon to have been able to judge the question with a full knowledge of the facts, have been continued in the newspapers, in pamphlets, and in books. The recent decision of a high commission of inquiry, which annulled the sentence of the courtmartial, failed to put an end to them. The animosities which inspired them and kept them alive have rendered extremely difficult the task of the historian who is desirous to eliminate the truth from the mass of exaggerations that surround it. Being obliged by conflicting representations to inquire once more into this question, and being now furnished with fuller particulars, and enlightened by the evidence we had not been able to collect before our narrative was written, we have been able to detect some errors in this account, which we hasten to rectify.

The first relates to certain movements of Longstreet's corps during the afternoon of the 29th of August. We said that that general, taking advantage of the inactivity of Porter's corps, which was opposed to him, had sent Hood's division to Jackson's relief, whose timely arrival along the Warrenton road would have checked the offensive movements of King. Hood, as we will presently explain, had been in the position where King met him since eleven o'clock in the morning. It was Wilcox's division that Longstreet, after having at first transferred it from his left to his right in order to watch Porter, had [860] brought back again to the left, near Jackson's, but it arrived too late to take part in the battle.

Our second mistake was in blaming Porter for having remained immovable while hearing the sound of battle in the direction of Groveton. Irrefutable testimony has proved to us that while the combat was limited to the extreme Federal right during the successive attacks of Hooker and Kearny—that is to say, during the whole afternoon—this sound did not reach the point where Porter was stationed; the distant booming of cannon, which alone could be heard had resounded so frequently in the forests of Virginia without announcing anything more than a trifling artillery-duel that people had ceased to pay any attention to it. It was only the sound of King's attack, much nearer than the attacks preceding it, which reached Porter's ears at the very moment he was preparing a movement which, as will be seen, was interrupted by darkness.

While waiting for a second edition to correct the few pages we have devoted to the events of the 29th of August, we give a summary of what took place on that day at the left wing of the Federals or the right wing of the Confederates; that is to say, of the facts bearing upon the merits of a quarrel already twenty years old—a sketch far more complete and precise than the one contained in our second volume, and which, having drawn it up with great care, we have the pretension to believe to be scrupulously correct:

Longstreet, arriving from Gainesville with General Lee, and following the Warrenton turnpike, reached an elevated position to the right of Jackson on the 29th of August, between ten and eleven o'clock in the morning. He brought with him, in the order we enumerate them, the following provisional divisions: Hood (two brigades), accompanied by Evans' independent brigade; Wilcox (three brigades); Kemper (three brigades); D. R. Jones (three brigades). Anderson, with the last three brigades of the First corps, was too much in the rear to appear on the battlefield on that day. At noon this corps was deployed in two lines, each division occupying part of its front. Hood, being naturally first in line, had since eleven o'clock taken position across the turnpike, placing Law's brigade on the left and Wofford's on the right, in front of Groveton. Evans was on his right; Wilcox on his left, but slightly in the rear, connected the two corps of the Confederate army at the foot of the hill upon which Lee had posted a portion of his artillery. Kemper's division was on Evans' right; the first brigade, under Hunton, was drawn close to the latter; the other two, extending across a [861] rough country, formed but a partial connection with D. R. Jones' division. About noon the three brigades of this division had planted themselves on the extreme right in very strong positions among the woods, resting upon the Manassas railroad near the point where it strikes the road from Gainesville to Bristoe and Manassas Junction. Robertson's cavalry cleared Longstreet's flank on the other side of the railway.

Before Longstreet's arrival Sigel's troops outflanked Jackson's right, and for a moment they even caused considerable alarm on his rear; but Stuart's cavalry soon put a stop to a movement which Sigel was not strong enough to follow up vigorously; and at eleven o'clock Hood's arrival made Jackson's safety completely secure on that side. During this time McDowell and Porter were carrying out the new instructions they had received from Pope, who, as we have stated (page 288), directed them to march from Manassas Junction upon Gainesville in order to strike the flank and rear of the enemy on the right; Porter, with his two divisions, was marching along the road above mentioned; he was followed by King's division, which was temporarily attached to his command. General McDowell was with this column, while Ricketts, at the head of the Second division of his own corps, had borne more to the right, and was to strike the turnpike north of Groveton. The direction followed by, Porter brought him face to face with D. R. Jones. He therefore found himself suddenly in the presence of an enemy upon whom neither Pope nor himself had counted, and utterly unable to continue the movement which had been prescribed to him. McDowell was not long in joining him. Resuming the command of King's division, he sought to deploy it to the right of Porter in order to assist Ricketts, and thus form a continuous front of attack against the enemy he had so unexpectedly encountered.

