A Recollection from Hooker's history.
There can be nothing more interesting to the public to-day than a reminiscence of the gentleman that has just been so badly crushed on the Rappahannock
A broken-down gambler, he is about the best specimen of a Yankee gentleman that could be given.
A defected and rained General he is the best specimen of their military men. His testimony before the "Committee on the Conduct of the War
" is entirely rich, and shown the braggart so completely that we give come portions of it for the amusement of the Confederate
We will take the first question put to him when "Major-Gen. Hooker
by the chairman of the committee:"
Question.--To what do you attribute the failure of the Peninsula
Answer — I do not hesitate to say that state to be attributed to the went of generalship on the part of our Commander
Q — Were you consulted upon the subject of the line of the Peninsula
in preference to the one direct to Richmond
A.--I never was consulted on the subject.
Q.--What was the condition of things as Yorktown
, when our troops first lanced at the Peninsula
as regards the strength of the place, and the relative strength of the opening forces?
A.--I did not go down for some three weeks after Gen. McClellan
He want, down wish the army from Alexandria
, return vessels stopped at Bed's Ferry, whose I was, and took my division down.
took down about 90,000 and when I joined him I took 11,000 down to him. I did not see the returned, but that was the understanding there.
afterwards joined with his division.
At the time that General McClellan
landed with this large army there was something between 8,000 and 16,000 at Yorktown
I have heard it estimated as low as 8,000 and as high as 15,000.
Q.--What course would you have advised at the time of the landing on the Peninsula
under the circumstances?
A — What I subsequently did will, I think, convey an answer to that question.
I attacked with my single division a line of works at Williamsburg stronger than the line across the Peninsula at Yorktown.
, long after I joined, I never could understand why I was required to send one-half of my number on duty, day and night, to dig, so as to invest the place.
I could only conclude that a stage had been determined upon somewhere in the programme, before ever having felt to see whether we had an enemy in front or not, and a great many others felt so too. From my examination of the works at Yorktown
, and reaching away beyond the position that I occupied, I felt that their lines could be pierced without any considerable loss by the corps with which I was on duty.
We could have gone right through and gone to the rear of the enemy.
They would run the moment we got
to their rear, and we could have picked up the prisoners.
Right there at Yorktown
the enemy had expended a great deal of labor, but I would have marched right through the redoubts
--which were part of the corden they had — and got on the road between Yorktown
, and thus compel the enemy to fight me on my own ground, and not have fought them on theirs.
Q.--Suppose that General McClellan
had thrown his army between Yorktown
with as much rapidity as he could, what would have probably been the effect?
A.--It would have resulted in the capture and destruction of the enemy's army.
Q — Do you know any reason why that could not have been done?
A.--I do not.
Q.--You were there when the enemy retreated from Yorktown
A.--I was within a mile and a half of there.
The bully then goes on to state how be followed the retreating Confederates.
When they reached Fort Magruder, where the Federals
got their defeat, Hooker
I supposed then that Gen. Heintzalman
was there, but it turned out that he had left, and Gen. Sumner
was in command with a large force, certainly not less than thirty thousand men. He could have advanced through the line of defences across the Peninenia, at Williamsburg
, without losing ten men. The enemy could not fire, for I had him in a vise.
I wanted him to advance, and until three o'clock of that day I expected he would advance and march through the line held by the enemy, and go to picking up prisoners.
During this time my own troops were engaged with not lese than three or four times there number. Gen. Kearney
, who was the last of all the army to leave Yorktown
— except Porter
's division, which was left to garrison Yorktown
— was the first to come to my assistance.
If Gen. Sumner
had advanced, the rebellion would have been buried there.
He did not advance at all.
Q — Where was Gen. McClellan
all this time?
About nine o'clock, or thereabout, of the morning of the fight, Prince
, being that no reinforcements would be sent to me, started for Yorktown
, and reached there in about an hour.
It is reported to me, and i have no doubt that it is so, that he said to Gen. McClellan
: " General, you have three old women in advance.
is engaged heavily, and they will send him no reinforcements.
It is necessary for you to go in advance." I think Gov. Sprague
went down also to urge Gen. McClellan
to come up. It was reported to me that Gen. McClellan
between four and five o'clock in the afternoon.
, now the inspector of the Fifth Corps, was present at the interview between Prince
and Gen. McClellan
. Gen. McClellan
showed a great indisposition to go forward, and only left, as I am told, between four and five o'clock.
Q.--You stood your ground?
A.--Yes, sir. When Gen. Kearney
come up he was my senior; but Gen Heinselman
was under the impression at that time that I ranked Kearney
, and be sent him up to report to me. When Gen Kearney
came up, as his brigade came up I put them in position.
As soon as that was done, my own troops were withdrawn from the front and collected together as far as practicable, Gen. Kearney
holding the advance.
then said to me: "I think I rank you."I replied. "Certainly.
General, you do." He then said he would assume command, which was very proper.
That night his lines of pickets held the advance.
During the night the enemy evacuated Williamsburg
I have since learned, from most reliable sources, that when the news of that battle reached Richmond, Jefferson Davis and Governor Letcher moved their families out of Richmond, removed the archives and their libraries, and every citizen who could command a vehicle had has goods piled on wagons, and prepared to abandon the city.
They only returned (these who had left) when they found that the pursuit caused — I almost say, was abandoned.
Q.--Is it your judgment that you could have gone into Richmond
A.--I think we could have moved right on, and got into Richmond by the second day after that battle, without another gun bring fired.
Q.--What was done?
A.--We moved on in a manner I never did understand, losing time.
If there was any necessity for that I have never yet appr it. So far as the best information we have goes, the enemy had abandoned the idea of defending Richmond,
and it was only when they saw the lassitude and inefficiency of our army that they concluded to make a stand there.
Q.--Did you participate in the battle of Fair Oaks
or Seven Piece?
A.--At the time that battle was fought my entire division was stationed at what is called Oak Bottom Swamp, about five or six from where the battle of Saturday, the 31st of May, was fought.
About two o'clock of that day 1 received orders to move one-half of my division to the front, the other half to remain and hold the position they then occupied.
I started, and upon reaching to within about a mile of what was called Savage
's Southern, the head of my column became impeded by the fugitive, trains, of wagons, and of batteries upon the read, and was prevented from advancing except with their bayousts and at a charge.
From this cause my column could make but little headway, and at the time I like them to ride to the from I doubted if they could advance at all. When I there the battle of Fair Oaks
for that night was over.
A best dark my troops came up. We bivouacked on the ground, the been . The most about 7 o'clock the firing was . I started with the half of the division I had with me to the enemy.
The enemy was Sumner
's which was