Today in History:

73 Series I Volume II- Serial 2 - First Manassas

Page 73 Chapter IX. ACTION AT PHILIPPI, W. VA.

It is shown in the evidence that an expectation of attack or movement upon Philippi, shortly to be made, was entertained generally among the officers and that intelligence (how well founded is not known) was brought from time to time of the strength and supposed intent of the enemy.

The testimony sets forth that this had so far produced its effect as to induce the officer in command to call a meeting of his officers; that the result of their consultations and deliberations was an almost, if not unanimous decision in favor of immediate retreat; that when Colonel Porterfield returned to the room (from which he had been absent a short time) their opinion was conveyed to him, to which he seemed loth to accede; yet, determined to make a further examination of the ammunition on hand, and to prepare the baggage and train for removal at a moment's notice.

no orders to march at any particular time were given, so far as can be gathered from the testimony, although it appears that an understanding or impression was had or entertained by some that the movement would not take place until morning, which some believed it contingent upon weather.

The record will disclose the fact of a difference of construction (as to the hour of return) of the orders given to the officer in command of the cavalry company, from which the scouting party or parties was taken for duty on the night of 2nd instant.

The testimony of several witnesses bears evidence of the cool, deliberate and self-possessed conduct of Colonel Porterfield on the morning of June 3.

The court having been directed to express irs opinion, as well as report the facts, presents the following:

1st. That the commanding officer, having received information deemed by him sufficient to prepare for an early retreat, erred, in permitting himself to be influenced by the weather, so far as to delay the execution of his plan.

2nd. That the commanding officer did order dispositions to be made to prevent surprise; but a misunderstanding as to the time at which the scouts were to be called in, and a total want of proper vigilance on the part of the infantry pickets, caused a surprise, which distinct and definite instructions properly executed, would have avoided.

3rd. That the commanding officer erred in not advancing and strengthening his picket beyond the usual limits under the circumstances.

4th. That the commanding officer exhibited upon the occasion decided coolness, self-possession, and personal courage, and exerted himself, as far as possible, to effect a retreat in good order.

II.-The commanding general having attentively considered the proceedings of the court of inquiry in the foregoing case, concurs in the opinion expressed by the court and in the statement of facts deduced from the testimony. these facts show that the position at Philippi was seriously threatened by a superior force of the enemy, distant only four hours' march; that Colonel Porterfield was aware of the danger of his position, and prudently prepared to evacuate it. His desire to prevent the occupation of the town by the enemy was worthy of all praise, and had he promptly sent back his baggage and ineffective men, arranged his plan of defense, and taken proper measures to secure information of the advance of the enemy, he might sagely have retained his position, and either given battle of retired, as circumstances might dictate. It does not appear from of the court that any plan of defense was formed; but it does appear that the troops retired with

Page 73 Chapter IX. ACTION AT PHILIPPI, W. VA.