But the impenetrable thickets which covered the ground on that side rendered such deployment impossible, and McDowell, justly thinking that the presence of the enemy on the road from Gainesville to Bristoe would not permit him to strike his flank, as Pope desired, determined, instead of attacking him in front with his forces and those of Porter combined, to bring King back to the rear in order to overtake Ricketts and operate with his whole corps in a less eccentric fashion against Jackson's right wing. This decision, which justified the latitude left by Pope's orders, was certainly the best, and it is only to be regretted that he did not take along with him the whole of Porter's corps, leaving only a small force before Longstreet. [862] The support of this corps, if it had arrived in time for that purpose, would probably have secured the success of King's attack. It is difficult to know precisely what orders McDowell, the senior officer of the two, gave to Porter; but, at all events, these orders do not appear to have been positive, and the retrograde movement undertaken by the former was no encouragement to the latter to attempt a direct attack with his reduced forces. This attack had not been contemplated in the instructions of the general-in-chief. Porter was entirely ignorant of what was taking place on his right. Finally, his scouts having taken some prisoners, he learned from them that he had before him a portion of Longstreet's corps, which the general staff still believed to be among the defiles of the Alleghanies. Consequently, Porter, while McDowell was pursuing his way with King through a long and sinuous road, confined himself to watching the enemy in front of him. Longstreet, on his part, as soon as he was informed by Robertson of the appearance of a large Federal column on his right wing, hastened to reinforce it, and at half-past 4 o'clock withdrew Wilcox's division from the place it occupied on his left, to send it to take a position between Kemper and Jones. Porter, therefore, by his mere presence had succeeded in drawing or in detaining at the extreme Confederate right six brigades; that is to say, one half of Longstreet's corps: two of Kemper's brigades, which did not participate in the fight that King was engaged in along the road, could promptly have supported Jones and Wilcox if Porter, interpreting his instructions differently, had attacked them vigorously, and it is natural to infer that any success achieved at first by the latter would speedily have been neutralized by the arrival of considerable reinforcements. It is true that toward six o'clock Longstreet, perceiving at a distance King's division on the march, called back Wilcox's division to his left in great haste; but the latter did not leave his second position before sunset, and did not reach the turnpike until after the termination of the combat between Hood and King. It was, in fact, on the road where Pope, still believing in his ability to outflank Jackson's right, and ignorant of Longstreet's presence, had despatched the new division that McDowell had brought him. At the same time, Longstreet, wishing to relieve the Second corps, ordered Hood to advance, whose fresh troops dashed against those of King, while his artillery on the left and Evans' and Hunton's brigades on the right pressed them close on both flanks. The combat was long and desperate: the Federals, inferior in numbers, made a good stand in the dark, but they could naturally gain no ground over their adversaries. [863] The result of the battle was the same at every point: the Confederate lines had not been broken; they were compact and ready to resume the offensive: this, therefore, was a serious check for the Federals, and left them in a position all the more dangerous because their chieftain did not as yet appreciate its gravity.

Far from endorsing the reproaches Pope has lavished upon Porter, we have been led, while writing this new account, to modify the judgment, far too severe, we had our self passed upon the latter general.

This recital, in fact, clearly proves that if Porter exhibited too much prudence in a situation which, altogether unforeseen, restored to him his freedom of action, this excess of prudence was productive of no evil effects upon the Federal army; for if he remained immovable with six brigades in front of him or within reach, the Confederates kept eight which did not fire a single musket-shot during the whole day. As we stated (p. 292), he did not receive the order of attack, which Pope sent him at half-past 4 o'clock, in time to execute it: this order only reached him about half-past 6 o'clock, and the nature of the ground rendered any aggressive movement in the dark impossible. Even if he had been able to execute this movement, the day's results could certainly not have been changed.

Page 553.

Colonel Farnsworth of the Eighth Illinois is not the General Farnsworth who was killed the following year at Gettysburg.

Page 555.

The information furnished by General McClellan himself enables us to correct a few errors in our account of his removal from command. McClellan was alone in his tent when Buckingham entered. The latter, although a stranger to the Army of the Potomac, was not unknown. He had many friends in it—among others, the general-in-chief himself. He had been in search of Burnside, and was desirous that the latter should be present at the painful interviews he was about to have.

Page 681, line 19.

Besides the President, a small number of magistrates and employes take the oath to support the Constitution in the Republic of the United States.

Page 697.

Of these twenty-five millions of bonds, eighteen millions were issued. [864]

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